1 February 2012

Two great lunches, easily made.

Hot, soupy, flavoursome - who could ask for more?
Sometimes, particularly following a weekend, I'll go to the fridge and find the vegetable drawer is just full of little bits of veggies left in huge bags that are just getting in the way.  I find that quite annoying, as I like to be able to see what's in the veggie drawer, without having to rummage through enormous flapping bags of nothing.

So, I find the best way of getting rid of these bags (without exchanging them for other, smaller bags - like a freezer bag - which just doubles the packaging you've used) is to eat the contents.

Lunchtimes are by far and away the best time for this, as I'm usually only cooking for one (hubby very often will go for a sandwich) and dishes that are primarily vegetable aren't really his favourite thing.

A regular favourite - and way of using up some veggies - is the Ramen noodle.  As a supremely low fat lunch, this can't be beaten - although I do have some issues with the salt contained in the Ramen soup bases.  However, I don't eat a great deal of salt in the course of a day, so an occasional big hit of it won't do me any harm and in fact, probably just boosts my intake in a good way.

This noodle lunch was made by taking a pack of Ramen noodles similar to the Demae Ramen illustrated above.  First of all, take the bowl you're going to be eating from and measure sufficient water to fill two thirds of it.  Pour the water into a small saucepan and put on to boil, adding the "soup base" and "vegetables" sachets from the noodle pack.

While you're waiting, you can be cutting up your veggies to a chopstick or spoon-suitable size.  Bite sized chunks.  For this one, I used tenderstem broccoli, watercress and sweetcorn, so the only chopping that was required was with the broccoli.

Take care with the addition of chilli, as some of these noodle packs are completely vicious where their spicing is concerned.  One of my favourites renders me speechless every time, as I gasp for breath whilst seriously enjoying the chilli effect.

Once the water has boiled, I dunked in the noodles and added the broccoli's stem pieces.  This gives them a little longer in which to soften.  I then added a handful of frozen sweetcorn to the saucepan and measured out enough watercress to fill the bottom of the bowl.

Once the noodles have softened, but still retain a little bite, I turn off the cooker and decant (carefully, remember, it's hot!) the contents of the saucepan in on top of the watercress.  The heat from the liquid is enough to "cook" the watercress, whilst still leaving it with a little crunch.

Gently stir to distribute the veggies evenly, then settle down with chopsticks, a spoon and a huge napkin - because you're going to get it all down your front.  Guaranteed.

Once you're done, sit back with a happy sigh and feel virtuous.

My next lovely lunch was spawned on the back of some leftover plain basmati rice.

Aside from the rice, I also had a leftover leek, some spring onions and some chestnut mushrooms.  I also added a half a red chilli and a handful of frozen peas - plus an egg.

It was so easily done!  Start off with a frying pan to which you add some olive oil.  On a medium heat, add a beaten, seasoned, egg and cook until you have a small omelette.  Set this aside, to be sliced up and added at the end. Next, get the pan really quite hot and add a little more oil if necessary.  Then add the chopped spring onions and sliced leek and fry until beginning to soften.  Add the mushrooms and fry until they are demonstrably cooked and caramelised.  Add the chilli and peas and continue to cook for a minute or two, then add the leftover cooked rice and make sure to cook until it is piping hot.  Rice can harbour some evil germs, so be quite disciplined about getting it heated through.

Add the omelette to the pan and, as a last flourish, add a little light soy sauce.  Toss the rice to mix it through - and serve.

You won't need the enormous napkin for this one - just a smallish one.

With both these lunches, be prepared to have some envious looks pass your way as your companions munch their way disconsolately through a cheese & pickle sandwich.



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