I am endlessly frustrated with my lack of imagination when it comes to my work lunches. I leave the house for work at 6.30am and I tend to throw together a sandwich while I’m cooking my porridge. This usually ends up being almond butter on gluten free bread. It’s fast and easy to make, I don’t have to worry about storage and I can eat it easily while chained to my desk. It’s not the healthiest sandwich in the world but it’s not the worst either. A couple of days a week I’ll try to bring a salad instead and I’m definitely better at this in summer but otherwise the sandwich rules. At weekends I can be just as bad, reaching for the gluten free bread and making toast with guess what...almond butter. I know, I must be stopped! Most weekends though, I try to make an effort to get away from bready things and make myself a decent and nutritious lunch to make up for my weekday lunch making lethargy.
This is a random lunch I threw together last weekend from ingredients I had at home. I had a red cabbage and wanted to try roasting it so I decided a rice salad would fit the bill perfectly. I mixed it with fennel as I liked the neutral colour to balance out that vibrant purple from the cabbage. Both the cabbage and fennel were delicious when nicely roasted and slightly caramelised. I threw in some of my old favourites, goat cheese, toasted nuts and dried cherries. The tang of the goat cheese really kicks the flavour up a level. Any combination of nuts and dried fruit would work. As for a dressing, I simply used extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and honey but feel free to make something a little more adventurous. It’s really a matter of taste and experimentation.
Red Cabbage and Fennel Rice
75g brown rice
Extra virgin olive oil
½ red cabbage shredded or about a cup
1 fennel bulb finely sliced
Handful toasted walnuts
Handful of dried cherries
Zest ½ lemon.
Goat cheese or feta cheese
Juice half a lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon honey
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6, 200°C, 400°F
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the rice according to pack instructions. Mine took 35 minutes. Once cooked drain and rinse.
While the rice is cooking combine the olive oil, fennel and cabbage in a large baking tray. Roast for 20 – 30 minutes checking to turn the veg half way through until beginning to brown. When the vegetables are nearly ready add the toasted nuts and cherries and return to the oven for the final five minutes until the cherries are plump.
When everything is ready add the cooked rice to the baking tray and toss with the vegetables, then mix in the lemon zest. Serve on plates topped with crumbled goats cheese and a drizzle of dressing. To make the dressing combine the ingredients in a small bowl or jar. Adjust according to taste.