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Out of the Lunch Box: Marcus Samuelsson's Vegetable Pita

Out of the Lunch Box: Marcus Samuelsson's Vegetable Pita

Born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden, Marcus Samuelsson has become a celebrated chef in America where he owns restaurants including the the soon-to-open Red Rooster in Harlem. Known for his work helping children in his neighborhood and beyond, the philanthropist sent us his recipe for a kid-friendly dish that parents can pack in their kiddo's lunch. The vegetarian pita incorporates hearty lentils, fresh produce, and flavorful seasonings to create a sandwich that will make your tot the talk of his cafeteria table.
To check out Samuelsson's delicious recipe, read more.

Vegetable Pita Sandwich

Marcus Samuelsson

Vegetable Pita Sandwich


  1. 4 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    1/2 cup lentils
    1/2 cup peeled and diced carrots (about 2 carrots)
    2 eggplants, cut into 1-inch cubes
    2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
    4 green Thai chilies, chopped
    6 garlic cloves, chopped
    2 red onions, chopped
    2 tablespoons garam masala
    1 teaspoon mustard seeds
    1 teaspoon fenugreek
    1 teaspoon cumin powder
    4 tomatoes, chopped
    1/2 cup coconut milk
    Juice from 2 limes
    1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
    Freshly ground pepper
    4-6 pitas
    12 Boston lettuce leaves, shredded
    2 scallions, chopped
    Lemon-Tahini Sauce (see below)


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes, lentils, carrots and eggplant and boil for 10 minutes. Strain and set aside.

2. In a large sauté pan with straight sides, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chilies, garlic, onion, garam masala, mustard seeds, fenugreek, cumin and tomatoes and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk and reserved potatoes, lentils, carrots and eggplant and simmer until vegetables are softened, another 10 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and cilantro and season with salt and pepper.

3. Slice the pitas to form a pocket. Add the stew and top with shredded lettuce and scallions. Drizzle with the Lemon-Tahini Sauce.

Lemon-Tahini Sauce

Makes 3/4 cup

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon za'atar
2 tablespoons tahini
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon chopped chives
Freshly ground pepper

1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until golden, about 3 minutes. Add the sesame seeds and za'atar and sauté for 1 additional minute. Transfer to a small food processor with the Tahini and lemon juice and puree until smooth. Fold in the chives by hand and season with salt and pepper.

Lil's new mouthwatering Out of the Lunch Box feature continues with celebrity chefs and restaurateurs creating their ultimate sandwiches for elementary school kids. We can't wait to serve up all the amazing recipes!

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