The Art of the Lunchbox #3

Glorious Grains

They’re the things lurking in the back of your cupboard: the buckwheat you bought because you were curious, lentils (yes, not technically a grain) when you were on that diet, and quinoa because… well what is quinoa?

These can now all stand tall as your lunch time saviours.

If you have grains and a fridge: you have lunch. Pretty much any of the above can be tossed with some lemon and olive oil as the basis for a vibrant meal. Vegetables that have sat around a little too long and look as though their next home will be the compost? Roast them and stir through wild rice. An awkward amount of goats cheese? Dreamy mixed with some farro.

Grains to stock your cupboards with:

1) Quinoa (keen-wa): my absolute favourite as it really does go with everything.

It’s a complete protein (all nine essential amino acids) and wonderfully wheat-free. It comes from South America in red and white. If you’re scared by it, it’s easiest to think of it as couscous (only better). I always cook it by the packet instructions, and on a simmer it takes no more than fifteen minutes. Best to let it sit for a little while after so it can dry off. This achieves the best texture – but it’s no drama if you don’t have time. It is slightly nutty and fluffs up when cooked.

2) Buckwheat: despite its deceiving name it’s another wheat-free option, coming from a fruit seed.

It is full of flavonoids which boost Vitamin C and act as antioxidants, so you can snack detoxingly happy. Again, cook by the packet and let sit. It has a deliciously darker taste, a bit like toast.

3) Farro: this is a fun one, with a texture between rice and orzo that will bring an Italian vibe to your lunch.

Full of cyanogenic glucosides (yes, I wondered too) it regulates blood sugar levels and lowers cholesterol. It has a nutty soft chew and I tend to use it with richer, heavier flavours. Again just cook by packet instructions, it’s very simple.

Those are my top three grains, but the ‘throw it all in’ process is one that can be 
 applied to so many things: pasta, bulgar wheat, lentils, barley, couscous. All make a lighter lunch mixed with chopped green leaves.

Your lunch box will look bright and well-considered, even when you know that all it is are the leftovers from your fridge.


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