Not Sad Desk Lunch

The Smitten Kitchen Approved Trick for Easy On-the-Go Lunches

January 26, 2018

Last night, I had the opportunity to talk with Deb Perelman, cookbook author and mastermind behind everyone’s favorite food blog, Smitten Kitchen. She was teaming up with actress Tia Mowry to help her debut a slew of kitchen hacks for busy eating on the go. After her presentation at the Life Hack Academy Live Presented by Ford EcoSport, I sat down with Perelman to chat hacks, snacking, and her preferred method for making iced americanos. She, of course, had nothing but great suggestions, so I figured I’d share them with you all here.

Below is a condensed version of our conversation; it’s been edited for flow and clarity.

On the importance of ease

Although we’re all super into cooking and cooking solutions, I think sometimes people are really just looking for a little hack so they can make dinner on a Monday night. It’s not always about Let me teach you how to make soufflés.

On the salad hack that will change the way you lunch

The mason jar salad. Tia used a really big jar, so you get the stuff on the bottom to marinate in your dressing then put all the lettuce on top. I kind of want to go home and put three of those in my fridge so I can have lunch for the next couple of days without having to think about it.

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Diced peppers, carrots, I’d also add in chickpeas. Stuff that you want to soak in your dressing. What I thought was so interesting about using a large jar is that you have almost a whole cup of space left over for putting salad greens in. I don’t feel like this is a really new concept, but sometimes you just need someone to stand in front of you and make it for you.

On the snacks she always keeps on hand

I like a good eight-minute egg. It’s not hard-boiled, it’s not soft-boiled—it’s like a little bit in between. I really like it with salt and pepper and a little bit of dijon, just a tiny smear. That’s definitely a snack I rely on a lot at home. I also always keep toasted nuts around, and when I toast them, I usually put a little bit of salt. It’s the same thing you’d buy, but you can give it a little more flavor. And I’m a shameless purchaser of precut mango. Sometimes I’m cooking all day, making breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the kids. I think precut fruit is worth it.

On the iced coffee method we can't wait to try

I think I’ve successfully re-created an iced americano using my stovetop espresso maker. To make a regular americano, you take an espresso and add water to it, but in this case, you use ice cubes instead of water, and they basically halfway melt. I found that if you pour the hot espresso over ice, it works out so that you get the americano effect plus the ice left over. And because it’s espresso, not coffee, it’s not watery and gross. Ice plus hot espresso makes it both cold and the right level of diluted.

What's your favorite Smitten Kitchen tip or trick? Let us know what hacks you can't quit in the comments below.

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Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.