I'm heading off to Leeds again! I'm hoping my poor London-adapted hands won't freeze and then fall off . . . My extremities aren't used to the North, ha-ha.
While it's only a three-hour journey, my friends and I are catching an afternoon train, which poses a dilemma: the dreaded traveling lunch.
I have to admit this is probably a dilemma mainly for me because I'm super picky when it comes to lunchy things. I'm really not into sandwiches, so that basically cuts on-the-go lunch options in half. Then you're left with mainly soup and salad.
Soup is awesome, but when you're on a train, jolting around, and your thermos is kind of unpredictable, it can be a lot less awesome and a lot more burnt-legs-ish. Now we are left with salad.
This can either be a really sad, depressing thing, or we can forget about the boring school salads of childhood and JAZZ IT UP to make it cool B-) (that's a cool smiley face wearing sunglasses to prove it).
When I eat salad as a meal, not a side, I want it to be substantial, so let's face it: it's basically gonna be cold carbs with some greenery mixed in: quinoa and roasted sweet potato are still delicious at room temp and keep well if you prep them ahead of time so they make up the base of this salad. Add in some leafies (baby spinach!), sweet crunch (pomegranate arils), extra veg (carrot), and a kick-ass dressing (sweet, sour, and fresh), and you have yourself one dench traveling lunch. Tip it all out into a bowl or pack it loosely, so you can eat it straight from the jar, and you're good to go.
The recipe for the dressing makes more than you need, so store any extra in a jar in the fridge for salads, chicken, or fish. Make sure you use a gluten-free miso paste if you need to! Quinoa can be replaced with loads of things: cooked rice noodles, mung bean noodles, chickpeas, lentils, edamame, pearl barley, buckwheat, or freekeh. If you assemble the salad a day ahead, chill it overnight to take with you the next day. Keep it as cool as possible when you're traveling or at work/school.
- For the green Thai-style dressing:
- Roughly 1 cup coriander (cilantro), loosely packed, stems and all
- 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled (use a spoon to scrape off the skin)
- 1/4 red chili, or more to taste
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 teaspoons dried lemongrass, optional
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple juice, pomegranate juice, or more coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon palm sugar or honey
- 1 teaspoon brown miso paste
- For the salad:
- Coconut oil
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/3 cup dry quinoa
- 3 tablespoons green Thai-style dressing
- 1 small carrot, grated, julienned, or spiralized
- Handful of pomegranate seeds (optional)
- Large handful of baby spinach leaves
- Add all of the dressing ingredients to a blender, and whizz it up into a smooth sauce. Pour into a lidded jar, and chill until needed. (This recipe makes excess dressing.)
- Preheat the oven 350°F.
- Place a dollop of coconut oil onto a baking tray, and put into the oven to melt (about 2 minutes). Meanwhile peel and cube the sweet potato, then throw it onto the baking tray, and toss, covering it with the melted coconut oil. Sprinkle with salt, and roast in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
- While the sweet potato is cooking, put the quinoa into a fine-mesh strainer, and rinse. Then tip it into a small pot along with 2/3 cup water. Season with a pinch of salt, and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, and leave it to sit, covered for 5 minutes.
- Assemble the salad in a jar, then screw on the lid, and chill until needed.
- First layer — 3 tablespoons dressing
- Second layer — carrot
- Third layer — quinoa
- Fourth layer — sweet potato
- Fifth layer — pomegranate
- Sixth layer — as much spinach as you can pack in!
- When you're ready to eat: shake the salad out of the jar into a bowl, or when assembling, pack the layers loosely in a larger jar so you can dig straight in!
- Salads, Main Dishes
- 1 salad, plus extra dressing