Do you take your own food to work or do you buy something from a shop nearby? Or do you do a bit of both?
I was reading an article at the weekend on how you could really save hundreds, in some cases even more than a thousand pounds if you started bringing your own lunch to the office which inspired me to create today’s recipe.
What makes the perfect packed lunch? If I have to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of sandwiches. Wait – I’ll rephrase that. I love sandwiches with every fibre of my being but I seem to have a preference for either toasted or messy ones (like my beloved Toasted Bagel with Dill Cream Cheese & Avocado) that aren’t really practical for the office.
So, to me, the perfect packed lunch is generally one of two things: leftovers from the night before (thank goodness most places these days have a microwave!) or a large salad. Now, when I say salad, I never just mean salad vegetables like lettuce and a couple of sad looking tomatoes. It’s got to be something filing that won’t leave my stomach rumbling all afternoon. So in go things like pasta, rice or pulses.
Despite being Italian, you might surprised to know that I don’t eat pasta that often. However, when I do, it is something that I really look forward to and this recipe is a keeper.
When I prepped this Greek Pasta Salad, I was wondering whether perhaps it might still be a little too cold to talk salads but after enjoying a large bowlful, I can honestly say that it was a nice change for my tastebuds which have been used to more winter warmer-type dishes recently, like last week’s Broccoli & Potato Soup (also a great recipe if you’re looking for easy lunch ideas).
It’s the kind of food that makes me think of the seaside (not Scarborough!). If I closed my eyes while eating, I could almost teleport myself somewhere hot, enjoying a delicious lunch by the beach, sun shining in the sky, the sound of the waves, cocktail in one hand.
That’s before reality hit and I remembered I’m in cold, rainy Yorkshire, wrapped in a blanket and working on my laptop. But you get the gist, the simple but delicious Mediterranean flavours make this a lunch to get excited about.
This Greek-style pasta salad is extremely easy to make. Start by cook your pasta “al dente” (firm to the bite, not too soft). By the way, if you don’t cook pasta often, please remember that the cooking times you see on the packaging are only a rough guide and, more often than not, pasta needs to cook for longer than what stated in the instructions. The best way to ensure you get it right is simply to taste it (being careful not to burn your tongue!) before draining.
Prepare all the other ingredients in a large bowl and tip in the cooked pasta. Add the extra virgin olive oil and mix well. Ready!
I used Garofalo ruote pasta (which I got from Ocado) and I simply love the texture. That’s one thing I miss about Italy: the wide range of pasta shapes available, even in the smallest shops. For this recipe, any short pasta shape will work so feel free to use up anything you already have in your kitchen.
For salads like this one, I tend to use olives in brine rather than oil. Kalamata olives are very easy to find and they can be substituted for black olives if you prefer.
Because this Greek Pasta Salad only uses a handful of ingredients, the quality of the tomatoes you use will really make a huge difference so, if you can, choose ripe but firm tomatoes and look out for a deep red colour as these tend to taste sweeter.
The tomatoes I used here were part of my weekly Riverford order and, hand on heart, they’re some of the nicest tomatoes I’ve had in a long time. I’m all for buying organic whenever possible: no nasties, amazing flavour and, in the case of Riverford, a huge reduction in our plastic waste since most fruit and vegetables come in a reusable cardboard box and not wrapped in plastic.
Finally, if you are wondering how come cucumbers don’t feature in this recipe then well spotted! The reason is very simple: they are my food nemesis and I just cannot stomach the stuff. I know, I have tried, but just NO NO NO. But, back to today’s recipe, I am sure that they’d work well as they are a staple of Greek salads.
Sweet tomatoes, tangy olives, salty and crumbly cheese… the simple but delicious Mediterranean flavours make this Greek-style Pasta Salad a lunch to get excited about.
- Cook the pasta according to package instruction. Rinse under cold water and drain well.
- While the pasta is cooking, mix the tomatoes, olives, cheese, red onion, oregano and parsley in a large bowl. Add the cooked pasta, the olive oil and mix well.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate in airtight containers until ready to serve.
Don’t forget to save this recipe to your favourite Pinterest board for later!
What’s your all-time favourite packed lunch?