What to CookLunchSaladsNot Sad Desk Lunch

4 Keys to Keeping Salads Interesting *And* Well in The Fridge

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We hit the road with Tillamook to take Not Sad Desk Lunch to the masses—and second on the list was chic clothing brand Everlane in San Francisco. (See the first one, at L.A.'s Headspace, here.)

You could say guacamole is like mashed up avocado salad, but that doesn’t make it a legitimate lunch. So here’s the next best thing, which won’t leave you snacky at 3 P.M. and can keep in the fridge for up to a few days. If you’ve made the salad in advance (which is recommended here), revive it with a little more lime, olive oil, and salt before eating. Oh sure, add avocado, too—why not?

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Spicy “Rice” and Bean Salad
Spicy “Rice” and Bean Salad

When we served this salad at a Not Sad Desk Lunch at Everlane, one employee said that it was like a salad version of what they might’ve eaten at Chipotle, without the incumbent naptime. It has that much intrigue, that much flavor, that much going on. Take a peek at our visit to Everlane below:

We're sharing the same tips here that we gave to them. When you’re looking for a mighty salad to fill you up at lunch and hang out in your fridge for a few days, keep these few things in mind:

1. Protein: Here, we’ve got beans, lentils, cheese, and avocado. The first three will hold up in your lunch bag, and you can hack up the avocado at your desk and stir it in right when you're going to eat. Cut out the lentils, or the beans, or the avocado, or the cheese, and you still have a salad that’ll keep you keeping on.

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The makings of a brown bag-ready lunch.
The makings of a brown bag-ready lunch. Photo by James Ransom

2. Crunch: Eat a soggy, monotonous salad and you’ll be diving into a chip bag in no time—looking for crunch. By whizzing cauliflower florets into “rice” and chucking it raw into the salad, you have a vegetable—a vegetable that stays crunchy after a few days. And you have a vegetable that’s practically spoonable, which means you could, yes, eat this salad with chips.

3. Flavor zingers: I look to lunch to revive me from my usual computer vortex. After looking at pictures of food all day, I want to really taste it, so my salads don’t tend to be wallflowers. This salad gets its kick from a trick we learned from Roberto Santibañez’ genius guacamole: You mash jalapeño, onion, cilantro, and salt into a paste that then coats all the other ingredient chunks. The cheddar cheese is sharp, in such a good way. And by squeezing a lime over the salad right before eating, whatever flavors might have subsided during days in the fridge will perk back up.

4. Lettuce-friendly: The base recipe doesn’t have greens because we were going after a salad that would hold for a few days in the fridge, but it will happily stretch for another day over a bed of greens: arugula, kale, iceberg, what have you. And if you want to add another vegetable—roasted squash, or zucchini, or cucumbers—by all means.

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Spicy “Rice” and Bean Salad

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Makes 4 lunches
  • 1/2 cup green lentils, rinsed
  • 1/2 head cauliflower
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini, pinto, or black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • Half a medium jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar, cut into itty bitty cubes
  • 1 lime, plus more as needed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 avocado (optional)
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Tell us: What are your go-to pack-and-go salads?

Watch out West Coast: We're taking Not Sad Desk Lunch on the road with Tillamook, visiting friends in 3 cities to share tips, tricks, and recipe inspiration for packing a work lunch you'll be looking forward to all morning. Head here for more info on where to get Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Cheese.

Tags: tilamook