5 Workday lunches you will love

Aug 19, 2008 at 3:09 p.m. ET

If you are stuck in the deli sandwich and diet soda lunch rut, it's time to make your midday meal the highlight of your workday. Though it takes a change of lunch-making routine, tantalizing your palate with out of the ordinary dishes will not only give your midday break a flavorful flair, it will also make your workday afternoon seem less arduous. Even better, a delicious workday lunch will quell that afternoon urge to hit the lunchroom vending machine. Here are five fabulous lunch recipes to get you through a work week.

Businesswoman Eating Lunch

Here are 5  delicious workday lunch recipes you will love:

Herbed Pasta with Toasted Walnuts

Serves 2

Pair this pasta with a crisp green salad and you have yourself a gourmet midday meal. Depending on your yen, you can enjoy pasta chilled or warm.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 anchovy, minced (optional)
1 garlic clove, minced
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1/4 cup minced green onions
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, rolled lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 ounces fontina cheese, sliced into thin strips or shredded
4 ounces dry fettuccini, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Whisk together olive oil, anchovy, if using, garlic and pepper in a large bowl. Add green onions, basil, parsley and fontina and toss to combine. Add pasta and toss to coat. Divide pasta into two servings and sprinkle with walnuts. Refrigerate until ready to eat. (Microwave in a microwave-safe container if you like your lunch pasta warm.)

Chicken Apple Salad

Serve 1

Chicken Apple SaladJuicy rotisserie chicken and crunchy apple and pecans make this salad a tantalizing experience of tasty textures. Enjoy with a crusty slice of bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Leftover cooked chicken breast can be used if you don't have a chance to pick up a rotisserie chicken at the store.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
2 tablespoons minced red onion
3/4 cup diced rotisserie chicken
1/2 small apple, cored, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons dried cherries or raisins
2 cups mixed leafy salad greens
5 to 6 pecan halves, chopped

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard, agave or honey, and red onion. Add chicken, apple, and cherries or raisins and toss to coat. Package chicken salad in an airtight container. Place salad greens and pecans in another container and toss chicken and greens together when ready to eat.

Chili Relleno Burrito with Mango Salsa

Serves 1

The fresh flavor of the mango salsa counters the smoky deep flavors of the poblano and cheese, making this a truly scrumptious dish for lunch. If you are short on time, you can always purchase a jar of mango salsa – but it won't have quite the vibrancy of freshly made. This recipe yields about 2 cups mango salsa, giving you extra for topping fish or chicken at dinner.

1 mango, peeled, pitted, diced
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1 small jalapeno, seeded, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 poblano pepper, seeded
3 tablespoons crumbled Cotija or goat cheese or shredded Jack cheese
Sour cream
1 (10-inch) low-carb tortilla

1. In a small bowl, toss together mango, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro and lemon juice. Season with salt and black pepper. This can be made up to three days ahead and refrigerated until ready to use.

2. Roast poblano over a gas flame (or roast in the oven at 450 degrees F.) until slightly charred and tender. Place in paper bag and set aside to steam for 5 minutes. In a small bowl, combine cheeses.

3. When poblano is cool enough to handle, use your fingers to peel off the skin (run it under cold water while you peel). Slice poblano into thin strips. In a small bowl, toss poblano with cheese.

4. Spread sour cream on tortilla and top with poblano cheese mixture. Add desired amount of salsa and roll tortilla around filling burrito-style. Place burrito in a microwave-safe container and refrigerate until ready to eat. To reheat, microwave on HIGH for 20 to 30 seconds or until warmed through.

Barley Salad with Feta

Serves 2

Barley SaladMake a mouthwatering mélange of chewy barley grains, crunchy diced vegetables and earthy feta cheese.

1 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 garlic clove
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Pinch of dried thyme
Juice and zest of a small lemon
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup diced seeded cucumber
1/4 cup sliced green onion (green and white parts)
1 small tomato, seeded, diced
2 heaping tablespoons crumbled feta

1. In a medium-sized saucepan, bring broth to a boil over medium-high heat. Add barley and return to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes or until broth is absorbed and barley is tender. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

2. Finely chop garlic clove with a food processor. Add spinach, parsley and thyme and process until finely chopped. Add lemon juice and zest and process to combine. Keep processor running and drizzle in olive oil. Stop machine, scrape down sides of the bowl and process until smooth.

3. Pour dressing into bowl with barley and toss to combine. Add cucumber, green onion, tomato and feta and toss to combine. Divide salad into two servings and refrigerate until ready to eat.

Asian Turkey Burgers

Serves 2

More intriguing than the usual sandwich, Asian inspired turkey burgers deliver a bevy of fabulous flavors and much-needed staying power to get through a busy afternoon.

1/2 pound lean ground turkey
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 tablespoons panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) or regular breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped water chestnuts
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Kaiser rolls or whole wheat hamburger buns
Roasted red peppers (from a jar)
Condiments of your choice

1. In a large bowl, combine turkey, sesame seeds, panko or breadcrumbs, water chestnuts, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic powder, honey and salt and pepper. Shape into two patties, 1-inch thick.

2. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Oil grill grate or pan. Cook burgers for 5 to 6 minutes. Flip and cook until cooked through. Set aside to cool. Place each burger in a microwave-safe container. Top with roasted peppers and refrigerate until ready to eat.

3. At lunch, reheat burger in microwave on HIGH for 20 to 30 seconds or until desired temperature. Toast Kaiser roll or hamburger bun, if your breakroom has a toaster, and make your burger with condiments of your choice.

Need more healthy lunch recipe ideas? Try these delicious SheKnows lunch recipes: