Ah, the sad desk lunch. We’ve all been there, moving quickly in the morning and throwing tuna on top of bread and calling it “done.” Opening up the reusable container at 1 o’clock and spying a pile of mushy starch and scattered tuna salad might leave you feeling more daunted than delighted, though. You may even end up ordering lunch in.
And what’s the point of that, when you could have homemade meatballs or squash soup, gorgeous composed salads or hearty stews? Here are a few knockout recipes to consider; make your next desk lunch a happy one.
There’s a reason soup is a packed-lunch standby. Properly sealed in a container, it tends to be among the tastiest things you can reheat. Most soups get better after a day or so, and this squash soup with thyme cream is no exception. Roasting the vegetable with butter, salt and pepper makes its flavor more pronounced and caramelized. A final flourish of thyme-spiked crème fraîche is crucial; it leavens all those buttery, warming notes with a bright, piquant counterpoint.
Don’t forget about roast vegetables when you’re looking to mix up your salad routine. They can contribute sweetness, depth, and warming winter notes. This roasted squash salad with curry vinaigrette also packs a punch of protein, since it features a full cup of crunchy candied walnuts. Just keep the requisite goat cheese, dressing and pear slices to finish the salad separate until the last moment, to avoid mushiness.
Anything braised or stewed tends to be tastier the following day, and that includes this marvelous Spanish chicken and chorizo stew. It’s hearty as can be, with a bevy potatoes, tomatoes, green olives, chicken and chorizo all commingling. After sitting in the refrigerator overnight, the disparate elements have a chance to truly marry. Bring your own hunk of hearty bread or buy one near your workplace.
Black bean soup occupies a different territory than other bean soups. It is somehow meatier, with more umami notes, and is enormously satisfying. The crucial thing with any soup of this sort is building its base properly. You don’t want to simply open a can of beans and add water. Toast the spices, sauté the onions and garlic, or use luxe toppings to set it apart. This recipe is a success due to unexpected notes like sherry, crème fraîche, and floral, sweet Meyer lemon. The citrus and crème fraîche come together for a more elegant version of sour cream that’s divine.
When it comes to lunch, one must remember tuna, but one must also remember to think beyond the tuna salad and sandwich. You can doctor the tuna with capers, salt and mayo the night before, of course, or you could build a salad that just gets better as it shuffles together over the course of your commute. This classic Salade Niçoise comes in many variations, all of which are delicious, so pick your preferred favorite ingredients, such as top-notch olives, to plump it up and make it excellent. (We like jammy soft-cooked eggs, haricots verts and whole anchovy fillets.)
The truth is that almost nothing reheats so well as an enchilada. Popped under the broiler if you work from home, or reheated in a microwave if you don’t, enchiladas have saved many of us from midday hangry. We have a dozen tried-and-true options, including these vegetarian sweet potato and pinto bean enchiladas. Our only real enchilada-related advice? Make more than you think you’ll want for the week; we’re always sad to see the last one served up.
All hail the frozen meatball, savior of empty refrigerators. From air-fried Vietnamese-inspired meatballs to the vegan eggplant numbers seen here to the classic beef meatball sub, there’s a meatball for everyone. Make a few batches over the course of a Sunday afternoon, eat a small portion for dinner, put some in the fridge, and pop the rest in the freezer. If you make a “neutral” meatball, such as these lamb-cilantro ones, you’ll find that you can prepare them a new way every time you take them out. Serve them as a side dish with raita, fold them into chicken broth and serve with crusty bread, or split them, broil them, and serve them in a pita with yogurt and herbs. The sky’s the limit with a meatball.