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Let’s Talk About Lunch…

By Nancy Eisman

I don’t know about you, but it’s one of my 3 favorite meals of the day and my vocation offers lots of options on what to have for my noontime fix. I can whip up something new, heat up leftovers, or venture out to a restaurant on occasion. You might also enjoy lunch in lunch establishments, while some of you eat at your work stations, and it’s to the latter group this recipe idea is directed.

Whether you’ve been brown paper or plastic bagging it, or take-out boxing it, the fun and creative newish way to eat at your desk is out of a glass jar. Easy to put together the night before, assembled in a washable, reusable container, stored in the fridge, and finished by simply adding hot water, this is the new, fresh, healthy, and perfect midday meal.

Ramen noodle type soup cups are one of our most popular quick meal or snack solutions – convenient, inexpensive, and tasty. Unfortunately a lot of that tasty part comes with a boat load of sodium, not exactly healthy, and the usual miniscule dehydrated veggies are a bit lacking in substance and nutrition. That makes these from-scratch, completely customizable, jars of garden goodness so great.

You basically layer your jar with bouillon paste or cubes, followed by small pieces of veggies (ones that will be delicious after only soaking in boiling water about 5 minutes), pre-cooked beans, other add-ins and flavor enhancers, e.g., fresh garlic or ginger, and then topped with par cooked wheat noodles (5 minutes short of al dente) or thin, dry rice noodles. Fresh herbs and a wedge of citrus for a squeeze of freshness are placed on top for a final burst of flavor.

Refrigerate your masterpiece overnight, take your jar to work, follow the directions below, and you’re in cup-of-noodle heaven. Speaking of noodles, if you don’t have any you can re-imagine your ramen. Try the recipe below using couscous for a filling swap out, with some exotic flavors that will have your belly dancing.

Feast from the Southeast
Image of Feast from the Southeast
1 Salt-Reduced, Chicken-Style (plant-based) Bouillon Stock Cube (Massel brand)
¼ cup Carrots, shredded ¼ cup Watermelon Radishes or Daikon, cut into small sticks
¼ cup Chopped Spinach or Leafy Asian Greens
¼ teaspoon Minced Ginger
½ teaspoon Chile Oil or minced fresh Chile (you choose the amount of heat)
½ cup Organic Tofu, cubed
2 tablespoons Dried Mushrooms (Shiitake or Oyster)
½ cup thin, Dry Rice Noodles, broken into smaller lengths ¼ cup Green Onions, chopped
1½ tablespoons Cilantro
1 teaspoon Fresh Mint
1 wedge of Fresh Lime

In a pint-size, resealable glass jar, layer the ingredients in the order listed above, stopping after the noodles. Place a small piece of parchment paper over the noodles, and then add the green onion, cilantro, mint, and lime wedge. Seal the jar and refrigerate overnight.
Image of veggies
About 10-15 minutes before you’re ready to eat, remove the jar from the fridge and let stand at room temp. Remove the green onion, cilantro, mint and lime, and then fill the jar with boiling water. Stir everything together making sure that all of the ingredients, especially the bouillon, are incorporated. Replace the lid and let sit about 5-6 minutes. Remove the lid, squeeze in the lime juice, add the green onion, cilantro and mint, and enjoy.

Moroccan Mid-Day Meal in a Jar
Image of Ingredients
1 Salt-Reduced, Beef-Style (plant-based) Bouillon Stock Cube (Massel brand)
½ cup Couscous
1 tablespoon Dried Currants
¼ teaspoon Ground Cumin 1 teaspoon Harissa, recipe below
¼ cup Carrots, shredded
¼ cup Baby Zucchini, cut in rounds
½ cup cooked Garbanzo Beans and ¼ teaspoon Minced Garlic
¼ cup Shredded Spinach or Chard
¼ cup Baby Heirloom Tomatoes, chopped
1½ tablespoons Cilantro or Flat-Leaf Parsley
1 teaspoon Fresh Dill

In a pint-size, resealable glass jar, layer the ingredients in the order listed. Seal the jar and refrigerate overnight.

About 10-15 minutes before you’re ready to eat, remove the jar from the fridge and let stand at room temp.
Image of jar
Fill the jar with boiling water and replace the cover. Let the mixture sit 8-10 minutes. Remove the lid, stir and enjoy.

*Harissa in a Hot Minute

½ cup Olive or Grapessed Oil
1 teaspoon Ground Cumin plus 1 teaspoon Chile Powder
¼ teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1½ tablespoons Tomato Paste
¼ cup Lime Juice
Kosher or Coarse Sea Salt to taste

Whisk all the ingredients together until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste. Use for Moroccan Mid-Day Meal in a Jar, and reserve the rest for other recipes.
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