Handy work

Anna Jones’s packed lunches for all ages

The Guardian - Cook - - Front Page - Anna Jones Anna Jones is a chef, writer and au­thor of A Mod­ern Way to Eat and A Mod­ern Way to Cook (Fourth Es­tate); an­na­jones.co.uk; @we_are_­food

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.

Serves 1

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 lime

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.

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