Last part of my lockdown food series with more ideas for lunch during coronavirus time or otherwise.
Alright, here we are! The last part of my Lockdown lunch ideas series (here’s part 1), which first began during the lockdown period in Slovenia in March, but has now well outlasted the lockdown itself. In Slovenia our official coronavirus restrictions lasted from 13th of March until the 1st of June, and now things are slowly starting to return back to normal (what is normal though?).
However, I had actually made these lunches for me and my boyfriend during the lockdown period, so they deserve to be in part 4. Although this is the last part, fear not! I will still occasionally post food posts with meal ideas and some of my better culinary achievements, but they’ll be posted under my other casual cooking series, called Sometimes I cook.
At the beginning of our quarantine period I had challenged myself to not cooking the same thing twice as long as the lockdown last, and to really get creative with my food. After everyone on social media liked my ideas for lunch a lot, I figured I should share them here as well, for inspiration. So, if you’re currently still in lockdown or under restrictions, then you probably have some time to spare too – why not try something new and improvise within your budget and taste preferences? While I admit some of these are much fancier and more complicated than usual, because I was working from home and had time for these cooking projects, almost all of them are cookable in an hour or less. And of course, after this corona madness is over, these ideas can serve as weekend lunch ideas or fancy meal time inspiration, so read on.
Since this is part 4 and I’ve already written just about everything I can tell you about my philosophy of eating proper, balanced meals and how it’s important to make time for that, we’ll dive right into the lunch ideas instead of more intro:
#1: Salmorejo (Spanish cold soup), roasted veal steaks with garlic and black pepper, asparagus with historical sauce and mashed potatoes
The first one in this series features a Spanish cold tomato soup, salmorejo. Salmorejo is similar to its more famous cousin gazpacho, and they’re both very good. However, salmorejo is made with hard-boiled eggs and creamier, which is why I fell in love with it when I visited Andalusia back in 2013. Essentially it’s tomatoes, white bread fluff, olive oil, eggs, garlic and herbs with a bit of vinegar (the recipe I used is here).
I paired it with veal steaks with garlic and black pepper, mashed potatoes with sour cream and fresh green chillies and cooked asparagus with this historical egg yolk sauce that my archaeologist boyfriend had dug out somewhere online. It’s super tasty, so I’ve also mentioned it in some of the other parts of this food series and it’s definitely something you should try.
#2: Chard-cauliflower cream soup with roasted garlic, poached egg, sour cream and safflower + rhubarb banana muffins
Next up we had chard-cauliflower cream soup, which was a pretty standard blended vegetable soup with cooking cream and some grits for nourishment. However, I topped it with a poached egg, sour cream, safflower and roasted garlic, which instantly made it fancy and delicious as heck.
Later that day I also made rhubarb banana muffins, which is now my favourite flavour combination for muffins. I used white flour, coconut milk, diced fresh mint and ginger, sunflower oil, baking powder, a pinch of salt and some sugar for the dough (standard muffin ratios and quantities), then mixed in the diced banana and rhubarb. The result was beyond amazing, I promise you!
#3: Stir fry chicken with mushrooms, leeks, onions, garlic, soy and oyster sauce and sesame seeds
Personally, I love Asian food and Asian-inspired rice and noodle dishes. I used to make a lot of various stir fries for a while, but I guess I got a bit fed up while I lived in Sweden, because they always had a 3 for 1 special on noodles. 🙂 Anyhow, I finally got a craving for one again during quarantine, so I made this. This one was a simple stir fry with roasted mushrooms, leeks, onions and garlic. I added oyster sauce, soy sauce brine from quick pickled garlic, chilli powder and cumin and served it on boiled rice topped with sesame seeds and spring onions. I really should make this more often!
#4: Oven-baked meat and green lentil meatballs in tomato sauce with boiled potatoes
Next up was an experiment, which actually turned out quite well: meatballs with half minced meat and half green lentils, inspired by my friend’s vegan cooking. Although I love regular meatballs, the lentils add a really nice, smoky flavour and spicing them with turmeric, chilli, nutmeg, cinnamon and paprika made it even better. I made them baked in the oven in tomato sauce with lots of basil, bay leaves, oregano, onions, paprika, garlic and scrap soup stock, along with boiled potatoes and topped with spring onions.
