In my Happy Healthy Habits course, the very first habit of Earlier, Lighter Dinners brings up questions about what to eat for lunch. The concept that lunch should be our heavier meal of the day is antithetical to current societal norms, and having a nourishing lunch can make meal planning more difficult if we have to pack it to go.
This is one of the meals I’ve prepared for myself that is perfect for bringing to the office, to school, on a picnic, or enjoying at home. It is a balanced meal, and the couscous and hummus make it more substantial than a green salad, so it’s perfect for lunch. If you want to make it even heartier and add more healthy fats/protein, you could mix in walnuts, almonds, or pine nuts, or add avocado, a sliced hard-boiled egg, or your choice of meat on top.
Mediterranean Couscous Salad
A balanced meal — the couscous and hummus make it more substantial than a green salad, so it's perfect for lunch!
- 1 cup dry couscous (or 4 cups pre-cooked couscous)
- 1½ cup water
- ½ head cauliflower, cut into florets, stems peeled and sliced into coins
- ½ head broccoli, cut into florets, stems peeled and sliced into coins
- 2 small sweet onions (or 1 large sweet onion)
- 2 tbsp + ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil (for roasted vegetables and for dressing)
- MSalt, to taste (for roasted vegetables and for dressing)
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 cup canned artichoke hearts, drained, quartered
- 14 kalamata olives, pitted, quartered
- ⅓ cup lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 bunch spinach (optional)
- 1 cup hummus, homemade or store-bought (optional)
Couscous (I just used couscous I had made the previous day):
Make the couscous according to package instructions. Fluff the cooked couscous with a fork and transfer to a large bowl.
Preheat oven to 425ºF. Mix broccoli, cauliflower, and onions together in a large bowl with extra virgin olive oil and MSalt. Transfer to cooking sheets. Roast in oven for 12-15 minutes, or until tender.
In a small bowl, whisk together the rest of the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, MSalt, and black pepper.
To Serve (Optional)
Serve on a bed of spinach (I just use a handful for each serving). Add a dollop of hummus on top and a few sprigs of cilantro to garnish.
COOKING AND MEAL PREP TIPS:
- Make some sort of grain in bulk for your week and put it in a container in your fridge. Then you can mix and match pre-cooked grains with different kinds of vegetables, beans, nuts, etc., and not make a new one each time you want to cook something. And mix up the kinds of grains you use: I was getting sick of quinoa, so I used couscous this week.
- Make roasted vegetables in bulk for the week too, and get creative with the types of veggies you roast and the spice blends you use. Some of my other favorite vegetables to roast are sweet potatoes, shallots, mushrooms, zucchini, beets, asparagus, and green beans. I only used MSalt for this recipe to keep things simple, but you could use an Italian spice blend, curry powder, Asian Blend, or your favorite spice mix as well, depending on the kind of dish you’re making.
- Add whatever kinds of raw vegetables you like to a salad like this. Some of my other favorites to throw into a salad include cucumber, edamame (you can just buy it frozen and put it in the salad to thaw!), bell peppers, jicama, and tomatoes.
- Add more or less of any ingredient in the dressing. I tend to deconstruct my dressings and add each ingredient to a salad separately, tasting the salad after adding each ingredient to see what other flavors are needed.
- I make homemade hummus because I like it more than store-bought and it’s cheaper and healthier. But if I don’t have time to make it, I’ll buy some to have on hand and use it for recipes and with raw veggies to dip. The best kind I’ve found is Trader Joe’s Hummus Dip.
- To make this meal even heartier and add more healthy fats/protein, you could mix in walnuts, almonds, or pine nuts, or add falafel, avocado, a sliced hard-boiled egg, or your choice of meat on top.
Enjoy your hearty lunch, and remember to get creative in the kitchen. You don’t have to follow a recipe perfectly: make it however is best for YOU!