Tag Archives: easy lunch ideas

Leftover Salad, a Recipe of Sorts

Gentle Readers, sometimes it is difficult to determine how best to use up leftovers. Things that were once delicious can seem foreign or small, or fuzzy. Excluding the latter category as science experiment, let us discuss one of the most efficient ways to solve the leftover problem: a bed of lettuce.

Beautiful lettuces all in a row at the Farmer's Market.

Beautiful lettuces all in a row at the Farmer’s Market.

Yes, in the season of rabbits, greens are the great connector. After a fantastic meal with friends and colleagues at G2B Restaurant recently, I walked home with leftovers from the charcuterie plate and half my steak. What is a Practical Cook to do?

Leftover Salad, courtesy of steak, onions, and cheese from G2B Restaurant.

Leftover Salad, courtesy of steak, onions, and cheese from G2B Restaurant.

This. I sliced the steak into bite-sized pieces, and crumbled one of the cheeses over the top. Dollop of the caramelized onions, and topped with balsamic and olive oil. I also added a handful of dried cherries. It was transforming. I wanted to eat one the next day.

Charcuterie plate becomes salad bar!

Charcuterie plate becomes salad bar!

Alas, the blessing and curse of the leftover salad, each one as unique as a snowflake. The larger point, start looking at your leftovers like toppings at a salad bar. It will change your relationship to them and to lunch. Enjoy.

What’s the strangest salad combo you’ve ever made? I won’t tell. Post a comment, send a tweet, hail a carrier pigeon, just share!

Send your leftovers, witty rejoinders, and binders full of questions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up next on Friday, Roasted Broccoli with Oranges, or How to Fake Chinese Takeout.

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Filed under Punt!, Recipes

Indian Veggie Burger: Product Review

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook is on a mission to find the best veggie burger in the land. All contestants welcome. I’ll be trying them in restaurants, from the freezer case, and from scratch recipes. Today’s entry is a most delightful twist on the theme: Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala Burger

Trader Joe's Vegetable Masala Burger

Trader Joe's Vegetable Masala Burger

These frozen gems are a bit on the spicy side, and remind me of samosa filling or loosely packed pakora. Either way, that adds up to delicious in my book. I fully intend to use them as a cheating chaat the next time I serve Indian food.

Trader Joe's Vegetable Masala Burgers contain lots of visible veggies.

Trader Joe's Vegetable Masala Burgers contain lots of visible veggies.

They are a bit luscious (aka, greasy), which I also dig. The Practical Cook abhors a dry veggie burger. For our taste test, I served them in pita with lettuce, with yogurt on the side for cooling.

Half a masala burger fit nicely into the mini pita.

Half a masala burger fit nicely into the mini pita.

The Practical Cooks Junior liked the flavor, but found them to be too spicy. I basically ate the whole box, and then bought some more to try with the Mom’s Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls featured earlier. Wow, I love them.

Vegetable Masala Burgers in Pita with Lettuce

Vegetable Masala Burgers in Pita with Lettuce

For the vegetarians looking for something new, give these a shot.

Have you made veggie burgers from scratch? If you’ve got a recipe, send it my way. Post a comment below to nominate a veggie burger for the taste test!

Send in your requests for future blogs by emailing practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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For the love of Fried Pickles, up next.

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Filed under On the Table, One Ingredient Three Ways, Snacks

Emergency Vegetables: When You Need Greens Stat

Gentle Readers, there are some days The Practical Cook struggles to find time to eat the full complement of fruits and veggies. Yes, one tries to stock the pantry in one’s favor, but when there are back to back conference calls and various life demands, even washing lettuce can seem hard. That’s when it’s time for emergency vegetables.

Fresh Fluffy Spinach

Fresh Fluffy Spinach

Years ago, having run out of ideas for new vegetables and money for interesting lunches, I started filling the top of my leftovers for lunch container with bagged baby spinach. Just raw spinach. When I microwaved at lunchtime, voila, steamed spinach. It is remarkably effective, and goes nicely atop most leftovers you’re looking to reheat.