Turns out these meatballs would be a really great solution if you’re trying to eat less meat or save money, because the lentils are cheap, healthy and filling. If you want a vegetarian version, you can always just make it with lentils only, but I like my meat.
#5: My version of chicken Ceasar’s salad
By that time I was craving a nice restaurant salad plate, so I decided to try making a Ceasar’s salad and I’m happy to say I nailed it. I had lettuce, corn, pickled onions, parsley leaves and green spring onions seasoned with lime juice and olive oil as a base. Then I put roasted zucchini, root celery, garlic and chicken on top and drenched it in fresh herb yoghurt and mayonnaise dressing. For me mayonnaise dressings are too strong, so I prefer to half mix them with yoghurt, which makes them fresher. Of course I also added some grated Parmesan cheese and the pretty purple blooms are chives flowers, which are edible by the way.
#6: Roasted tuna steaks with bell peppers, zucchini feta cheese muffins and salad
In part 3 I mentioned we’d found an amazing seafood delivery, so we ate like kings for a while. This lunch was roasted tuna steaks and bell peppers with honey dill mustard, zucchini feta muffins and salad. I made the tuna rare and it tasted incredible with the tangy feta cheese and zucchini. It was actually the first time I’d made savoury muffins and I’m now a believer. They were so soft and fluffy and fast to make, so I froze some unbaked muffin mass to take to work later.
#7: Pork steaks with grilled artichokes, buckwheat porridge with mushrooms, garlic, butter and sage and salad
Another one of our delivery hauls were artichokes, the small purple Istrian variety that they grow in the seaside parts of Slovenia. I made them roasted and sauteed on a bit of olive oil – they got slightly charred, but they were perfect on the inside. We had them with pork steaks and buckwheat porridge with mushrooms, sage, butter and garlic. The trick with buckwheat porridge is to pair it with something fatty, like oil or butter, so it softens a bit and gets a richer flavour. Sage and butter is a known awesome combination and apparently it goes great with buckwheat porridge, so give it a go!
#8: Spaghetti with artichokes and tuna fillets in soy garlic brine sauce with rosemary + mascarpone strawberry caramel dessert
Next up was a rather risky, but surprisingly delicious experiment with artichoke pasta. I made spaghetti with boiled artichoke hearts, lots of garlic, rosemary, bits of leftover tuna fillets, spring onions and leftover soy sauce garlic brine. Also, Parmesan cheese, of course. I admit, this sounds like a very weird combination of flavours, but somehow it worked out well and I think the key was in getting the right amount of each ingredient. That said, I’d probably be unable to recreate it, but that’s part of the fun of cooking by feel and also the reason I never write recipes. I believe it’s better to just provide ideas for lunch as inspiration and let you improvise something out with the ingredients you have available.
I also made a quick dessert: the first layer consisted of wholegrain cookies with a spoon of oatmeal almond milk for moisture, then a layer of mascarpone and a layer of strawberries with strawberry caramel. I love mascarpone and it’s a very versatile ingredient that should be experimented with, it’s not just for Tiramisu.
#9: Polenta with sauteed radicchio, mushrooms, blue cheese and pickled onions + marscarpone apricots with honey and mint
This one was super simple, but also quite fancy. The base was polenta, the ground cornmeal thingie, topped with sauteed radicchio with Gorgonzola cheese, spring onion greens and marjoram, as well as roasted mushrooms and quick pickled onions. You can also see a sneaky chives bloom in there if you look closely, as well as another quick mascarpone dessert. This one was made with apricots, honey and mint and I daresay it looks very pretty.
