Monday, March 16, 2009

brown baggin'

I was thrilled to see this article this morning on Grub Street but was left slightly disappointed by the suggestions. I don't know, canned smoked oysters with toast points just didn't send me. Anywhere. Besides maybe camping in Alaska. The point is, brown bagging your lunch is smart. Obviously from an economic standpoint but I'm going to argue for the sake of variety as well. I know that I too fall victim to the lunchtime doldrums when I feel like if I have to eat my ham and arugula whole wheat wrap sandwich one more time, I'm going to lose my damn mind. However, here's an opportunity to add some spice (yep, pun intended) to your day. You control the quality of ingredients, the heat factor, the amount of condiments...everything. And the possibilities are in fact, quite endless.

Here's an idea. Take two pork tenderloins (surprisingly inexpensive) and marinate them for as long as you can, preferably overnight, in some fresh squeezed orange juice, orange zest, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and freshly chopped oregano or thyme. Throw it in a large ziploc bag on Sunday morning and cook it off Sunday night. Over medium high heat, sear the tenderloin on all sides till evenly browned and just cooked through, about 20 minutes. And just like that, you're done with your protein for the week.

Now, it's totally up to you. You can thinly slice it and put it on a baguette with some chipotle mayo, avocado, and lettuce for a far from average sandwich. Beware, this will cause some lunchtime envy.

Other ideas? Make a quick cuban. Again on a baguette, add sliced pork, some dijon mustard, thinly sliced bread and butter pickles, and some swiss cheese. No panini press at work? You can zap it in the microwave (or better yet, toaster oven!) if need be or just enjoy it cold.

Make a quick whole wheat orzo salad with chopped spinach, olives, feta, and red onion, lightly dressed with some lemon juice, lemon zest, and olive oil. Throw on some of the sliced pork and you've got a complete, quick little meal.

You can also throw it into a quick soup. Heat up some chicken broth with freshly grated garlic and ginger. Add half a can of lite coconut milk. Add in some thinly sliced mushrooms (shitake would be lovely but button mushrooms are just as swell and much cheaper), juliened pieces of pork and wonton wrappers cut into strips. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes and tada! An Asian-inspired wonton-esque soup that was thrown together in seconds.

Now, who said brown bagging had to be boring? I happen to find any one of the above options to be extraordinarily thrilling and divine!

I should probably chill out. But you? Have at it.

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