Work-friendly salads from QVC’s resident foodie and cookbook author David Venable
Brown-bagging doesn’t have to be boring. Salads may have earned a humdrum reputation, but don’t write them off; they can be the perfect healthy option for a workday lunch. The best thing about them? There are no rules! Throw in the topping of your choice to personalize your greens. Salads are an easy no-heat, fast-prep meal to add to your lunch box rotation. Here are a few tips to make the most of a leafy midday meal:
- Consider which of your ingredients contains the most moisture and create layers accordingly. For example, if your salad contains tomatoes, layer them at the bottom of your to-go container and keep the delicate greens on top. This way, as the day goes on your salad stays crisp.
- Consider taking your salad skills to the next level with homemade croutons. Have some old bread that you’re about to throw out? Spray it lightly with some olive oil, toss with some salt and pepper, then bake at 450 degrees F until crispy, about 10 minutes.
- A common complaint about to-go salads is what to do about the dressing. Keep a pair of Misto Olive Oil Sprayers at your desk, one filled with oil, the other with your favorite vinegar, and you’ve got a ready-to-go dressing for every day.
Summer pasta salad with arugula, bacon and feta cheese
David’s insider tip*: “Don’t be fooled by the name of this recipe; pasta salad isn’t just for summer! In fact, it’s the perfect take-to-work salad since the flavor is enhanced the longer it sits in the dressing. The combination of pasta, chicken and feta will keep you going full-steam the rest of your workday.”
- 16-ounce box farfalle (bow tie) pasta
- 1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 to 3/4 pound baby arugula
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 cup cooked or grilled chicken pieces (optional)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon lemon rind, grated
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Cook the farfalle pasta according to the package directions. Drain well. Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. Add the bacon, green onions, cherry tomatoes, and arugula to the warm pasta. Add feta cheese and chicken (if using) and toss.
- Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, lemon rind, and mustard in a small bowl. Gradually add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until blended. Whisk in the salt and pepper, to taste.
- Pour the vinaigrette into the pasta salad and toss until well coated. Serve warm.
David’s insider tip*: “Romaine lettuce holds up extremely well to chunky veggies and creamy yogurt-based dressing in this salad. Don’t be intimidated by the anchovy in the dressing; instead of adding a fishy flavor, it lends a rich and nutty tang that complements the acidity of the vinegar.”
- 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1-1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
- 1 anchovy filet, minced
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 4 large tomatoes, diced
- 2 large English cucumbers, diced
- 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup kalamata olives, halved
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- Combine all the dressing ingredients (except the feta) in a large bowl. Stir well and then fold in the feta. Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, and olives to the dressing and toss to coat.
- To assemble the salad, place the romaine on a large platter and top with the dressed veggies. Top with the remaining feta cheese and serve.
Green salad with pears, gorgonzola and cranberry dressing
David’s insider tip*: “The star of this flavor-packed bowl of produce is the bright cranberry dressing, and using a Vitamix ensures its silky smooth texture. Feel free to add in some leftover rotisserie chicken for an even heartier meal!”
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 red onion, peeled and stemmed
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup frozen cranberries, defrosted
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 (8-ounce) bag field greens
- 1 (9-ounce) bag romaine
- 1 (5-ounce) bag arugula
- 1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
- 2 pears, cored and julienned
- 1 cup gorgonzola, crumbled
- 6 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
- To prepare the dressing, add all the ingredients into the Vitamix (or another blender) and mix until smooth.
- To prepare the salad, put all the ingredients into a large salad bowl. Pour the mixed dressing over the ingredients and toss until well coated.
*As program host of QVC’
s popular cooking and dining show In the Kitchen with David