J and I have been making an effort to make as many meals as possible at home. I often pack a lunch to take with me, and have even purchased an old school Thermos. On days that I am working from home, I like to take a couple of minutes to pull together a quick lunch. I will be sharing a few ideas for very simple lunches for one with as few ingredients as possible. This salad makes use of what are possibly the best raisins in the world. Really, that isn’t hyperbole. They are so good and are made of all different kinds of grapes, as you can see below. We bought them from one of the grape stands at the farmers’ market. Unfortunately, they only dry raisins during grape season. They are the star of this simple salad, but you could also use dried cranberries, fresh grapes or any raisins you have on hand. The idea is to make this as easy as possible!
Salad with Chicken and Raisins
2 cups of mixed salad greens
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp raisins
1 chicken breast, skin removed and shredded
pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
When I am in a rush, I don’t bother to mix a real dressing together. I just pour the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper over the salad and raisins and shake it together in a container with a lid before topping it with the shredded chicken.
Anyone have ideas to share for interesting lunches for one?
On afternoons when I am working at home, I love to have a pot of soup simmering on the stove. This soup is great because it doesn’t require a lot of prep work and it comes together really quickly. It doesn’t need to cook down for hours because most of the flavor is developed in the first 25 minutes when the tomatoes and garlic are roasting in the oven. It helps to use really good tomatoes. I used a random mixture of heirloom tomatoes from the farmers’ market. You could actually roast the tomatoes and garlic a day or so ahead and combine it with the rest of the ingredients when you are ready to serve it. The mixture of roasted and fresh tomatoes is a great contrast. I like to top it with freshly chopped dill and a drizzle of coconut milk, but it is great unadorned!
Roasted Tomato Dill Soup
3 large tomatoes, or a mixture of tomatoes yielding about 3 cups
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 quarts vegetable or chicken stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
pinch red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt, plus additional to taste
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup fresh dill, plus extra for serving
1/4 cup coconut milk for serving (optional)
Slice the two large tomatoes and gently dry them. Place them on a pan without overlapping the slices, add whole cloves of garlic and 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper (no oil). Roast at 475 for 25 minutes, allow to cool slightly. Combine the unheated stock, tomato paste and roasted tomatoes in a pot and blend with an immersion blender. Bring to a simmer and stir in fresh cherry tomatoes, chopped dill, red pepper flakes and taste for seasoning. Serve with extra dill and coconut milk.
These delicate salmon cakes are grain-free, flavorful and healthy. They are a great alternative to crab cakes. Unlike heavier fish cakes, these are really delicate. They are perfect served with a salad or you can go against the whole grain free thing and eat them on a sandwich like J did. I love salmon broiled simply with olive oil, salt and pepper. However, J isn’t such a fan of plain salmon, but he will eat it if it is dressed up a bit. He really loved these, and they are a great use of my leftover plain salmon. That makes this recipe pretty perfect in my book.
Grain-Free Salmon Cakes
Adapted from Balanced Bites
8-10 oz. salmon fillet, cooled and flaked
1/4 onion, very finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp coconut flour
2 tbsp finely chopped chives (Dill or parsley would also work well.)
zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of pepper
Enough oil for shallow frying (sunflower, coconut or any high heat oil you prefer)
Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Shape the cakes into portions of about 2 tablespoons each using your hands. They will be delicate and can be arranged on a plate prior to cooking. Heat a pan over medium high heat and add enough oil to fully cover the bottom. Once the pan is heated, gently add the cakes without crowding them. When they are brown on one side, carefully flip them. Once cooked, serve immediately. I think they are great with fresh lemon and a light sprinkling of sea salt.
I often like to serve in season fruit plain and unadorned. Cherries and most berries usually just get washed before they make it to the table. Peaches are the exception to this rule. I love them baked, in savory dishes and in salads. I have been making some version of this salad nearly everyday for lunch. This plan will continue until they disappear from our farmers’ market. This peach, sunflower seed and tomato combination is one of my favorites. It is followed closely by peaches, raspberries and slivered almonds over greens. I like using the ratio of 1 peach: 2 tsp something crunchy: 3 cups of greens: 3 tbsp of dressing for two people. A perfectly ripe tomato, handful of raspberries or avocado slices are a nice bonus.
I think it is all about getting the right balance of sweet, crunchy, greens and acidity. The sweetness of the peaches pair really well with a more acidic dressing. For this salad, I just whisked together 2 parts balsamic vinegar with one part olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Sometimes there is no reason to make things more complicated, and this makes for a simple and easy weekday lunch.
