I'm definitely a bag-luncher. While I enjoy the occasional salad-bar salad or panini, I find that bringing my lunch to work is often healthier and more cost-efficient than the alternative. Especially since I work in Georgetown, where lunch joints are pretty high-end, and (as you all surely know) I'm not the biggest fan of Subway, bag lunches are my speed.
As someone who routinely brings my lunch to work, and I'm always on the lookout for recipes that are simple to make, easy to nuke or tasty at room temperature, and pack in servings of carbs, vegetables, and protein. Needless to say, there are plenty of these recipes floating around the blogosphere, which has given me ample opportunity to experiment.
I was poking around on 101 cookbooks, which is a truly fabulous source for healthful and vegetarian recipes, and I found this chickpea and zucchini stir-fry recipe that looked great: lemon was the main seasoning ingredient, and the flavors looked clean and fresh. I'd been chomping on the recipe for a few days, mentally adding a few more elements and dressing up the whole thing a bit more complexly. Yams for sweetness and substance, scallions and parsley for color, "green" flavor and bite, and tahini and garlic to add to the lemon for a thicker, protein-filled dressing. I also figured I'd slow-roast the vegetables in order to caramelize them.
The resulting salad was everything I look for in a pack-your-own lunch dish: it had plenty of carbs and protein, pronounced caramel undertones from the browned vegetables, and a tangy, nutty bite. Honestly, I could take this for lunch several days in a row and not get bored (much like the cauliflower I took last week). In fact, I took it last Friday and yesterday, and I'll be taking it again, you can bet on it.
Yam, Zucchini, and Chickpea Salad inspired by 101 Cookbooks
For the salad:
2 yams or sweet potatoes, diced into 1-inch pieces 1 zucchini, diced into 1-inch pieces 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained 2 garlic cloves 3 sprigs parsley, leaves finely chopped 2 scallions, thinly sliced on bias olive oil
For the dressing:
1 tablespoon tahini zest and juice of 1 lemon salt and pepper 1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment or silicone.
Spread diced sweet potatoes in a single layer on prepared baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Roast 35-40 minutes, then add zucchini and roast an additional 10-15 minutes, until both vegetables are softened inside and caramelized in spots. If vegetables haven't caramelized at that point, pop them under the broiler for 3 minutes, and they'll brown plenty.
In a small frying pan over medium heat, saute chickpeas and whole garlic cloves in 1 tablespoon of olive oil (just enough to moisten) for about 3 minutes, until the chickpeas dry out a bit and are warmed through. Remove garlic cloves, chop finely, and reserve for dressing.
In a medium bowl, mix chickpeas with yams and zucchini. Add parsley and scallions, and toss to combine.
In a small bowl, combine tahini, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, and half of chopped garlic. Add water by the teaspoon until the dressing is smooth and runny. Taste, and add additional chopped garlic if necessary. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over vegetables, toss to coat, and serve warm or room temperature.