Lunchbox Series: Grilled Vegetable Quinoa Salad with Pesto

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Starting this year, I will be doing some features on what I bring to lunch for work everyday (aka the “Lunchbox Series”). Generally I’m a prep fanatic, dedicating a portion of my Sundays to preparing my lunches for the week. Here’s the thing though: despite having gone to culinary school and having a cooking blog, I don’t like spending the majority of my Sundays in the kitchen slaving away making the week’s meals. Here you’ll find recipes that are relatively easy and not too time-consuming.

Personally, I think that meal prepping is the number one thing that will help you achieve any dietary goals you have. It takes a bit of planning and work on a Saturday or Sunday, but it’s worth it for the week. With everything already packed, it’s more convenient than buying lunch! (Not to mention it’s cheaper and you can control your ingredients and portion size)

So here’s to the first recipe of this new series.

Grilled Vegetable Quinoa Salad with Pesto

  • 2 small to medium-sized purple eggplants
  • 2 sweet bell peppers- can be green, yellow, or orange
  • 2 pounds of lean chicken
  • 1 pound of green beans
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • half a small box of sprouts
  • basil avocado pesto (see recipe below)
  • cooked quinoa (2 cups)
  • optional: nut or goat cheese
  • optional: cranberries

Basil Avocado Pesto

  • 1 large bunch of basil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup roasted almonds
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt


 

Place basil in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add in garlic cloves and roasted almonds and process until the almonds are relatively ground. Add in avocado, olive oil, and sea salt. Process until creamy.

GRILL PREP:

Cut eggplant into 1/4 inch-thick slices. Keep peppers whole. Rub both the eggplant slices and peppers with olive oil and sea salt. Grill all pieces/peppers until slightly charred. Set aside to cool.

Grill chicken until fully cooked through, with the center reading at 165 degrees if you want to be exact and have perfectly cooked chicken! My aunt gave me this tip of using a thermometer, and even as an experienced cook, I find it handy. Most importantly, you get PERFECTLY grilled chicken. Nom nom.

OVEN PREP:

I did the green beans in the oven, although I guess you could grill them. Preheat oven to 450. Toss green beans in olive oil, salt, and a bit of parmesan. Although the parmesan isn’t absolutely necessary, it’s delicious. Roast until just a bit wilted and browned, about 15 minutes.

DIVISION PREP:

Add 1/2 cup or 1 cup of quinoa to each serving (based on how much you want). Split the vegetables and chicken evenly among containers. Add a tablespoon or two of sunflower seeds, and top with sprouts and goat cheese (if using). Spoon two 1-teaspoon size scoops of pesto on top. When warming up for lunch, I warmed this all in the microwave, and then stirred/tossed it around so the pesto was evenly distributed.

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