#10: Chard cream soup with octopus salad
Number 10 is another seafood extravaganza: it was my first time cooking an octopus. Octopi are notoriously difficult to boil correctly, because they turn hard and rubbery if you overcook them. I cooked mine with lots of vegetables, spices and soup stocks and I guess I was semi-successful at making it tender, but it was still good. I made octopus salad with capers, boiled potatoes, summer savory and black pepper, as well as olive oil and lemon juice for dressing. We ate bread and a chard parsley cream soup with some of the octopus soup stock with it.
#11: Pan-fried peas and beans tempeh with boiled artichokes, oven-baked zucchini, fermented rhubarb salsa and cucumber lettuce salad
This next one was an almost completely green coloured lunch. We had roasted pea and black beans tempeh, which I think is my current favourite flavour of tempeh, as well as roasted zucchini and garlic, boiled artichoke hearts with salt and butter, homemade fermented rhubarb salsa and a large salad with lettuce, cucumber and spring onions. I’m actually pretty impressed with the tempehs this shop makes in Slovenia, so we’ll be eating them more often.
#12: Miso risotto with mushrooms, leeks and parmesan
Number 12 is my new favourite dish: miso risotto with mushrooms and leeks. Miso is an umami-flavoured Asian fermented soy paste, which you’ll normally find in miso soups, but it can be used for other things as well. My friend gave me this recipe and it’s quick, delicious and something special. She does vegan recipes, but I add Parmesan and butter to mine and I’ve made it 3 times already since I’d learned about it, which is a testimony to how delicious it is.
#13: Salmon fillets with skuta (curd cheese) dumplings, asparagus and young spinach salad
Next one was super healthy: roasted salmon with basil, cooked asparagus, young spinach salad with nutmeg and curd cheese dumplings in asparagus mascarpone sauce with garlic and onions. In Slovenia we have a type of curd/cottage cheese called skuta and apparently it makes for great dumplings. Basically you just mix lots of grits (or something dry that absorbs moisture) with curd cheese, optional chopped garlic, an egg and some black pepper. Leave the mix to soak for about 20 minutes, then shape it into dumplings with a spoon and cook them in boiling water.
#14: One tray baked vegetable mess with eggs
I’m calling this one a one tray mess, because it was essentially a huge amount of oven-baked veggies in one tray, topped with eggs and spring onions. I put in chopped eggplant, zucchini, chickpeas, chard, tomatoes (fresh and canned) and grilled cheese, added some scrap soup stock, bay leaves, paprika, marjoram, peppercorns and Parmesan. This is probably the simplest meal on my ideas for lunch list in this series, but it takes a while to bake through and through, because you want all the liquid to boil out before adding the eggs on top.
#15: Miso soup with noodles and leeks, green radicchio salad with grilled cheese, peaches, tomatoes and chimichurri dressing
Last but not least, number 15. Did you notice there were 14 ideas for lunch in all the other parts and this one has 15? It bothers me, but that’s how it is.
Anyway, the last one was one of my fancy salad bowls with miso soup with noodles and leeks. This salad was one of my more creative attempts with a green radicchio base, topped with tomatoes, peaches, grilled cheese and chimichurri dressing. Chimichurri (recipe here) is a South American sauce with lots of cilantro and parsley, which works amazingly well with peaches, at least for me. I’ve also made sandwiches with this combo, but originally it’s meant as a meat sauce, particularly for barbecues and such.
P.S.: If you think peaches don’t belong on a salad or with anything savoury, I urge you to reconsider, because these combos are delicious.
And with this I’m wrapping up my Lockdown lunch ideas food series, so if you’ve actually read all 4 parts, thank you! I hope it gave you some new ideas for lunch, because I promise these are all actual lunches we had during the lockdown period here in Slovenia. I only skipped a couple of the ones that were too similar to something I’d already posted on this blog, one culinary fail and two which were actually takeaway lunches for our daytrips around Slovenia after the restrictions had been relaxed a bit. However, all of them are saved on my Instagram profile under the #cookathome highlight, which is a hashtag you can also check out for more food inspiration by other people.
So, whether you’re still in lockdown in your country or not, I wish you good health and lots of cooking inspiration. I hope you liked my final batch of ideas for lunch, feel free to ask me about any specifics in the comments and tag me if you cook something! 🙂