Cold Peanut Noodles
Start with about 2 cups of cooked spaghetti (leftover un-sauced spaghetti works best, but you can use any kind of pasta). In a separate bowl, make the sauce by whisking together 3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter, 2 tablespoons each of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar, and 2 teaspoons toasted sesame or peanut oil. Then add 2 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoons orange juice to the mix, and stir in the pasta, along with 1 cup cooked broccoli florets, 1/2 cup cucumber slices cut into half-rounds, 1/2 cup julienned snow peas, and 1/4 bell pepper sliced into matchsticks (or any combination of vegetables, but be sure to add something raw for crunch). Add freshly ground black pepper to taste. Top with shredded cooked chicken (6 to 8 ounces, grilled or roasted). Refrigerate, or store in a cooler bag with an ice pack, until ready to serve. Makes 2 servings.
One of the few sandwiches that improve the longer they sit. Slice open 2 ciabatta rolls (or 1/2 baguette; make sure to use bread with a crusty exterior and chewy texture so it can absorb the dressing without falling apart). Scoop out bread from top half of rolls, and set rolls aside. Remove and reserve green fronds from 1/2 small fennel bulb and then thinly slice it (1 sliced rib celery may be substituted). Cut 1/2 red bell pepper (or jarred roasted pepper) into thin rings, slice 1 hard-boiled egg, and open one 6-ounce can of tuna (solid white, packed in water). Start layering the bottom halves of rolls in this order: fennel, pepper, egg, and tuna. Sprinkle each with 3 to 4 pitted black olives (preferably oil-cured), 1/2 teaspoon drained nonpareil capers, and fennel fronds. On top halves, place thinly sliced ripe plum tomatoes. To make dressing, mix together 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional), and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Drizzle mixture over both halves of each sandwich. Put sandwiches together, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and keep cool until ready to eat. Makes 2 servings.
Brown Rice Salad with Salmon
In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup cooked brown rice, 1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame (thawed), 1/4 cup grated carrot, and 2 to 4 thinly sliced scallions (about 1/3 cup). Add 1/2 cup (or more) cooked vegetables: Use whatever you have on hand, such as roasted squash, green beans, snap peas, green peas, red peppers, or broccoli. Season to taste with rice wine vinegar (about 1 teaspoon), soy sauce (about 2 teaspoons), vegetable or sesame oil (about 1 teaspoon), salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Divide mixture between 2 containers and top each with 3 to 4 ounces cooked salmon broken into smaller pieces. Keep cool until ready to eat. Makes 2 servings.
Quesadilla de la Oficina
Place two 10-inch flour tortillas (preferably whole grain) on a work surface. Sprinkle all over with 2 to 3 ounces grated cheese, such as Gruyère, Fontina, or Cheddar. On one half of each tortilla, evenly sprinkle 3 ounces leftover cooked meat (steak, pork tenderloin, or chicken) cut into thin strips. Divide 1 cup roasted or cooked vegetables, such as winter squash, onions, mushrooms, peppers, and carrots (slice vegetables if they are in large pieces), and spread evenly over meat. If desired, add pickled jalapeños. Fold tortillas over to make 2 half-moon-shaped quesadillas. Wrap tightly in foil to hold together. When ready to eat, remove from foil, place on a plate, and heat in microwave oven until cheese melts (about 1 to 2 minutes), turning once. Don't overdo the microwave time or the tortilla will toughen. If a toaster oven is available, use it instead, and heat quesadillas until golden brown and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. If desired, serve with salsa of your choice on the side, and a green salad. Makes 2 servings.
Combine 1 cup cooked green beans, 1/2 cup rinsed canned white (cannellini) beans, 1/4 cup jarred roasted peppers (cut into strips), 4 to 6 ounces bocconcini or fresh mozzarella (diced), and 3/4 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons good store-bought pesto, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss well. Top with 2 cups baby arugula. Keep cool. When ready to eat, mix greens with other ingredients. Makes 2 servings.
— Created by Susan Spungen