One of the best things about working from home is allowing myself the time to have a proper lunch. After walking my dog at noon, I return home energized and head to the kitchen to feed him and make myself a salad with lots of leafy greens, good proteins and my standard dressing which consists of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, fleur de sel and cracked pepper. This afternoon break is essential for me and keeps me alert and focused the rest of the day.
On days when I have a little more time (like today), I like to make soups and warm salads, especially with quinoa. Today I made a gorgeous quinoa bowl with roasted butternut squash and kale. So healthy and vibrant! I even ate it outdoors as is was a ‘balmy’ 15C in my garden. Though I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.
The lunch, on the other hand, was a VERY good thing!
Here’s the recipe:
Quinoa Bowl with Butternut Squash and Kale
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp dried garlic
- fleur de sel
- cracked pepper
- 120g quinoa
- handful of finely chopped kale
- 1 small red onion, halved and finely sliced
- 1/2 pomegranate
Preheat oven to 190C and line a baking sheet with baking paper. In a bowl, mix the butternut squash with the olive oil, turmeric, cumin, garlic and salt and pepper. Spread the squash over the baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes. In the meantime, cook the quinoa according to package directions, adding the finely chopped kale during the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Stir the butternut squash and red onion through the quinoa and kale and divide over two bowls. Garnish each bowl with the pomegranate seeds, a drizzle of olive oil and fresh pepper.
Cake salé (savory cake) is easy to make and extremely versatile (you can experiment endlessly with different types of cheeses, meats, herbs and condiments). A good cake salé is lovely as lunch or a light dinner with soup and a salad. I also like to serve it as a late afternoon apéro in the company of a fruity, rosé Crémant de Bougogne.
Though the cake is best eaten on the day it is made, it does freeze well.
Cake with Olives, Goat Cheese & Piment d’Espelette
- 100g whole wheat flour
- 100g all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 ½ tsp piment d’Espelette
- 3 medium eggs
- 150ml milk
- 4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
- 150g soft goat cheese, in small chunks
- 100g kalamata olives, whole
- 1 ½ tbsps chives, chopped
- salt (preferably fleur de sel) and freshly-cracked pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 26 x 11 cm cake tin with baking paper. In a large bowl, mix the two flours with the baking powder. Add the piment d’Espelette and mix again. Make a well in the center of the mixture and crack in the eggs. Pour in the milk and oil, and whisk gently, just until combined. Using a spatula, fold in the goat’s cheese, olives and chives. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool before serving. Delicious with a green salad and a mustardy vinaigrette
For those who thought I only ate salads for lunch, think again! Every once in a while, I like to treat myself to something a little more decadent, yet equally healthy and full of vibrant flavors — like a spicy shakshouka! This beautiful Middle Eastern dish consists of eggs poached in a delectably rich tomato-based sauce. It’s super easy to make and is not only a perfect lunch, but you can also serve it as a light dinner with fresh flatbread. In that case multiply the quantities as needed (you might want to serve two eggs per person) and bake in a large dish. I think yogurt and figs would be a fitting dessert!
There are many different versions of this dish, so feel free to experiment with other flavors. I love to add a little piment d’Espelette to my shakshouka, but you can substitute with a pinch of cayenne or even add some (hot) smoked Spanish paprika. Enjoy!
Shakshouka for Two
- 1 tbsp olive oil, plus a bit more for the ramequin
- ½ medium red onion, finely chopped
- 1 red sweet pepper, deseeded, halved and finely sliced
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- ¼ tsp piment d’Espelette
- ½ ground cumin
- fleur de sel
- freshly grated pepper
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
- 2 small eggs
- chopped flat leaf parsley, to garnish
- bread or flatbread, to serve
Grease two individual, shallow 11cm ramequins with a bit of olive oil. Heat the 1 tbsp of oil in a small frying pan and gently sauté the onion and pepper for 10 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 190C. After the 10 minutes, add the tomatoes, piment d’Espelette, cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Increase the heat and cook the sauce for an additional 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until it is nice and thick and some of the tomato juices have evaporated. Divide the mixture over the ramequins. Make a small well in the middle of the sauce and break in an egg in each ramequin. Season with extra pepper. Bake for 6-8 minutes, depending on how you like your eggs. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with plenty of fresh bread for dipping.
My teen daughter is going back to school today, and I think I’m probably just as nervous as she is. How I wish I could keep her next to me forever. Safe, sheltered and with no worries to fill her head. And how I wish I could stop time. She’s 16 1/2 and talk of where to go to school in a few years has already begun. I was looking at a friend’s baby photos this morning and wondered where the time went. How did my little girl grow up so quickly?
This new year at school will probably be tough. She’s going to Dutch gymnasium, which is the equivalent of prep school in the US and takes six years to complete. It’s very challenging and demanding, but it’s the highest and best form of education, and I’m happy and honored that she can take part in it.
While she was home this summer, I always made lunch for us and we would eat it together, sometimes while watching crappy shows on TLC. Most of our lunches consisted of healthy salads, but every once in a while I would take her to a local café for a tuna sandwich and an iced coffee with a ton of whipped cream. Or, I would make her a whopper of an egg salad sandwich. There’s something really comforting about an egg salad sandwich, I think. Here’s my recipe. We’ll probably be eating this sandwich for lunch today as some comforting is definitely in order. Here’s to a new school year… and to all the moms who are in the same boat — much love!
PS: The number one tip I can give you with a recipe such as this one is to use the very best ingredients. That really makes all the difference with simple recipes that don’t call for many ingredients. All my ingredients are organic and as fresh as possible.
Best Egg Salad Sandwich
- 4 small eggs
- 1/4 red onion, minced
- 1 1/2 tbsp each chopped chives and flat leaf parsley
- 1/2 tsp curcuma
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsps mayonnaise
- fleur de sel
- freshly grated pepper
- 4 slices whole wheat bread
- lettuce leaves, to serve
- thinly sliced cucumber, to serve
Hard boil your eggs, let them cool slightly, peel them and put them into a bowl. Add in the onion, herbs, curcuma, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste. Break up the eggs using a fork and knife. You want it to be chunky, not smooth. Now, mix everything gently. Layer the slices of bread with the lettuce leaves and top with the egg salad and a few thin slices of cucumber (or pickle, if you like a stronger taste). Cut at a diagonal and serve to someone you love.