When I used to schlep myself to an office every day, lunch was always the same thing: a turkey sandwich, some sort of snack, fruit and maybe a dessert. Then on payday, I’d treat myself to an overpriced salad that never quite measured up to its hefty price tag. If you’re in the same boat, with boring, sad lunches, then upgrade your paper bag contents with one of these gourmet yet easy-to-make lunchtime recipes.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about cooking, it’s that “gourmet” doesn’t have to mean expensive or difficult. These easy recipes can be made in a flash but use slightly fancier ingredients to upgrade your lunch. From pear sandwiches to a dreamy flatbread, these recipes will have your cubemates totally jealous.
1. Spicy beef Thai tacos with peanut sauce recipe
For the steak
- 1/2 pound flank steak, trimmed
- 3/4 teaspoon fish sauce
- 3/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon chili paste or powder
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Salt and pepper
For the tacos
- 4 soft flour tortillas
- 1-1/2 cups packaged slaw mix
- 1 cup chopped or sliced carrots
- 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
For the peanut sauce
- 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1-1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/4-1/2 cup warm water
- To make the peanut sauce, add the peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and lime juice to a food processor. Pulse on low until the mixture is smooth. Gradually add the water, and pulse between additions. If the sauce is too thick, then add more water.
- To make the steak, whisk together all the marinade ingredients. Add the steak, and pour the mixture into a ziplock bag. Toss to coat. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, prepare the grill by brushing the grates with olive oil. Heat to medium-high. Remove the steak from the marinade, and place it onto the grill. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Let stand 5 minutes, and then slice it into thick slices.
- Mix the slaw, carrots and green onion with the peanut sauce. Layer the steak and coleslaw into the tortillas, and enjoy.
2. Spinach and truffle ranch potato salad recipe
For the dressing
- 1/3 cup (2.5 ounces) frozen spinach, defrosted
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2-1/2 tablespoons buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
- 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried chives
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Cracked pepper and salt
- 1 teaspoon truffle oil
For the potato salad
- 2 pounds potatoes, cooked and cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup chopped green onion
- Freshly grated Parmesan
- To make the dressing, drain the spinach in a wire-mesh strainer. Place the spinach into a food processor along with the sour cream, mayonnaise, buttermilk, dried herbs, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar and truffle oil. Pulse on high until smooth and creamy.
- In a large bowl, mix the potatoes with the dressing and the green onion. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan, and enjoy.
3. Crispy sausage and steak flatbread pizza recipe
- 1 extra-large whole-wheat pita bread
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 ounces spicy pork sausage
- 2-3 thin slices steak, cooked
- 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 green bell pepper, julienned
- 1/4-1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Cornmeal, for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Dust a pizza stone with cornmeal, and place it in the oven to preheat.
- Meanwhile, drizzle the pita bread with olive oil, and sprinkle liberally with 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Set aside.
- Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, and crumble it up. Cook until browned and no longer pink, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain the grease (reserving 1-1/2 tablespoons in the pan), and return the sausage to the heat. Add the onion and bell pepper, and cook until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Top the Parmesan pita with sausage, onions, chopped steak and bell pepper. Sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining Parmesan cheese over the sausage.
- Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes or until the crust is crispy and golden brown and the cheese has melted.
4. Roasted pear, blue cheese and candied walnut sandwich recipe
- 1 pear
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
- 4 tablespoons candied walnuts
- 4 slices homemade bread
- 2 teaspoons stone-ground Dijon mustard
- Handful arugula
- 1/2 green onion, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Peel and cut the pear into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Toss with the lemon juice. Sprinkle with the blue cheese. Transfer to a baking pan lined with foil, and roast, flipping and stirring every few minutes to avoid burning, for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat.
- To make the sandwiches, layer the roasted pears and candied walnuts onto 2 of the slices of bread. Onto the other slices, spread the mustard. Top the pears with arugula and green onion. Serve immediately.