“Take your lunch to work” Week
I recently received a blog request from one of my loyal followers… OK, it was from my daughter, Marissa. But she counts as my most loyal follower. No one has commented more, in the nearly 3 year life of this site, than my sweet girl. And I thank her profusely for that and for her constant support and encouragement. To that end, naturally I will be fulfilling her request.
She asked if I could post some brown-bag recipes. New ideas for yummy stuff she could take into the office for lunch. Marissa has a varied and sophisticated palate. She was a vegetarian back in middle school and still doesn’t eat much meat, although she, like most intelligent individuals, loves bacon.
All week I will be creating recipes and giving specific instructions for brown-bagging. Each of these recipes will not only make for a perfect lunch, but a lovely light supper too.
In most cases, everything listed in each recipe can be easily found at Trader Joe’s. (Which is, of course, this mother and daughter’s favorite place to grocery shop.) Take the hearts of palm in this recipe for example. Sure you may find them in a regular grocery store… eventually. But you’ll probably need to search high and low and until you finally give up and ask for help. But at TJ’s they will be on the one and only aisle of canned and jarred goods… right along side the peperoncini peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar you will also need to purchase, if you don’t already have them on hand. And there is no better place to buy cheese, it’s always fresh at TJ’s because of the high turn around … and the price is hard to beat. As for the produce – unless the grocery store is running the specific items on ad that week, the price is about the same. Well, except for the basil. No grocery store can touch the super low price of basil at TJ’s!
When packing this salad, keep the dressing separate from the rest of the ingredients or you will wind up with a soggy mess. Toss in the dressing just before eating. I suggest to pack all the goodies in a snap-top container with the lettuce sitting on top and pack the dressing in a small jar or a smaller snap-top. The recipe makes enough for four but may easily be cut in half. All the ingredients will hold, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days. You can have it for lunch on Monday and then again on Wednesday, for instance.
Loaded Italian Salad with Fresh Basil Dressing
1 heart of romaine, sliced and then washed and spun dry
4 small Roma tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
6 small peperoncini peppers, stemmed and thinly sliced
1 hearts of palm, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (patted dry, if packed in oil)
8 pitted Kalamata olives, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup shredded Fontina cheese
1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Salad: Place all ingredients in a large bowl.
Dressing: Place basil, parsley, vinegar and shallot in a blender and puree. With the machine running, add the olive oil in a slow and steady stream. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Toss salad with dressing just before serving.