If you're anything like us, lunch is a constant struggle — especially during the week. It seems like there are only two options and both are equally terrible. One involves buying overpriced, often deceptively caloric salads, wraps, and sandwiches that aren't even particularly tasty to begin with. The other? Spending your evenings on your feet, cooking boring pastas and dull salads and packing them into Tupperware for the next day. In our experience, both choices leave us with that all-too-familiar crash right around 3 p.m. So, we decided to team up with Food52 to come up with a series of simple healthy lunch recipes that are all about keeping you going all the way through five o'clock. Even better, you can make all of these in big batches — enough for the whole week. Click through for all five scrumptious, nutritious options. Go on, we dare you.
We have tried our fair share of veggie burgers. There are a gazillion meat-substitute products out there, but we prefer a straight-up delicious veggie burger. The flavor and texture of the beetroot is essential and affects everything in the burger. We have added feta cheese for extra flavor, but you could sub it for tofu as well as for a vegan option.
Makes six to eight burgers.
3 cups grated beets (about 4 to 5 beets)
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil (we prefer cold-pressed)
2 organic eggs
1 1/2 cup rolled oats (gluten-free, if you prefer)
7 ounces sheep's milk feta cheese or firm tofu
1 handful fresh basil, leaves picked
1 pinch sea salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons coconut oil, ghee, or olive oil, for frying
Peel and grate beets, onion, and garlic on a box grater, or use a food processor with the grating blades attached. Place the grated vegetables in a large mixing bowl. Add olive oil, eggs, and rolled oats and mix everything well. Add sheep’s milk cheese or tofu, basil, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine. Set aside for about 30 minutes, so the oats can soak up the liquid and the mixture sets (this step is important for the patties to hold together).
Form 6 to 8 patties with your hands. If the mixture is too loose, add some more oats. Grill the burgers a couple of minutes on each side — or fry them in a frying pan by heating a knob of coconut oil or ghee and fry until golden on both sides. Serve with grilled sourdough bread and toppings of your choice (lettuce, cabbage , mango, avocado , tomatoes , sprouts, and onions).
You may associate enchiladas with summer potlucks or Cinco de Mayo, but it's easy to make them seasonal. Curly kale and mushrooms meet quinoa and black beans for an exceptionally rich and nutritious, crowd-pleasing dish.
Homemade Enchilada Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon fresh oregano (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/3 cup water (or as needed)
sea salt to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3/4 pounds baby bella or button mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup diced green chilis
3 cups kale, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
1 1/2 cup cooked black beans
1 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
10 6-inch whole wheat or corn tortillas
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
To make the enchilada sauce, heat olive oil in a medium skillet or pot. Sauté onion for three minutes. Add garlic, and continue cooking for another five minutes or until onions are translucent. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, tomatoes, and maple syrup. Add sea salt to taste. Transfer sauce to a blender or food processor, and blend till it's smooth. Add water to adjust the consistency as you wish. Set sauce aside until you're ready to use.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot over medium heat, heat one tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté onion and garlic until onion is translucent. Add mushrooms, and cook until liquid has been released and evaporated. Add the chilis to the pot and give them a stir. Add the kale and allow it to wilt slightly. Add the cumin, sea salt, black beans, and quinoa, and continue heating the mixture until it's completely warm and well mixed. In the bottom of a casserole dish, spread a thin layer of the enchilada sauce. Place about a quarter cup of the mushroom and quinoa mixture in the center of a tortilla. Roll the tortilla up and place it into the dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Cover them all with a layer of enchilada sauce and bake for 25 minutes. Top the enchiladas with chopped cilantro.
This will please even your non-healthy friends. Packed with spicy crunchy chickpeas, nutty almonds, and sweet caramelized onions, this combination transforms plain millet into something extraordinary. If you’re not vegan, eat this with a large spoonful of plain yogurt.
1/2 cup millet
1 14-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon harissa
1/4 cup blanched and sliced almonds
1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced into thin half-moons
Small handful cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
Place the millet in a saucepan with one-and-a-half cups of water and a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pot, and let simmer until the millet is just cooked through (about 20 minutes). Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the chickpeas on the prepared pan and drizzle with a glug of olive oil and the harissa. Sprinkle the mixture with a big pinch of salt and, using your hands, evenly coat the chickpeas. Roast, stirring now and then, until a bit crispy, about 20 minutes. Set the chickpeas aside.