Peach, Tomato and Sunflower Seed Salad
1 ripe yellow peach, sliced
2 tbsp of raw unsalted sunflower seeds
1 tomato, diced
3 cups of spring mix
For the dressing:
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, the juice of a lemon wedge whisked together.
I like to toss all the ingredients in the dressing and save the sliced peaches to add to the top.
Check out some other ideas for peaches from the archives:
Now that I have a less hectic schedule, I have found that I don’t mind doing laundry and mopping the floors. I kind of enjoy it. I know, right? This isn’t to say that I am turning into some kind of Stepford wife, just that these mundane household tasks make me feel more connected and balanced somehow. Well, everything but washing dishes. I still hate that with a passion. Not feeling so rushed all the time has been a blessing I didn’t know I needed. In a lot of ways, my health issues have forced these changes and made me slow way down. But, I really want to to whatever I can to preserve this pace, even if it means sacrificing other things.
I think that my recent enjoyment of housework is ranks right up there with most people’s opinions on sardines. It falls solidly in the ‘Do Not Like‘ category. You probably already know how good these little fish are for your health. If you like salmon or tuna, I really think that you can acquire a taste for them. The quality of canned varieties vary. I recommend trying a brand packed in olive oil. They are great with mustard and crackers or tomato sauce and pasta.
I bought these larger fresh sardines from the fish market and broiled them with the slightest brushing of olive oil, salt and pepper. They are naturally very oily and flavorful so you don’t need to do much to them. I broiled them for about 5-6 minutes, until the flesh is firm to the touch and the eye is opaque. I actually used our toaster…no, point heating up the whole oven for two little fish! It is really simple. They do have a lot of bones, but you can pull the flesh delicately away from the center to avoid most of them. So, this isn’t so much a recipe as me imploring you to try them, even if you think you hate them.
Honestly, turkey burgers can be really boring. Usually, I go the veggie burger route over turkey. Although I really like red meat burgers to be simple with only salt and pepper, with turkey I like to up the spice. Adding a generous bit of ginger was originally J’s idea, and it was a good one. The onions help keep these from being dry and the ginger is the perfect punch of flavor. I used a double dose of fresh and ground because the flavors really are different. I love to keep fresh ginger in the freezer and grate it as needed with a microplane or zester.
We had this with a hodgepodge of leftover roasted vegetables from this weekend’s farmer markets. I just added garlic, onions, turkey bacon, olive oil, salt and pepper and broiled to done. We decided to forgo the bread and served this with a dollop of basil mayo for an easy weeknight meal.
Garlic Ginger Turkey Burgers
1 Pound Ground Turkey
1/4 large onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp freshly grated ginger root
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp salt
Combine ingredients well so the onions, garlic, ginger and spices are well incorporated. Divide into four evenly sized burgers, and cook over medium high heat in a cast iron skillet. Since turkey meat is generally lean, I add a small amount of olive oil to the skillet. Allow to brown on each side being sure to cook through completely.
Since we will be moving in a fairly short amount of time, I was forced to forgo a vegetable garden this year. It literally pained me to cover it with weed block, but it just didn’t make sense to plant this year. However, not having pots of herbs on the deck was out of the question. Fresh herbs are a luxury worth having even if I will be giving the pots away mid-summer. My essential herbs are: basil, flat leaf parsley, rosemary, thyme, dill, chives, scallions (technically a bulb) and mint. It may sound like a lot of essentials, but all of these fit in 2 medium pots and one small pot. If you use them often, they can be packed quite tightly. Having too many fresh herbs has never been a problem for me. The thought that we will have a small porch for potted plants and herbs in our new place makes me incredibly happy. I have already thought about how I will maximize my limited space. What are your herb must haves?
These simple omelettes use parsley, basil and scallions. You could really use any combination of the aforementioned herbs. Only rosemary would be too strong to pair with eggs. Omelettes are, of course, the easiest and the hardest thing to make. Like all egg dishes there is no margin of error. If you watch Archer, you may remember the line where he shouts at his butler, “How hard is it to poach an egg?!” as he heaves his clothes over the balcony. Very overcooked (or undercooked) eggs are the worst. I cook my omelettes on medium low heat using either butter or oil in a little cast iron pan. I have a tiny spatula that I use to flip them.
