Cassie’s decidedly decadent ‘Ladies Lunchbox’. Wooden Bento – Country Road. Wasara Paper plate and wooden cutlery – Mr Kitly. Surface – Porcelain tile from Ital Ceramics. Photo – Eve Wilson, styling – Lucy Feagins, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull.
I recently went to a Tamsin’s Table Sunday lunch (the best), and she fondly remembered that the best days at school were the days when you knew you had something excellent packed for lunch. How true! However, my own first memory of this was not being the child with the good lunch, but being the child with lunch-envy of my friend Courtney, who pulled out a bag of cheese and bacon balls, while I pulled out a cheese and Vegemite sandwich. Oh, the things we crave when we’re young (what goes in cheese and bacon balls anyway? Not cheese or bacon that’s for sure!). Well, not to worry because now I am in charge of my own lunchbox and I don’t want to judge you, or be judged, or have lunch-envy, I just want to share my yum ‘ladies lunch’!
This lunchbox is fresh and dainty. The open sandwich is a classic flavour combo with hot smoked salmon and marinated goats cheese, which adds a nice creaminess without you feeling like you overdid it. The beet and chickpea salad is satisfying and nutrient dense. The lemon slice is zesty and sweet, and is a modern take on my Mum’s more traditional recipe. It’s super easy to make any day of the week, though it never lasts long…
For the open sandwich
Cut a thick slice of your favourite bread, I love using Dench Bakers house grain ‘runt’ loaf. It is so delicious and has the best texture due to he great variety of seeds and grains they bake the loaf with. Slather the bread with marinated goats cheese, and layer on top of it some sliced hot smoked salmon or trout. You can buy ready-to-go pieces of marinated or spiced fish from your local supermarket, one piece would be enough to make three or more of these open sandwiches. Add some dill on top.
Asparagus is an easy one to cook at work, even in the tiniest office kitchen – you can blanch it in seconds using just hot water from a kettle. Snap the woody stems off your asparagus spears and discard. Blanch the spears by putting them in a bowl, and simply pouring a little hot water (not quite boiling) over them, and leaving for a couple of minutes. (2 mins max, you want to retain a little crunch). Alternatively, it’s also possible to steam your asparagus in a microwave in a sealed container for 2 mins. Once cooked, allow to cool briefly and place on top of your sandwich. Season with salt and pepper and a little olive oil if you wish.
Delicious ingredients for Cassie’s salmon open sandwich. Wooden Tray from Muji. Surface – Porcelain tile from Ital Ceramics. Photo – Eve Wilson, styling – Lucy Feagins, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull.
For the beet salad – Makes 2 servings
1 bunch of baby beetroot (approx 6 – 8 beetroot heads)
Activated walnuts (roughly chopped)
1 can chickpeas
1/2 blood orange for dressing
2 tablespoons olive oil
A few fresh sprigs of thyme
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Cut the baby beets into quarters and put in a roasting dish with olive oil, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper. Roast for about an hour. Once roasted, let the beets cool, and transfer to serving plate or tupperware ready for tomorrow’s lunch! Add your can of rinsed organic chickpeas, activated walnuts, and watercress. Make dressing with the juice of 1/2 blood orange, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper, and drizzle over the beets, chickpeas and watercress just before serving.
Beet salad ingredients. Kakudo chopping board – Mr Kitly. Surface – Porcelain tile from Ital Ceramics. Photo – Eve Wilson, styling – Lucy Feagins, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull.
For the Gluten free lemon slice – enough to last all week!
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon on vanilla extract
Juice of 1 lemon
For the icing (optional)
1 cup icing sugar
Knob of butter
4 tablespoons of desiccated coconut
This recipe is based on my mum’s recipe, which she would often serve as a lunchbox treat for me when I was little! I have modified it slightly for this ‘ladies lunchbox’, with the addition of pitted dates.
Soak the pitted dates in warm water for a few minutes to soften, then add to the food processor and whizz them up into a sticky paste. Add the cashews and coconut and mix until it forms a ‘dough’ rather than a paste. I like it with some chunks of cashews still in there, but you want it to bind. Add the lemon juice and vanilla and pulse again until it’s mixed through. Line a rectangular baking tray with paper and pour in the mix. I like it when the base is about 2-3cm tall. You can flatten it out with the back of a spoon.
For the icing, make up the icing sugar mixture and pour over the slice – sprinkle generously with the desiccated coconut and refrigerate for 30 minutes before you tuck in!
For the trail mix
1 cup pepitas (I like the Australian or activated ones because of their dark colour)
1 cup organic raw cashews
1 cup sliced organic apricots
1/2 cup amaranth (full of protein)
1 cup raw organic almonds (chopped roughly)
1 cup shredded coconut (to remind you of summer)
There’s nothing better than making a big batch of trail mix. I make this at the start of the week and it lasts all week. It’s best served as a 3pm pick up during your work day, for an extra hit of energy!