Monday, 16 January 2012

Lunch Box - Couscous alla Panzanella

This is the first of many (I hope!) Lunch Box posts. Taking our lunch into work is a big part of saving money for me and my boyfriend. We estimate that we save about £20-£40 per week by making our own lunches. Each lunch costs less than £2, and best of all you know exactly what's in your food.

I started getting serious about lunch making (yes, I did actually just write that sentence) about a year and a half ago when I changed jobs. My new office a) didn't have a microwave and b) was surrounded by expensive restaurants and a dodgy sandwich shop and not much else. I did a lot of online research (read: Googling) for lunch ideas (because who wants to eat the same boring sandwich every day?) and found some great sites and products. Now that I have my Easy Lunchboxes I create a three-part lunch for me and my man (his workmates have stopped teasing him now) from Monday - Thursday. On Friday we go crazy and BUY our lunch. Well, you have to have some luxuries!

To make things easier (because who wants to spend their lives making lunches?) I make two days lunch at once. So on Sunday I will fill up 4 lunch boxes for me and the man to feed us on Monday and Tuesday. Then on Tuesday evening I will fill up the 4 lunch boxes again for lunches on Wednesday and Thursday. I try to make our lunches predominantly vegetarian (although this has slipped a little lately) and of course they are cold. My usual menu is: a large complex-carbohydrate based salad (like couscous, quinoa or brown rice), fruit (seasonal fresh or canned) and a home-made baked treat (like a muffin or biscuit).

Here is today's box:

Salad: Couscous alla Panzanella
Fruit: Orange segments
Treat: Home-made afghan

Recipe: Coucous alla Panzanella

I tried this recipe for the first time yesterday and I just know I'm going to make it again and again because it's so easy! It's a no-cook recipe - you just throw all the ingredients together, put  it in the fridge for a few hours and let the cous cous soak up all the tomato juice so it's plump and fluffy when you tuck in the next day. Perfect for lunch boxes.

Adapted from David Rocco

2 cups couscous
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 400g tin of canned plum tomatoes with juices, chopped
1 cup of water
juice of one fresh lemon
bunch of basil leaves, torn
salt and pepper to season

Place olive oil, lemon juice, plum tomatoes and water in a large mixing bowl. Add cous cous and mix thoroughly. Add red onions, red and yellow peppers, cherry tomatoes and fresh torn basil to the bowl. Mix well. Let sit in the refrigerator for a few hours for all the flavours to combine.

Yield: 4 servings

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