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An Impromptu Lunch Impressive Enough for Guests

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As a defiant response to sad desk lunches, the Food52 team works to keep our midday meals both interesting and pretty. Each week, we'll be sharing our happiest desk lunches—and we want to see yours, too.

Today: What do you cook off the cuff when an acclaimed cookbook author comes for lunch?

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What do you make for someone who has dined at every good restaurant, eaten her way around the globe, and cooked everything (except kidneys, we later learned)? Add to that puzzle that the the morning-of, you are without a plan.

These are the cards we had stacked against us when Diana Henry, author most recently of A Bird in the Hand and A Change of Appetite, came to the offices last week for lunch. 

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I figured the greenmarket could provide some direction, but with asparagus still two weeks out, stands only had the hardy roots and apples I've been eating for what seems like years. So I bought the roots (kohlrabi and golden beets) because there had to be lunch—and then apples, because someone had to buy up all those apples. Add to the mix some cusp-of-spring spicy lettuces, cilantro, ciabatta, and cheese—to make something presentable.

  

My prolonged and fruitless hunt for peas, ramps, and fava beans at the greenmarket didn't leave enough time to roast the roots, so I shaved them, as well as the apples, with a mandoline. A sunny dressing of lemon zest and juice, mustard, and white balsamic, with some toasted hazelnuts as garnish, and that was that: a lunch that feels like spring when there are no spring vegetables. Or in our case, a lunch for an author on book tour who was sick of big meals—and that was impressive enough to make her think we knew what we were doing.

Photos by the Food52 editorial team 

Tags: lunch, salad, diana henry, spring