Julie has asked me to come up with some fresh ideas for a work lunch meeting she is holding for 17 people. A great idea is to ask everyone to choose his or her protein the week before, then you know how much you will need to buy and prepare.
Keep it simple and buy a few BBQ Chickens already cooked (no stuffing) and cut them into quarters with some good quality shears/scissors so they are easy to manage. Drizzle with olive oil after cutting and cover to keep in the moisture.
Here’s a twist on the protein with a chunky tuna option:
Sesame Tuna Salad
Allow half a tin of tuna per person, drain and place into a large bowl. Use tuna in spring water, then you can add the flavor you like. When you mix, take care not to break it up too much, leave big chunks!
Toss through fresh or dried red chili
Chopped fresh coriander leaves
Dried fried shallots
Black sesame seeds and make a toasted sesame oil and lime juice dressing.
Beautiful Bean Salad
Protein for vegetarians!
Soak chickpeas and cannellini beans overnight then boil gently for one hour. Drain, rinse in cold water and allow to cool.
Dress with fresh chopped flat leaf parsley, chopped, pitted green olives (in olive oil, not brine – too salty!), roughly chopped rocket leaves and lots of ground black pepper. Serve with an olive oil and lemon (or orange!) juice dressing and a handful of toasted, blanched almonds.
Every salad needs a balance of crispy, soft and crunchy. Make up a few big bowls and people can help themselves.
Rockin’ Red Salad
Thinly sliced red peppers/capsicum, roasted tomatoes, finely sliced/shaved red onion, red lettuce, whole lightly toasted almonds
Fresh tomatoes can often be watery and tasteless. Here’s my tip to bring back their flavor. Pre-heat oven to full temperature – 230oC
Slice tomatoes into quarters and place on a baking tray lined with foil. Splash over some olive oil and black pepper and sprinkle some thyme leaves. They will reduce in size so pack them into the tray
Put into the oven and immediately turn it down to 140oC and leave for at least one hour, preferably two.
Wicked White Salad
Thinly sliced/shaved fennel, dried shredded coconut (sugar free) and chopped apple, sprinkle in some lightly roasted sesame seeds and lightly toasted macadamia or cashew nuts – lemon juice and macadamia oil dressing
Gorgeous Green Salad
Iceberg or Cos lettuce chopped into edible chunks (no big leaves – saves getting dressing all over your face!)
Avocado chunks, chopped herbs (mint, basil and tarragon), fresh spinach leaves (chopped smaller if they are more than a mouthful!), lightly blanched broccoli, lightly toasted pumpkin seeds. Splash with lots of ground black pepper, lemon juice and olive oil dressing.
Roasted Vegetable Salad
Cut pumpkin, beetroot, onion, eggplant and zucchini into the same size chunks. Roast with whole garlic cloves in olive oil in a 180oC oven for 90 minutes.
Sarah’s World Famous Guacamole (party size)
7 ripe avocados
Juice of four lemons
3 teaspoons ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves
Fresh red chilli (to taste)
Chunk the avocado from the skin in big pieces and put into a bowl. Add the other ingredients and mix gently. The avocado will breakdown as you mix it. Make sure leave some big pieces! Add more chilli if you want some extra carumba!
Store in the fridge with one avocado seed pushed in to stop it going brown. (But make sure you remove before serving)
Zing Zing Salsa (party size)
8 tomatoes finely diced
1 large red onion finely diced
1/2 juice of one lemon (or one lime)
1 handful chopped coriander leaves
1 tablespoon of olive oil
3 birds eye hot chilli
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients together and leave to rest in the fridge for an hour or so for it to develop its distinctive Zing Zing!
Serve with a bag or two of low salt, plain corn chips or carrot, cucumber and celery sticks.
Be prepared! In the days prior to the lunch make and store in the fridge the salsa, bean salad (you can dress this too – the beans will soak up the flavours!), roasted vegetables, tomatoes, tuna salad and toast all your nuts and seeds.
The afternoon before the lunch, make the guacamole, blanch the broccoli, prep the olives, .
Make your dressings in separate containers, I use old honey or peanut butter jars, and dress them when you get to work.
Cut your avocado at the last minute. Toss the shaved fennel and chopped apple in lemon juice straight after slicing so it doesn’t brown.
Chop the herbs at work; make sure you take a sharp knife with you. Bruised herbs lose their goodness on the chopping board.
That’s it – it sounds like a lot of work, but if you start a few days in advance and can drive into work, this is an assembly process that will result in an awesome lunch that will ensure you will have everyone’s attention all afternoon!