Sugar Snap Peas for the Win!

Sugar Snap Peas for the Win!

Inspired by this trick, I tried it recently with Trader Joe’s snap peas. (Yes, even though I shouldn’t shop unattended, sometimes I do purchase experimental veg instead of something in the nonpareil family.) The snap peas were a hit. They’re moving toward staple status, good for crudite and for quick steaming.

Leftover lunch, complete with a green veg.

Leftover lunch, complete with a green veg.

If I have slightly more time, and I’m feeding the family, it’s baby green peas: 3 minutes until show time, and butter and salt sell them to the people.

What’s up your green sleeve? Post a comment below, or Tweet!

Queries, compliments, lottery tickets can be emailed to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up tomorrow, it’s Fried Friday, with a review of Beasley’s Chicken and Honey.

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Filed under Kitchen Philosophy, Punt!

Peanut Butter Tuna Salad, Or Elvis Meets Charlie

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook should not be left alone in the kitchen. Let’s not fool ourselves, it’s always the test kitchen when I’m in there, and when I’m hungry, strange things happen. You see, I often work California hours, which puts the start of the day, high meeting time, right in the middle of lunch here on the right coast. When I get a bit peckish, people start to look like dancing hams, just like in the old Bugs Bunny cartoons.

Peanut Butter Tuna Salad Being Invented

Peanut Butter Tuna Salad Being Invented

So I need protein, and fast. Open a can of tuna, sweet pickle relish, dab of mayo (don’t barf haters, I know you’re out there), done. But no, that’s not good enough when I’m hungry and not in a mayo state of mind. There was a famous “African Tuna Salad” sandwich at a local joint here, which I unfortunately never tried, but remembered. It was time to re-create it.

Trader Joe's Tongol Chunk Light Tuna: Sorry Charlie

Trader Joe's Tongol Chunk Light Tuna: Sorry Charlie

Peanut Butter Tuna Salad Recipe

1 can of tuna (Trader Joe’s featured here, thanks to The Practical Cook’s Mom for the recommendation: delish)
Dijon Mustard
Mayo (just a smidge, bear with me)
Peanut Sauce (I cheated, and didn’t make my own here)
Sriracha (well, just because)
Sweet sweet gherkins, sliced on the bias

Open and drain the can of tuna. Deal with any yowling cats that may have swarmed you during this process. Add a squirt of Dijon (probably 1 tsp at least), 1 Tablespoon of mayo, and 2 Tablespoons of peanut sauce. Add Sriracha to taste, then stir to combine. Now add the sliced gherkins, and taste for balance. If you want more sweet, add a dash of pickle juice, more peanut flavor or moisture, add more peanut sauce. You get the point.

Serving suggestions:

1. On Celery.

Peanut Butter Tuna Salad on Celery: Mobile Lunch

Peanut Butter Tuna Salad on Celery: Mobile Lunch

2. Tossed with Pasta.

Pasta Tossed with Peanut Butter Tuna Salad

Pasta Tossed with Peanut Butter Tuna Salad

3. Toasted on Bread with Cheese or Peanut Butter.

Can't decide between a tuna melt and a peanut butter? Choose both.

Can't decide between a tuna melt and a peanut butter? Choose both.

Yes, for test purposes, I made half with cheese, and half with peanut butter. I couldn’t decide which I liked better. Wildly different, equally delicious. The Practical Cook is here to wade into abnormal lunch waters so you don’t have to:

Cheese and Peanut Butter in the Tuna Taste Test

Cheese and Peanut Butter in the Tuna Taste Test

OMG, and that is all. I found Peanut Butter Tuna Salad to be irresistible. It is a protein hit, balanced and interesting, and delightful across its many serving formats. Don’t be afraid. You can cap it off with a serving of Clusterfluff.

Are you a tuna salad fan? Peanut butter? Meet up below in the comments section.

Food questions, blog ideas, and taste test challenges may be submitted to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Tomorrow, a Product Review: My New Favorite Peanut Butter (Hearts).

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Filed under Punt!, Recipes