Heat a thin layer of olive oil (about three or four tablespoons) in a skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the almonds to the hot oil and cook, stirring now and then, until they’re browned and fragrant, just a few minutes. Transfer the almonds to a plate, leaving the extra oil in the pan.
Place the onions into the leftover almond oil and cook, stirring now and then, until dark brown and quite soft (about 15 minutes). Set the onions aside.
In a large bowl, combine the millet, chickpeas, almonds, onions, and cilantro. Season the mixture to taste with salt and eat warm or at room temperature. To be honest, it’s even good cold.
This recipe is from Serious Eats' new cookbook, courtesy of ABC Kitchen in New York City. We loved the technique of roasting some of the citrus before adding it to the tart-sweet dressing, and the smattering of crunchy sunflower and sesame seeds against a backdrop of sweet, yielding carrot and silky avocado makes for a textural combination that keeps you coming back for another bite.
2 pounds small carrots (three to four inches,one-half inch thick), or large carrots quartered and cut into 3-inch segments, peeled (about four cups)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 medium garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 avocado, cut into 12 wedges
2 cups mixed baby sprouts, herbs, and microgreens
4 tablespoons crème fraiche
2 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
Adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the carrots in a saucepan and cover them with cold water. Season with salt, set over high heat, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the carrots are tender (about 10 minutes). Drain the carrots and transfer them to a medium bowl.
Cut the orange and lemon in half and juice half of each one, reserving the juice and the unjuiced halves, and discarding the juiced halves. Combine the cumin, garlic, thyme, two tablespoons of olive oil, the red-wine vinegar, red pepper, one teaspoon of the orange juice, and one teaspoon of the lemon juice in a blender and blend until smooth. Season the marinade to taste with salt and pepper. Add the marinade and the citrus halves (not juiced) to the carrots and toss to combine. Spread the carrots and citrus halves on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until the carrots are slightly shriveled with a few brown spots, about 20 minutes. Allow the carrots to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile squeeze the juice from the roasted citrus halves into a small bowl. Add the remaining fresh orange juice, lemon juice, remaining six tablespoons olive oil, and the sugar. Season the dressing to taste with salt and pepper, and whisk to combine.
Divide the carrots and avocado slices onto four plates. Divide the greens among the plates on top of the carrots and avocado. Add a tablespoon of crème fraiche to each salad. Sprinkle sunflower seeds and sesame seeds over each plate. Drizzle several tablespoons of dressing over and around each salad (reserve any remaining dressing for another use), and serve immediately.
If you've never tried to make kale salad before, here's the trick: You "massage" your greens with dressing. This helps to wilt the kale ever so slightly, and if you can get over the hilarity of tenderly rubbing down a vegetable, you'll quickly understand why raw kale salads are all the rage. This particular salad is elevated and made heartier with lentils — which are a great protein-packed way to transform a salad into a heartier meal. If you'd like, you can add some cooked new potatoes, or serve the dish with a thick slice of grain bread and hummus.
Serves four to six.
2 bunches curly kale, center ribs and stems removed, washed, dried, and chopped finely
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 pinch black pepper
1 cup puy or beluga lentils (substitute brown lentils if they’re all you have), rinsed and picked over
1 cup red cabbage, shredded
Whisk together olive oil, apricot preserves, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, sea salt, and black pepper. Turn kale into a large mixing bowl, and massage six tablespoons of the dressing into the salad. You’ll need enough dressing for the salad to be well-coated and have a “wilted” texture. Set aside.
Place lentils in a small saucepan with enough water to cover them by three to four inches (approximately 2 1/2 cups). Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat, add a pinch of salt, and let the lentils simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until the lentils are tender but not mushy. Allow lentils to cool slightly and add them, along with the cabbage, to the kale, and add another two tablespoons of vinaigrette. Use hands to combine. Add extra dressing as needed, and season to taste.