on the packed lunch and a recipe for chickpea salad

I have a confession. When I’m at work, I often buy my lunch. I rarely bring a packed lunch.

Like, maybe once a month.

I’m not proud of this. A packed lunch is better for so many reasons. First and foremost, I can save a decent amount of money if I prepare my lunch at home and bring it with me to work. One day I paid close to $6 for a pile of tuna on top of some lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers. A huge rip off.  I was almost embarrassed.

Another huge advantage of bringing my lunch to work is that I know exactly what is going into my food. I use good quality ingredients at home, so I won’t have to worry about whether that tuna has been sitting out a while, or how clean those transparent slices of tomato are.

So, what’s my excuse? The usual. I blame a lack of time. Between getting myself dressed and helping my husband get the kids dressed and out the door in the mornings, I just don’t have any extra minutes to spare. I could make my lunch the night before, but again, I don’t make time to do so. I’d rather read my Kindle. Or sleep.

I’m lazy. It comes down to that.

I’m going to make an effort to change, though. I’m tired of giving all of my money to the hospital cafeteria and the local Subway. I’d like to expand my limited packed-lunch repertoire. I’m going to start with this recipe from Molly Wizenberg that was in the April 2011 issue of Bon Appétit. I tweaked it a tad by adding some chopped preserved lemon, and it was a simple, yet flavor-packed, no-cook lunch. The beauty of it as a packed lunch is that it keeps well and can be eaten cold or at room temperature.

But, will you help me out? I’d love to hear other suggestions on the wonderful, healthy lunches that you all bring to work. Because I know you do. You’re better at this kind of thing than I am.


Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, and Fresh Herbs

This recipe is from Molly Wizenberg and was in the April 2011 issue of Bon Appétit. I barely tweaked it by adding some preserved lemon to bump up the flavor profile. Makes 2 servings.


1 15 to 16 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt
Freshly-ground black pepper


Combine the chickpeas, basil, parsley, lemon juice, preserved lemon, olive oil, and minced garlic in a medium bowl. Add grated Parmesan cheese and toss gently to combine all ingredients. Season to taste with Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

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19 Responses to “couscous salad with pine nuts and dried fruits”

  1. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — April 5, 2011 @ 6:23 pm

    Good for you MJ – so proud of you! And this salad looks a lot like the Dorie recipe from last week (ours was with quinoa) but with chick peas. LOVE this. Lived on some version of this during my years in Paris….

  2. Errin — April 5, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

    I am often tempted to start some sort of running program. Although I never do becuase I hate running…but I have never really tried it. I think that it just always seems like such a daunting task to start to run. But, it is inspiring to know that another non-runner is out there running and liking it. Congrats on the accomplishment!

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — April 6th, 2011 @ 8:27 am

      Erin – you can totally do it. I have always hated running…but the feeling afterward makes it so worthwhile.

  3. Maris (In Good Taste) — April 5, 2011 @ 6:54 pm

    Congrats on the 5K! That is a big accomplishment.Your salad looks quite delicious and I have bookmarked it!

  4. Liz the Chef — April 5, 2011 @ 8:49 pm

    Love couscous, even healthier with the whole wheat style. Hey, I walked 60 miles 3 times for Komen – think about the Komen3Day! As a runner, you will be ahead of the game as you train. Proud of you – XO Liz

  5. Paula - bell'alimento — April 5, 2011 @ 9:25 pm

    You’re such an inspiration MJ!

  6. Tracey — April 6, 2011 @ 8:30 am

    Congratulations on your 5K! I’ve started the couch to 5K program more times than I can tell you, but I’ve never finished it. I just get so bored 🙂

    The salad looks great, I love couscous!

  7. alison @ Ingredients, Inc. — April 6, 2011 @ 9:57 am

    Congrats girl! This looks delish!

  8. Aggie — April 6, 2011 @ 1:09 pm

    oh my gosh, isn’t Boma the best? so many dishes I tried there that I wish I could recreate.

    Congrats on your first 5k!! You did it!

    I am such a lover of couscous, can’t beat how fast it cooks up and how versatile it is. This is such a great dish to have in the fridge to eat as leftovers through the week!

  9. jaclyn — April 6, 2011 @ 8:33 pm

    this couscous salad looks amazing! i’m obsessed with couscous, and i’m always looking for delicious, healthy things to make. yum!

    i’m on week three of couch to 5k! congrats on finishing your first 5k, i’m looking forward to continuing the program and running a 5k by the end of may! my shins always hurt after i run, and i just thought it was me! glad to know it’s somewhat normal!

    also, i’m really excited to meet you at foodblogforum! yay food blogging!

  10. Annika — April 7, 2011 @ 9:16 am

    Congratulations! This is such an accomplishment and you can be proud of yourself.

    Your salad looks great. I am sure it would be great with braised meat like lamp.

  11. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — April 7, 2011 @ 4:53 pm

    Congrats on your first 5K! I started running last July, but haven’t officially run in a 5K or another race yet (though I did survive a running tour of Boston in October w/ my hubby). You’ve inspired me to look for a race to add to my schedule this summer!

    Love that couscous salad, too… Looks amazing!

  12. Elizabeth — April 12, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

    That looks and sounds so incredibly yummy!

  13. MJ,

    This sounds amazing!! Great job on the 5k!! I remember how great I felt after my first…no feeling like it. Then it inspired my hubby to start the couch to 5k. This was back in 2004, and we are both in the process of being re-inspired!!

    Just re-read this via stumble…so giving it my thumbs up! We LOVE disney!!!

    My new site is up and running…I love wordpress!!!

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — May 5th, 2011 @ 7:09 am

      Denise – Congrats on making the WordPress switch! I love it and find it very flexible. And thanks for the stumble! 🙂

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