5 Delicious & Easy Lunch Recipes

Photographed by Ithai Schori.
Seamless is a life-changing website, but it can’t change the fact that you’ve eaten the same crummy salad every day for the last month. It's time to stop wasting money and start packing your lunch — and who better to call than Ashley Merriman, current chef at New York staple (and celebrity hot spot), The Waverly Inn, and former contestant on Top Chef season 6. Merriman, with her lengthy culinary history (she's worked at other major Manhattan joints, including Butter and The Darby), has perfected approaching conventional dishes in a unique way.
Ready to step up your lunch game? From an inspired take on tuna salad to an unlikely marriage of beets, melon, and feta, this Top Chef is here to delight you with healthy, flavorful dishes that are anything but boring. Keeping reading for five easy and delicious recipes that will have you packing like a pro in no time.
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Photographed by Ithai Schori.
Tomato Salad with Nigella, Ricotta, and Cream

"This salad combines many of my favorite ingredients in one easy dish that works well in summer months and is great for an easy lunch or even a dinner party. Use only beautiful ripe tomatoes as this dish has so few ingredients that they all have to be excellent quality."

5-6 heirloom tomatoes, preferably from greenmarket
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup fresh ricotta
1 lemon
1 tbsp toasted nigella seed, smashed with a mortar and pestle
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil

1. Toast your nigella seeds over very low heat for about 2 minutes. Grind them with a mortar and pestle. If you don't have one, don't worry — just use them whole. Transfer the toasted and ground seeds into a container with the heavy cream. Add a pinch of salt and shake well. Let sit for a few hours — ideally overnight, but not less than three.

2. Slice your tomatoes in a variety of shapes and place on a plate. Season aggressively with kosher salt, cracked black pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil.

3. Smear ricotta at the bottom of your serving dish. Season with salt, pepper, and olive oil. If you have any leftover juice from slicing the tomatoes, throw that on top of the ricotta as well.

4. Place tomatoes on top of the ricotta. Shake your cream very well until it starts to slightly thicken — but not so much that it turns into whipped cream. Spoon the heavy cream and nigella mixture all over the tomatoes. Finish with olive oil, salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon.
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Photographed by Ithai Schori.
Carrot Salad with Chickpeas, Greek Yogurt, and Harissa

"This salad works well throughout the year, but I especially love it in the early summer months when carrots are small, sweet and tender."

1 can chickpeas, drained
1 tsp high quality harissa
2 tbsp Greek yogurt
1 bunch baby carrots, preferably from the Greenmarket
3 sprigs cilantro
3 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
Kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon

1. Clean carrots and remove the green tops. Save one or two carrots for a raw garnish. Toss carrots with a touch of olive oil and season with kosher salt. Broil at high heat until they are fork tender, rotating them often. Let cool.

2. Mix chickpeas with harissa, salt, and the zest from one lemon. Set aside.

3. Using a vegetable peeler or mandoline, shave the raw carrots very thin. Dress them with salt, a little lemon juice, and olive oil.

4. To assemble your salad, smear some yogurt on your plate and finish with the chickpeas and roasted carrots. Garnish with the shaved raw carrots, toasted pumpkin seeds, and plenty of cilantro. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and olive oil.
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Photographed by Ithai Schori.
Wax Beans and Albacore Tuna Salad

"In the late summer months, Romano and wax beans are at their peak. This salad only requires blanching and shocking the beans and buying the best quality tuna you can find."

1/2 lb Romano beans, yellow wax beans, or Dutch runner beans (or a mix of all)
1 jar excellent quality tuna packed in oil
1 sprig fresh dill
Celery leaf hearts
1 sprig parsley
3 to 4 fingerling potatoes, roasted in the oven until creamy
A few Castelvetrano or Cerignola olives, pitted and smashed
Extra virgin olive oil
Lemon juice
Zest from 1 lemon
Kosher salt
Black pepper

1. Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil and season aggressively with salt. Meanwhile, make an ice bath with several cubes of ice and cold water. Blanch your beans in the boiling water, working in batches if necessary. Immediately shock in ice water.

2. Once your beans are cooled, pat dry with paper towels. Season the potatoes and beans with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Dress with olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

3. Spoon the tuna over the beans and potato.

4. Finish the salad with the picked herbs, celery leaf, and smashed olives.
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Photographed by Ithai Schori.
Farro Salad with Mint, Pistachio, and Cherry Tomatoes

"I've been making some version of this dish for years. It requires a very little cooking, but packs in tremendous flavor, lots of protein, and carries really well. I eat this salad throughout the summer and early fall months when cherry tomatoes are at their peak."

5 oz farro (about 3/4 cup)
Olive oil
1/2 shallot, minced
Kosher salt
2 cups vegetable stock (or water)
3 sprigs mint, cleaned and torn into pieces
5 basil leaves, cleaned and torn into pieces
10-12 cherry tomatoes, preferably from Greenmarket, sliced in half
2 tbsp toasted and salted pistachio
2 tbsp grated Pecorino Romano
1 radish, shaved thin on mandolin
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Black pepper

1. To cook your farro, finely mince half a shallot and sweat in a sauce pan over medium heat in olive oil, being careful not to brown. Toss in the farro and coat the grains with the shallot and olive oil mixture. Season with salt and black pepper. Cover the farro in vegetable stock (or water) and lower the heat. Cook until the farro is tender adding more stock as needed, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl or platter to cool.

2. Meanwhile, make your vinaigrette. In a mixing bowl or a jar with a tight fitting lid, place sherry vinegar, mustard, a pinch of salt, grated black pepper, and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Whisk (or shake) together until ingredients are incorporated.

3. Once your farro is cool, place your tomatoes, mint, basil, Pecorino, radish, and pistachio in a container and bring your vinaigrette with you to dress the salad later. The salad will keep for several hours if you want to dress it before leaving home. Season to taste with a splash of extra virgin olive oil, salt, and cracked pepper.
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Photographed by Ithai Schori.
Beet Salad with Summer Melon and Feta

"In the last days of summer when melon is super sweet, I like to eat them with earthy beets and salty feta. It's a perfect lunch on a hot day."

1 cup summer melon, peeled, seeded and torn into bite size pieces (any melon will do, but I like the firmer texture of watermelon)
1 cup of roasted beets, peeled and torn into bite size pieces (if you don't have time to roast your own, you can substitute high quality jarred beets)
3 tbsp good quality feta
A few very thin slices of red onion, soaked in ice water
1 sprig each basil, parsley and mint
Sherry vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper

1. Season the beets with kosher salt, black pepper, a splash of sherry vinegar, and extra-virgin olive oil.

2. Assemble your salad.

3. Finish the salad with the torn herbs, freshly ground black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.

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