Perfect Lunches for a Week: Butternut Squash, Chickpea, and Kale Salad

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Good morning! I’m back from my recent travels and am excited to share a handful of recipes with you. Thanks, by the way, to those of you that gave me great tips for dining veg in Europe!

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I’m particularly excited about this recipe. I call it perfect because, in addition to being oh so tasty, it’s a super easy and cheap way to have a sack lunch during the week. It works great to cook up a big batch of the ingredients on Sundays, and then quickly assemble the salads into tupperwares (maybe wait til the morning of to dress them) for weekday lunches.

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For an example, on Sunday:

Cook a batch of chickpeas. Soak them overnight or do a quick soak (bring dry beans to a boil, boil for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and let sit for 45 min), then bring to a boil in a large pot. (I use 2 parts water per 1 part chickpeas. Remember that 1 cup dried chickpeas yields about 2 1/2 cups cooked) Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 1 hour.

– Meanwhile, roast a butternut squash. Cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and pierce the flesh with a knife. Place in a baking dish in 1/2 inch water (to prevent the skin from burning), drizzle with olive oil, and bake at 400 F until tender and golden (~45 min in my oven).

– Meanwhile, cook the quinoa. Add 1 part quinoa per 2 parts water to a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed. Note that 1 cup dry quinoa yields about 2-3 cups cooked.

– Meanwhile, clean and chop the kale, onion, almonds, and any other veggies you want to toss in.

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Now you have lunches for the whole week! I also love that this dish features simple ingredients that cost pennies per serving. (Well, quinoa can be kinda pricey, but feel free to sub in another grain of your choice if quinoa is pushing the budget…) Those simple ingredients, however, are anything but plain here. I’ve been enjoying this hearty and fancy lunch all week!

Note: the amounts given below are for just an individual salad (or 2). I definitely recommend making large batches of all ingredients in the beginning of the week.

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Ingredients

For 2 servings (or a very hungry 1)

  • 3-4 cups kale, chopped
  • 2/3 cup cooked chickpeas (see directions above)
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa (I used red quinoa) (see directions above)
  • 1 cup butternut squash, cooked and chopped into bite-size pieces (see directions above)
  • 1 tbs chopped red onion
  • 2 tbs dried cranberries
  • 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • optional add-ins: chopped toasted almonds (1/4 cup), caramelized fennel (about 1/2 bulb), dried apricots instead of cranberries, orange zest (about 1 tsp), pinch of cumin, pinch of cinnamon

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Directions

Add all ingredients except salt, pepper, vinegar and oil into a mixing bowl or a tupperware container (if taking it to go). In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar and oil. Drizzle over the salad. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

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I’ve been working on cheap, convenient, healthy lunch ideas for a while. Do any of you have great go-to sack lunch ideas? I find legume-centric ones work great. I hope you enjoy this as much as we have!

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6 responses

    • Thanks, I’m glad you like it! I really love the taste and texture of kale, but if you don’t like it, try subbing a different leafy green! Spinach, a little arugula, or even romaine could be good. Dino kale (aka lacinato kale or tuscan kale) is a lot more mild than green curly kale. You could always just use a tiny bit of kale (instead of the amounts I listed) til you get used to the taste. 🙂 Good luck!

  1. Looks great–love the almonds, chickpeas and quinoa combo with squash, but I’m going to wait until I see a great bunch of lacinato or baby Red Russian before I try it. Regular kal, is just too dominating a flavor and too chewy for me. Ken

    • Thanks Ken! Yeah, I’ve heard a lot of people say that about kale. I avoid green like collard or chard for the same reason, but for some reason I really love kale! You could try steaming it first, or just using a lot less than I listed above. Spinach might be a good sub too. Good luck! 🙂

  2. Pingback: Winter Fruit ‘n’ Grains Parfait with Spiced Cider Maple Syrup | Becca's Green Kitchen

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