Herb Omelettes for Two
2 tbsp chopped herbs (scallions, basil, parsley)
1 tablespoon of water
salt and pepper
Blend together all ingredients using a whisk and cook in two batches over medium low heat, flipping when they are each 3/4 of the way done. Top with extra salt, pepper and herbs.
I have made many loaves of no knead bread and decided it was time to try no knead pizza dough. The concept and the method are pretty much the same. Shaping a blob of wet dough into a pizza shape is a little more challenging than dropping into a pot. I followed the great step by step instruction at Bakers Banter that advised pre-baking the dough. I had a few air pockets that I had to pop. J was laughing as I appeared to be beating the pizza back into the oven and into submission. I put a lot of toppings on this, but trust me this works.
Here what’s on the pizza:
Black Mission Fig Jam
Caramelized Balsamic Onions (2 sliced onions, cook over medium low heat with a tbs of olive oil until the onions soften and darken slightly, add 1 clove chopped garlic and 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, cook for 1 minute and cool)
Arugula Salad (2 cups of arugula, 1 tbsp freh lemon juice, 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 kosher salt, 1/4 tsp ground pepper)
Prosciutto di Parma (1/4 pound thinly sliced, You only need a little so buy the good stuff.)
For the first layer, I spread the fig jam in a thin layer like a sauce. On top of the jam, I added the balsamic caramelized onions and goat cheese. I put a small amount of the lightly dressed arugula on each slice and draped the prosciutto over the top. In one bite, you get the sweetness of the bottom layer, the crispy acidity of the arugula and the mellow savory prosciutto. It’s a lot of flavor, but it’s the right flavors.
I went to the grocery store yesterday for a major shopping. We were out of just about everything and it made everything seem appealing to me. They happened to have some great looking ground lamb. I immediately thought of this lamb kebab recipe that I had seen on Jamie at Home. J gave me the cookbook of the same name for Christmas. I just love his show, and I never thought Jamie was hot until I saw his amazing garden…yeah, I have issues. I love when he randomly cooks over a small fire in his yard. Anyway, when I got home, I realized that I actually didn’t have many of the ingredients for this particular recipe (including skewers). So, I turned the meat into burgers with a spice blend. I am not sure how the flavor of these compares to the original (I have never had sumac), but these were delicious. I cooked them in a cast iron pan on high until they were about medium, and they developed a perfect crispness to the outside. Although I added a good amount of seasoning to these, the flavor of the lamb really came through.
I served these with a light lemon sauce and roasted red peppers on a whole wheat flatbread with a wedge of lemon. The lamb is very rich, and I found the squeeze of fresh lemon juice was really essential. I think that next time a make these I will add a bit a bit of fresh greens dressed in lemon juice.
Spiced Lamb Burgers (inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Lamb Kebabs)
1 pound ground Lamb
½ tsp chili powder
1 tsp Kosher salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
1 finely minced garlic clove
Zest of one lemon
½ tsp paprika
1 tbsp fresh thyme
¼ finely chopped rosemary
Combine the ingredients using your hands and shape into four burgers. Heat a dry cast iron skillet on high. (I covered the pan when I flipped the burgers to help speed the cooking time). After removing from the pan, cover with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Lemon Yogurt Sauce
¼ tsp finely minced garlic
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Pinch of finely chopped rosemary
¼ cup plain yogurt
Salt and fresh pepper
I have been mushroom obsessed lately. I love pretty much every kind of mushroom, but lately shitakes have been particularly appealing to me. They can be a bit expensive but I find that I don’t really need that many of them to add a lot of flavor, especially in soup. I had never cooked maitake mushrooms before, and I added one to this soup as well. The flavor may have been too delicate to taste it distinctly with the woodsy shitakes. Next time, I may try it on its own in a delicate broth. This soup cooks very quickly and is great for a weekend lunch.
1 maitake mushroom
½ cup sliced shitake mushroom caps
2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
2 chopped cloves of garlic
1 tsp fresh ginger
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp honey
½ tsp ground pepper
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
2 quarts chicken stock
2 bundles of long Chinese egg noodles (they usually come in a package of 4)
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Saute the mushroom in about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. The mushrooms will shrink up considerably. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for about a minute. Pour the chicken broth over the mushrooms and bring to a boil. Add the celery, carrots, sesame oil, soy sauce, pepper and honey. Return to a boil and add the noodles. Cook until the noodles are soft and taste for salt.