Tuesday 24 April 2018

Five punchy recipes to liven up your boring lunchbox

 

Potato NiÇoise with Broccoli and a Basil & Olive Dressing. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Potato NiÇoise with Broccoli and a Basil & Olive Dressing. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Green beans with pecan nuts and lemon. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Andrew Rudd Chef and Owner of 'Medley on Fleet Street'. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Pasta with Mascarpone, Bacon & Broccoli. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Chicken Goujons. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Roast Pork Tacos. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Andrew Rudd

Finding lunchbox food to suit adults and kids can be a real dilemma. Here, chef Andrew Rudd, of Medley restaurant in Dublin, goes beyond boring sambos and shares some exciting, nutritious ideas - many of which can be prepared the night before, using leftovers.

Potato NiÇoise with Broccoli and a Basil & Olive Dressing

The French pronunciation is 'ni-swaz', and this dish originates in the French city of Nice. It is traditionally made with tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, Niçoise olives and anchovies, and dressed with olive oil. You can vary the ingredients to suit your own tastes. I love the textures of this particular variation, and it can last for a couple of days in the fridge. Perfect for a lunchbox.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients

100g walnuts

50g maple syrup

450g baby new potatoes

Bunch of mint leaves

225g broccoli, cut into small florets

For the dressing:

3 red peppers

1 clove garlic, crushed

10 basil leaves

10 black olives, pitted and sliced

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

Rind of 1 lemon

Salt and pepper, to taste

Method

Preheat the oven to 190˚C/375˚F/gas mark 5. Line a baking tray with parchment and brush with vegetable oil. Place the walnuts onto the baking tray and drizzle with maple syrup. Place in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water with fresh mint, until al dente (around 15 minutes). Drain and leave to one side.

Cook the broccoli in salted boiling water for 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain well and refresh under ice-cold water.

Prepare the dressing. Roast and skin the red peppers, then finely dice. (You can also use shop-bought.) Peel and chop the garlic, or crush in a mortar with salt. Coarsely chop the basil leaves and dice the black olives.

Add all of the ingredients together (red peppers, garlic, basil, olives, 1 tbsp olive oil, lemon juice and rind, salt and pepper). Leave to one side.

Heat a large frying pan or ridged grill pan. Coat the potatoes and broccoli in olive oil and cook until well browned. Add the dressing.

Allow to cool and place the desired amount into a lunchbox. You can add the candied walnuts at the last minute.

Roast Pork Tacos

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Roast Pork Tacos. Photo: Steve Humphreys
 

These miniature tacos are my head chef Vincent Blake's idea, and his variation on a quesadilla. They are simply divine and so easy to prepare. You can eat them hot or cold, and they will last the morning in a lunchbox. I love to add sour cream, chilli dressing or a spicy Mexican sauce.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 4 minutes

Makes: 12 small tacos

Ingredients

100g pickled red cabbage (shop-bought)

300g roast pork fillet (pre-cooked)

12 corn tortillas (small/15cm)

100ml barbecue sauce

Salt and pepper, to taste

100g grated red Cheddar

½ bunch coriander leaves, finely chopped

1 bunch spring onions

3 limes, cut into wedges

Method

Slice or grate the red cabbage. Reheat the roast pork and slice it up. Heat a tortilla on a warm pan until it's pliable. Add the pork and the barbecue sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Lightly garnish with cheese, coriander, spring onion and wedges of lime. Cheddar is perfect for kids, but you can add stronger-tasting or goat's cheeses for adults.

This was a dish that my mum, Prue, prepared regularly when we were kids. There were nine children in the family and it was all about quick, convenient, easy-to-prepare meals that can be bulked up so easily. My variation on this beautifully simple dish is to add mascarpone, which is an Italian cream cheese. It adds a very different dynamic to the dish and completely transforms the texture and flavour. Yum!

Pasta with Mascarpone, Bacon & Broccoli

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Pasta with Mascarpone, Bacon & Broccoli. Photo: Steve Humphreys
 

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

225g broccoli, cut into small florets

250g fresh penne pasta

6 rindless rashers, sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 small shallots, finely diced

250g mascarpone cheese

75g Parmesan, freshly grated

Salt and pepper, to taste

Small bunch fresh basil, roughly chopped

Method

Cook the broccoli in salted boiling water for 5 minutes or until just tender. Add the pasta to the broccoli and cook for a further 2 minutes. Drain the pasta and vegetables.

Fry the rashers, garlic, and shallots for 3-4 minutes on a medium heat. Add the mascarpone and Parmesan to the rashers, and cook for a further 2 minutes, bringing the pan to a simmer

Season with salt and pepper, as required. Add the mixture to the drained pasta and vegetables. Add some stock or hot water if the mixture is too sticky and solid. This will loosen it. Add the chopped basil. Spoon the desired quantity into each lunchbox. Garnish with a spoon of mascarpone.

Green Beans with Pecan Nuts & Lemon

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Green beans with pecan nuts and lemon. Photo: Steve Humphreys
 

This is a particularly tasty dish. My dad grows green beans in his polytunnel and there is nothing better that harvesting a bunch of beans from the plant at their immature stage of growth, when the seeds inside have not fully developed. You can also buy them easily in local shops and supermarkets, and you can use the beans in a huge variety of ways. This dish is delightful - just remember to add the pecan nuts at the last minute or they will get soggy.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients

500g fresh green beans, washed and trimmed

30ml extra-virgin olive oil

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

40g toasted pecan nuts

Salt and pepper, to taste

Method

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the beans for 3-5 minutes, or until tender. Place straight into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Combine the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, pecan nuts, and salt and pepper. Spoon the desired quantity into each of your lunchboxes.

Chicken Goujons

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Chicken Goujons. Photo: Steve Humphreys
 

The epitome of simplicity, chicken goujons are a clear favourite for all ages. They can be served cold, warm or piping hot. They work well on their own or with a variety of dipping sauces, relishes and even cream cheese. The key here is to serve them differently every time to make it interesting. Chicken is a great low-fat protein, and you can alternatively use turkey, which is even lower in fat.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Makes: 16 pieces

Ingredients

125g fine breadcrumbs

½ tsp paprika

Salt and pepper, to taste

50g plain flour

4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips

3 medium free-range eggs, beaten lightly

2 tbsp vegetable oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 190˚C/375˚F/gas mark 5. Line a baking tray with parchment and brush with vegetable oil.

You'll need 3 medium bowls. In the first, mix together the breadcrumbs and paprika. Season with salt and black pepper.

Place the flour in another bowl. Dip the chicken pieces in flour, then in the beaten egg and finally coat in the breadcrumbs.

Shake off the excess and place the chicken goujons on the lined baking tray. (The process is easier if you keep one hand clean of egg for dipping the chicken in the flour and breadcrumbs.)

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, turning once. Remove from the oven when completely cooked through and golden-brown all over.

Serve the goujons with any dipping sauce of your choice.

Photography by Steve Humphreys

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