Choose Lunch & Recharge Your Wellbeing

One Big Inspiration

Hello! Happy Thursday! Like most people right now, my family and I spend a lot of time at home. We’re continually looking for ways to expand our cooking repertoire, and this is especially true for lunchtime. If you’re like me, when I was in the office I used to run from my desk to the nearest Pret-a-Manger or Itsu to grab a quick salad, soup, sandwich or sushi between meetings. Now that we’re working from home, we have the choice to continue to squeeze in our lunchtime or to use it as a time to pause deliberately.  I chose the latter making lunchtime a daily ritual which helps me to relax, reset, and maintain my overall energy level throughout the day. And, although we almost always make our own lunch now, the benefits of pausing for lunch are equally as good if you order takeaway.

So, with 12 days left of summer, my one big inspiration this week is finding moments of peace through an easy-to-prepare, yet elegant lunch, and it’s truly amazing the difference it can make to your day. A few moments to mindfully prepare food, taking care to place it on a plate, pour a beverage, and dedicate even a few minutes to just eating lunch – not reading emails, not scrolling through the news or social media – a pause to appreciate the food at hand, reflect on the morning and reset for the afternoon. Try it!

Below are a few of our late summer lunchtime favourites; each will bring a little gastronomic spark to otherwise usual luncheon fare. In keeping with our principles, these are simple, healthy recipes that, while preparing and eating, bring a smile, a sense of wellbeing and ownership of the day. You can check out more recipes in À La Table and in our Experimental Kitchen.

While you’re at it, consider making lunchtime even more special by stepping outside or taking it on a picnic to your local park.  Get some picnic inspiration through my Living Simply tip on The Luxury of the Picnic.

Prawn / Shrimp Salad for a lovely, late summer lunch

Leaving the market one morning earlier this summer, I noticed the seafood stall had some cooked medium prawns and my stomach yelled, prawn salad!  Although I’d never made it before, I bought a handful of prawns for 4€ and started getting hungry for lunch. 

Back at home, a quick google showed me that there’s no one way to make a prawn salad. So, I improvised with what we had in the fridge, adapted a Marie Rose seafood sauce recipe from Allrecipes which added the perfect flavour touch, served it in a fresh bakery croissant (yummmm) and in 10 minutes we had a delicious meal! 

Lunch felt like the summer vacation by the sea that we haven’t had this year! My husband and I were glad that we only made enough for two sandwiches or we would’ve kept eating! Recipe for the salad & sauce here. Bon appetit!

A New Take on Tuna

One of my favourite new condiments this summer is a fennel infused vinegar made by a local Vinagerie near my house in France (I will be featuring this in my blog soon!).  I’ve been testing it out on salads and fish, which it’s transformed, and then I tried it out on tuna, and it has forever changed my tuna game. 

As this takes all but 5-10 minutes to prepare, this new-take-on-tuna recipe is now one of our favourite lunch meals during otherwise busy online days.  We especially love it on a bed of lettuce with tomatoes, cucumbers and red onion topped with a little EVO, salt and pepper.  But it is also great in a croissant, a wrap or on toast. We even made it for a simple salad dinner on hot summer days and paired it with one of our favourite Rosés from Côtes de Provence . Try it! Recipe here.

Mayo Makeover

One of the easiest ways to spruce up lunch is to find new condiments and prepare homemade sauces.  Ditto goes for mayo.  I hadn’t made homemade mayonnaise since I was a child and I’d forgotten how quick and easy it is – as well as much tastier and cheaper than supermarket brands.  

Using roughly six essential ingredients from your pantry, you can give your mayo several makeovers, creating a typical mayonnaise or spicing it up with herbs, spices, mustards and more. There’s no point in recreating the wheel here; there’s a great basic mayo recipe on BBC Good Food, and also in Anna Hedworth’s book, Cook House (see below). If you’re new to making mayonnaise, then I suggest you make the basic recipe and then experiment by adding your favourite flavours; we enjoyed a batch we made with fresh basil and garlic, as well as one with garden picked rosemary, garlic and lemon. It’s such a little change, but let’s just say your sandwich will never be the same and your palette will thank you.

Anna Hedworth’s Soft Egg & Herb Tartine

Earlier this month I flagged Anna Hedworth’s, Cook House, as one of my big inspirations.  One of my favourite lunch items in the book is her “things on toast,” essentially open-faced tartines (think sandwich not closed). Her book features numerous such recipes, but one of our favourites is her Soft Egg and Herb Tartine.  I’ve made it exactly as she does, using soft-boiled eggs, and also with poached eggs, both are AMAZING!  The recipe is also flexible, I’ve used herbs I had on hand rather than those she recommends and even overcooked the egg one time – still delicious results! The magic to the recipe is the herb mayo (yes, we’re still on mayo), which we make in a larger batch and use on everything from ham and brie sandwiches to egg salad. We love this meal “on toast” as a midweek luncheon pick me up and on lazy Sunday mornings with a side of bacon.  You’ll have to check out the recipe for this in Cook House to learn more!

Happy lunching!

Cheers!

-Janine