What to put in my lunch box?

Every year, my church hosts a holiday bible club for children from both Christian and non-Christian backgrounds.  This year I have had the pleasure of helping and tomorrow the kids will start flooding in for a week of fun and chaos.  There is a Spy Theme going on, and I'm pondering what to wear for the opening day - Sherlock's cloak or a bowler hat and black tie?? Choices, choices...  More importantly though, the leaders have been told to provide their own lunch, which opens so many possibilities.  For my placement year about two years ago I adopted the Bento lunch style, and I am hoping to repeat this again this year, not just for Holiday Club but for when I start my new job in little more than two weeks' time!  

I find making my own lunch so much more satisfying than queuing in a mediocre over-priced canteen where vegetarians are forced to buy either cheese laden dishes or salad.  No sir, not for me.  I am interested in tasty and cheap meals, be it left-overs from dinner or quick to prepare and healthy (well sometimes) dishes which have a tendency not to leak.  Upon saying that though, I find a bowl of homemade soup and a hunk of toasted bread in the cooler seasons so satisfying and warming and have somehow managed to carry said soup in a not 100% leak-proof container.  I suspect lots of kitchen roll was involved... Anyhow I digress again, my first lunch which I really hope I remember tomorrow is a couscous salad with broccoli and spinach pesto and grilled vegetables, finished off with an apple cupcake, apple bun and nectarine for dessert and snack.  It sounds complicated but really isn't and is ready in less than 20 minutes, score!  I would say it is a very healthy dish except I am pretty sure I cancelled all health brownie points by adding copious amounts of creamy goats' cheese.  What can I say? I love goats' cheese.  I hope you enjoy making and eating this as much as I do! 

Couscous with Broccoli and Spinach Pesto and Grilled Vegetables
(Serves 1)  

  • 2 Florets Broccoli - about 50g, broken into small pieces 
  • Handful Spinach, washed
  • 1 Small Red Pepper, deseeded and halved
  • 1 Small Courgette, finely sliced
  • 1/4 Large Onion, finely sliced
  • 1 Clove Garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1tsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2tsp Mixed Herbs
  • 10g approx. Goats' Cheese
  • 60-80g Couscous
  • 2tsp Vegetable oil 
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. Brush the courgettes and pepper skin lightly with oil then place until a grill until the pepper skins char - about 10 minutes.  In 5 minutes, check the courgettes and flip them to avoid burning.
  2. Cook the couscous as per instructions - I put mine in my lunch box with some pepper and herbs, covered with boiling water and closed the lid for 5 minutes.
  3. Place the broccoli into a ramekin and add about 50ml boiling water and cover with cling film then pierce.  Microwave for about 3 minutes full-power, remove and let stand for 5 minutes, add the spinach, recover and microwave for another minute, then leave to stand to continue cooking.
    -alternatively boil/steam the broccoli then spinach gently until tender
  4. Heat the oil in a small pan, add the onion and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes until the onions look tender.  Season and add the balsamic vinegar.  Peel the pepper and slice thinly, adding to the pan along with the courgette.  Mix well and add the couscous.
  5. Blend or process the broccoli, spinach, and half the goats' cheese until smooth(ish), season and add to the pan. Mix everything together and serve with the remaining cheese or box up for lunch. 


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