Big Little Recipes

A Lunch for When There's No Time for Lunch

October  5, 2021

A Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big everything else: flavor, creativity, wow factor. That means five ingredients or fewer—not including water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (like oil and butter), since we're guessing you have those covered. For the next few weeks, we’re sharing sneak peeks from the Big Little Recipes cookbook, all revving up to its release (blasts airhorn, throws confetti in the air).

What do you make when you don’t have time to make lunch?

When I asked people this question—on text, on Slack, on Instagram—the answers were endless. Pita and hummus. Ravioli and butter. A can of soup. Instant oatmeal. Instant ramen. Instant soba. Quesadillas. More quesadillas. Sandwiches. Ice cream sandwiches!

Frozen chicken nuggets. Frozen veggie burgers. Tomato, cucumber, and avocado. Tomato, cucumber, and cottage cheese. Chickpeas with tahini and hot sauce. Chickpeas with olive oil and balsamic. Chickpeas on toast. Sardines on toast. Avocados on toast. Eggs on toast. Eggs on rice. Eggs on udon.

I could keep going. You could keep going. All of which makes me think: Huh, none of us have time to make lunch, do we?

And yet, we still have to eat lunch. And we want it to taste, at the very least, not bad. Or even, dare I say it, actually good. All in the nine and a half minutes before that next meeting.

Working from the office means planning ahead and packing something—or, in lieu of that, heading to the nearest sandwich slash salad slash soup spot. Working from home means forgetting about it until, oh no, what am I going to do for lunch?

This week’s Big Little Recipe is actually two recipes, both plucked from our upcoming cookbook, and both dreamed up with WFH lunch—but make it fast—in mind. For each, all you need is a can of tuna, some sliced bread, and a couple other ingredients.

Ready, set, go.

Tuna Artichoke Melt

Melty, gooey, and overeager to be paired with a lemon seltzer. Marinated artichokes do all the work, even the dressing and seasoning.

Tuna Avocado Toast

Is it your new favorite avocado toast or your new favorite tuna salad? Trick question. It’s both. This would also be great as a closed sandwich if that's your thing.

Snag a copy of the Big Little Recipes cookbook in our Shop, or a slew of other places, like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million,, Hudson Booksellers, IndieBound, Powell's, or Target.

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. As an Amazon Associate and Skimlinks affiliate, Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.

Order now

Put down those long grocery lists. Inspired by the award-winning column, our Big Little Recipes cookbook is minimalism at its best: few ingredients, tons of flavor.

Order now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Desimealz
  • Roberta Baldo
    Roberta Baldo
  • Michele
  • BarbAnn60
  • Jody
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Desimealz October 7, 2021
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Roberta B. October 6, 2021
Superb recipes as usual from Emma. Thank you! I plan to buy your cookbook for my son, who loves to eat dinner with us, but can't always join us. He will love the ease of these recipes.
Emma L. October 6, 2021
Thank you so much, Roberta!
Michele October 5, 2021
This looks delicious Emma! Can't wait to try the artichoke one; yum!
Emma L. October 6, 2021
Thanks, Michele, hope you enjoy!
mczerwinski October 6, 2021
I enjoy watching you cook and come up with tastey and easy dishes of combos that have not come up until today. Thank you.
Much success with your cookbook. I will purchase today.
Emma L. October 6, 2021
Thank you, mczerwinski, that means a lot!
BarbAnn60 October 5, 2021
Was there an editorial "hiccup" in the second recipe? I ask because there is mention of adding a few tablespoons of marinade to recipe two and the footage looks like a jump back to the first recipe, and there's no marinade noted for avocado/tuna toast.
Emma L. October 6, 2021
There was a hiccup, apologies for that! The tuna avocado toast is just seasoned with lemon, salt, and pepper.
Jody October 5, 2021
While I love the idea of tuna and marinated artichoke hearts, I don't think I could handle the sodium. I have done tuna and avocado before, and it's great. Today for lunch, I cut a honeynut squash in half, scooped out the seeds, drizzled on some olive oil, seasoned it and put it in the toaster oven between meetings-it was ready in between the next 2 meetings. I paired it with some leftover dragon tongue beans with pancetta and mushrooms that I reheated in the microwave. Quick and delicious!
Emma L. October 6, 2021
Sounds like a very delicious lunch!