If you really must eat at your desk, then you might as well do it with some style.
Actually, I am hoping this post might spark enough contributions of desk food recipes from other people, so I can make up a whole book on the subject and thereby afford to eat out every lunchtime in nice restaurants with clean linen tablecloths and quietly deferential staff. Send your ideas and favourite recipes to firstname.lastname@example.org. The best recipe will get a free lunch from me (anything from Harvester upwards considered).
The rule here is as follows:
No recipe should need cooking – i.e. all ingredients can be bought from a local supermarket and none of the ‘dishes’ require anything more to prepare them than a plate, a reasonably sharp knife, fork a spoon. And a desk.
One other consideration is that there are presumably other people in your workplace who don’t necessarily want to be living with your lunch three days after you made it, so I have tried to steer clear of garlic and/or fish.
Here are my five contenders for the most stylish (and delicious) desk-eating dishes around …
THE GREATEST BLT EVER
The French lay claim to the best cuisine in the world but the crowning achievement to the world of haute cuisine sur le hoof is the British sandwich. As any schoolboy worth their pack lunch can tell you, this was the brainchild of John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich (1718–1792), who wouldn’t stop gambling for long enough to eat properly, so he got hold of a waiter and asked him to bring him a slab of beef between two slices of bread.
This sounds very much like he may have also invented sliced bread in the process.
Anyway, the BLT is a staple of any meeting or late lunch. It is simply brown bread – lightly toasted – lettuce, tomato and bacon (ready cooked can be picked up from any half-decent supermarket). Fresh, warm Ciabatta can be used as an interesting alternative to sliced bread.
The killer ingredient here, amongst firm tomatoes and lettuce, is a dot or two (no more) of Tobasco with mayonnaise. Failing that, English mustard and a generous twist of ground black pepper.
PANCETTA AND BROAD BEANS
This is one of the only occasions when I will willingly tuck into broad beans.
- Broad Beans
- Olive Oil
- Brown Bread
If you can’t find any pancetta near you, ready-cooked ham or bacon bits are fine. Don’t spare the olive oil.
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- 6 teaspoons cocoa
- 1/2 cup cold milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 2 cups quick oatmeal
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
What you do:
- Mix sugar, milk and butter for 2 minutes.
- Add vanilla, coconut, cocoa, salt and oatmeal.
- Drop on to a waxed paper lined square baking dish.
- Place in the refrigerator to cool or on a window ledge.
- Cut into squares and give them to girls.
- One russet apple
- Handful of black berries (these seem to be available all-year around now)
- Packet of digestives
Bung these in your mouth all at the same time and you have a healthy, uncooked version of Sunday lunch crumble.
- Sliced banana
- Yoghurt (soy)
- Soy milk
- Mixed berries and muesli (An alternative to this is pineapple and choc chips).
It looks like you’ve just blended your hands but tastes delicious and is incredibly healthy.
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So there you go, some desk food recipes. They won’t replace the joys of a two-hour lunch in The Ivy, but you won’t fall into a drunken stupor on the train home and wake up in St Ives.
Robin Bennett is the author of the self-starter’s guide to entrepreneurship: How to Make a Good Living Running Your Own Business, and the hilarious debunking of the housing market: Kicking the Property Ladder.