Posted by: Hil | November 3, 2008

Lunch of the Week


One of my secrets to healthy brown bag lunches is making a big batch of a beans or whole grains at the beginning of the week.  That way, I can dish up a bit of my soup/salad/whatever, grab a piece of fruit and some snacks and I’m ready to go.  In the winter, I’m always looking for dishes that taste equally good hot cold or room temperature.  This black bean, quinoa and corn salad fits the bill.  It’s really just a winterized version of the black bean and corn salad that I subsist on during the summer.  I combined a can of black beans, half a can of corn, some quinoa (half a cup dried), and a big handful of fresh parsley.  Cilantro would have been fantastic, but I didn’t have any on hand.  I topped it with olive oil and lemon juice (would have used lime if I had it) and seasoned with salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin.  The result was flavorful and hearty.  The quinoa provided a pleasant crunchiness to the dish.  With a piece of fruit and a low-fat string cheese, it was a very satisfying lunch.  I also packed some nuts and dried fruit for a snack, but ended up eating a piece of pan de muerto instead.

Dinner was some leftover steak with Swiss chard and herbed whole grain couscous.  The side dishes both turned out really well!  To give the couscous extra flavor, I heated some butter and olive oil in a pan and added minced sage, scallions and garlic until the oil was fragrant (just a few seconds).  Then I stirred in the couscous (already cooked) and added a sprinkle of pine nuts for crunch.  You could really taste the herbs in every bite.  This will be a repeat preparation.  As for the chard, I just sauteed it.  The only tricky part is that you have strip the leaves off of the tough stems, as they require different cook times.  You chop up the thick stems into bite sized pieces and throw them in the pan to cook.  When the stems are tender and begin to taste sweet and mellow, you add the chopped leaves to the pan.  Those cook much faster, in just a minute or two.  Swiss chard may take a bit more prep time than some other greens, but the payoff is so worth it.  It’s probably my favorite green of all time.  The flavor is strong, but not overpowering, and the sauteed stems are delicious and sweet.  Fabulous.  And given that I can buy a huge bunch of it for less than the price of a small bunch of kale at the farmers market, there will be lots of chard on the menu for the next few weeks!




  1. What is pan de muerto by the way?

    Your salad does look like it would be good cold or warm for more variety each day!

  2. Ooooh, fabulous black bean salad!! And I’m all over that swiss chard!! 🙂

  3. I make a similar dish with bulgur instead of quinoa, I am not a fan of quinoa at all.

  4. i really ought to learn from you, making lunch for the week…. i am so bad when it comes to eating on-the-go.

  5. Hangry Pants–pan de muerto is a Mexican sweetbread. It tastes a lot like brioche, but sweet and typically flavored with cinnamon or orange. I explained it in my Dia de los Muertos post.

  6. I love quinoa! That first picture looks like a beatuiful meal! 🙂

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