Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Lunch Challenge

I am fortunate to have Friday afternoons off in the summer. Unfortunately, I’ve been making a habit of going out to lunch on my way home from the office. Today instead of stopping at Laredo’s as I wanted to, I came home and made lunch with some of my CSA produce, using only what I had on hand.

As I drove, I envisioned a couscous salad with the zucchini from my last box, along with garbanzo beans and feta cheese, which I was pretty sure I had. But when I opened my pantry I discovered my bag of couscous had only about a tablespoon rattling around like grains of sand.

With no one else to blame I continued my search, now for a bag of orzo pasta I was sure existed, but proved only to be a figment of my imagination. I did come across some barley, but turned my nose up at that, instead grabbing a box of multi-grain penne pasta from the top shelf. It too was a little light, but had at least a third of its original contents, enough for a pasta salad.

I added a bit more water to the pot on the stove, which was waiting for the couscous, and began cutting up the zucchini. I chose to grill it because I knew I liked the vegetable that way, and thought it might make the salad a little different. I don’t have a grill, so I settled for my panini maker, setting the rounds on the grill plates, just as the water began to boil vigorously.

While the pasta and zucchini cooked, I prepared my dressing, choosing lemon juice, olive oil and a touch of hot mustard to go with the Mediterranean items in my salad. By then everything was done cooking so, after draining the penne, I mixed the ingredients together not waiting for anything to cool.

At first bite the salad seemed fine, but not enough to really qualify for a meal, so I returned to the pantry for a can of tuna I had unearthed earlier. After adding that, I had a bona fide meal. And it only took me about 30 minutes to make, not much longer than the wait at some restaurants, although not Laredo’s. Anyone who has ever eaten there knows they serve the entrées at the speed of light.

I’m willing to admit that this dish wasn’t the prettiest I’ve ever eaten and definitely ugly compared to my beet salad of a few weeks ago, but it wasn’t bad for whipping it up at the spur of the moment. It could also have used some more feta cheese, but that was only because I had greatly exaggerated the amount left in the container in my mind. All in all, it was a pretty good lunch and I have a really good idea about what I need to add to my grocery list.

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