Anna Jones’s packed lunches for all ages
acked lunches are a rare thing for me. I work and cook at home, so when a lunch is packed it’s usually an exceptional day: a train journey, the start of a holiday, lunch in the park – always a novelty.
I’ve always been intrigued by lunchboxes – everything is in the miniature, so you get just enough of what you need. A sandwich wrapped in paper, a snap of chocolate, a handful of raisins, a piece of fruit, a thin slice of cake. I guess it harks back to childhood china tea sets, laying everything out just-so, just for one.
These four sandwiches are designed to sit at the centre of a lunchbox. They travel well and are all the better for a few hours out of the harsh cold of the fridge (though, if you like, you could keep things cool with a box of defrosting fruit juice). They are as suited to school lunches as office ones. For something a little – but not much – more involved, I’ve included a quick noodle pot. Take it with you completely assembled except for the liquid, which you add from the kettle at work, and all the ingredients warm as you fill the jar. All you need now is to hold off until lunch.
Four easy vegetablecentered sandwiches
Each of these makes two sandwiches.
Smoky coconut ‘bacon’ and avocado Mix a large handful of coconut flakes with 1 tbsp maple syrup, 1 tsp tamari or soy, a pinch of smoked paprika and a good pinch of salt, then toast in the oven for about 5 minutes until golden. Once cool, layer between slices of good bread with mashed avocado, shredded romaine, some salted tomatoes and, if you like, some mayonnaise. Repeat for the second sandwich.
Beetroot, radish and mustard
Grate 2 raw beetroots and mix with
1 tsp grainy mustard, salt, 1 tbsp Greek or coconut yoghurt, a good squeeze of lemon and a really good grinding of black pepper. Finely slice a few radishes and mix through the beetroot mixture, layer between buttered pieces of bread or a flatbread, with a handful of peppery leaves.
Caper and soft-boiled egg
Boil 2 eggs for 6 minutes, then run under cold water and peel. Chop and add to a bowl with 6 chopped cornichons, 1 heaped tbsp capers, a handful of chopped soft herbs (I use a mixture of tarragon, dill and parsley) with 1 tbsp good mayonnaise or Greek yoghurt and a good squeeze of lemon. Sandwich between good buttered bread.
The veg ruben
Slice a 200g block of smoked tofu into thin slices, then fry them in a pan drizzled with a little oil until brown at the edges. Spread slices of rye bread with butter, then layer up sauerkraut, American mustard, Swiss cheese and a few slices of dill pickle. Add a little more mayonnaise, if you fancy.
Instant chilli and miso noodle soup
This can be made the night before and kept in the fridge until you leave in the morning.
50g thin rice vermicelli (I use brown rice ones)
A small piece of fresh ginger
1 tbsp miso paste (I use white)
1 tsp chilli paste or harissa
1 spring onion
1 fresh red chilli
A small handful of greens (such as kale, cavolo nero etc)
A small carrot, grated
A small handful of sugar snap peas, in their pods
A small handful of torn basil or chopped coriander
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 At home, fill and boil the kettle, put the noodles into a mixing bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to sit, covered with a plate.
2 Peel the ginger and grate into another bowl with the miso, tamari and chilli paste. Very finely slice the spring onion and the red chilli, then add most of them to the bowl. Shred the greens, cut the carrot into thin slices and slice the sugar snaps. Add them all to the bowl.
3 Once the noodles have had 3 minutes, drain them and add them to the bowl of veg. If you’re making the meal for later, layer everything into a screw top jar, seal with the lid and finish the recipe when you’re in the mood for lunch ...
4 When you’re ready to eat, boil the kettle. Pour over hot water from the kettle until the noodles and veg are just covered, and mix well.
5 Garnish with the remaining chopped chilli and spring onion, a little basil or coriander and some toasted sesame seeds. Finish with a squeeze of lime.