I try to brown bag my lunch everyday, and my favorite brown-bag lunch, hands down, is some sort of a salad. (Not that I always bring a salad. Sometimes I have some tasty leftovers calling my name.) There are two categories of brown-bag salads:
Salads based on lettuce and more delicate greens need to have dressing packed on the side. That’s OK, because it’s easy to nestle a tiny jar or container of dressing inside your salad container.
Salads made with heartier ingredients like kale, roasted or grilled vegetables, whole grains, beans and tuna or chicken hold up to being dressed at home.
This salad is of the second variety. It’s tasty and healthful and reasonably hearty, although you could absolutely add some leftover chicken or salmon, or part of a can of tuna. I often do. And it goes without saying that this salad will taste better when packed in a mason jar.
Recipe: Packable Kale/Quinoa/Feta Salad
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa (or 1 1/2 cups cooked)
- 8 ounces Tuscan Kale (aka Black Kale, Cavolo Nero, or Lacinato or Dinosaur Kale)
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds, very well toasted and cooled
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 2 to 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- A few gratings of fresh lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons smooth Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon coarse Dijon mustard
- Almost 1 teaspoon honey
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Rinse quinoa well in a small colander to remove bitterness. Place quinoa, 1 1/2 cups water and a few pinches of salt in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer at a very low temperature for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. Drain any un-absorbed liquid from the cooked quinoa, then spread the quinoa on a plate to cool quickly.
- Wash and dry your kale. With a knife, remove the rib from each stalk, leaving long strips of kale leaves. Stack the leaves in small batches and cut the crosswise into thin ribbons. Add the kale ribbons to a large salad bowl. Add the cooled quinoa, almonds, cranberries, scallions, feta and lemon zest to kale and toss to mix.
- Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a glass measuring cup or small bowl and pour the dressing over the salad. Season with salt and pepper to taste (the amount of salt needed will depend in part on how salty your feta is).
Need more lunch ideas? I like these five-minute lunches from Food52: http://food52.com/blog/9804-lunches-that-pack-in-5-minutes-or-less