Feb 2, 2016

Salad Days.

When you've eaten the same salads for lunch at work for the last eight (!!!) years, something's gotta give.  There's only so long that a person's taste buds can cope with the sameness that autopilot lunch making has forced upon them.  It's been my challenge this week to trial different salad options for my brown bagged work lunches and while I love the taste of them both, I think candidate number one wins on account of just how easy it is to prepare and transport.

Chang's Crispy Noodle Salad is one of those classic back of the packet recipes everyone seems to have made except for me.  My sister in law first put me onto the recipe at Christmas and I loved it so much it joined my holiday dinner rotation the next day.

You can buy the dressing ready made but where's the fun of having your toddler in the kitchen if all you're going to do is pour something out of a bottle?  As per the link above, the dressing recipe is incredibly easy and the ingredients are things with great shelf lives that are easy to pick up at Coles and Woolies.  I added some lime juice because I love the kick it gives salads and squeezing them somehow makes the kitchen feel like it's gone on an exotic tropical vacation.  Because I'm adventurous (and lazy), I did try making the dressing once without heating it over the stove to dissolve the sugar.  Wasn't that great so I wouldn't recommend it.

I've used the Chang's Crunchy Noodles in this version rather than the original fried noodles.  I also added some leftover baked chicken drumstick meat.  The pine nuts were quickly cooked in my turbo broiler (easier and less prone to burning than the stove top method of toasting them).

The salad transports well if you separate out the dressing, nuts, chicken and noodles into separate containers.  Because I toasted such a massive amount of pine nuts this time round, the only cooking I'll have to do for future batches of salad is to make the dressing and bake the drumsticks.  Definitely the kind of lunch I'd be happy to make ahead on a Sunday.

Gado Gado is one of my favourite Indonesian foods.  The idea of potatoes and hard boiled eggs together in a salad for lunch as been on my mind for quite some time.  The traditional version with bacon and a mayonnaise based dressing probably isn't the best option for an everyday lunch but eggs and potatoes with lots of par boiled veggies and a reduced fat peanut butter based dressing?  Yes please!!!

There are many recipes for home made versions of the gado gado peanut sauce ranging from complex and fully authentic to very simple interpretations.  Somewhere in the middle is this recipe I found on the NPR website.  Technically it's the love child of two other recipes, see link for details.  It is a bit of work, it does get a bit messy but you get pay off for your effort.  The dressing has a lovely taste to it that's a fair imitation of a dressing made completely from scratch, as in roasting your own peanuts kind of scratch.  I used palm sugar instead of brown and lime juice instead of tamarind paste.  The dressing does thicken when you heat it on the stove.

I've now got a month's worth of dressing which I'm scrambling around finding jars for.  Practically speaking, gado gado is only going to be a salad I'd make once a week, even with a ready made supply of the dressing.  It is a bit fiddly co-ordinating the par boiling of vegetables in one pot (a wok full of water works really well with a little sieve to skim off each batch of veg as they're cooked), potatoes in another and the hard boiled eggs.

Do you have any favourite salads to take to work for lunch?  What was the longest continuous stretch any one kind of lunch had in your life?


  1. That is a long time to eat the same salad for. When I was on maternity leave I ate a ham and cheese toastie every day for a year. It was quick and easy.


  2. I think I had tuna sandwiches every day for >1y when I was at school. I now cannot stand tuna, or having the same lunch more than 2 days in a row! It's made me lunch-high-maintenance. I like the look of the salad at the top, I could sub rice noodles to make it gluten free...

  3. When I was at primary school, I ate honey and peanut butter sandwiches every day. They remain one of my favourite comfort foods!
    If you have any great salad suggestions for work (apart from above, which are great), please let me know. Doing shiftwork I eat far too much rubbish. I'd be so happy eating a salad every single day. I have a couple of salads in my repertoire but I always get bored...


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