I cannot tell you how many lunches I have made for my kids over the years. About as many as I have watched other kids eat. In the years I have been working in public education I have spent a lot of time in the school cafeteria. It’s not my favorite place to be but I love listening to their conversations, watch them let their guard down and just be kids. It is also very interesting to see the pecking order in which they eat their lunches.
Using their best intentions, parents hope that their kids will actually eat their main item first, eat before talking and not trade their food. In some cases students are there to get down to the business of shoving food in their mouths as fast as they can. They are ravenous by that point in the day afterall. Then there are the few that are so tired of the daily PB&J, Turkey or bologna (shudder) on sliced bread that they are willing to offer almost any prized possession to one of their friends to trade food. I have seen this scenario play out many times.
When it comes to packing my kids lunches there are a few things I keep in mind. Will it stay cold, does it need to stay warm? Can they eat this in the time allotted for lunch? Would I want this for lunch?
This last item is a big one. If I wouldn’t eat it then chances are I am not packing it for my kids. Problem is that I do not want to make separate meals that I serve all week for lunch. I am always looking for something easy to eat, combines many fruits and veggies, has a satisfying amount of carbs/protein, and keeps things interesting. Kill many birds with one stone. Lunch for them~ Lunch for me~ and we all like it!
I wanted to spice up 2 of my easiest go-to lunch box favorites using Lindsay Olives. Pasta is pretty plain until you add a few punches of flavor and color. Using fresh ingredients and 2 of the olive varieties from Lindsay, you can transform a just OK lunch to one that the lunch ladies want the recipe for
These recipes have also been shared on Weekend Potluck over at thecountrycook.net
Warm or cold this is a great lunch box meal or light lunch!
- 1 pound spaghetti OR Bucatini, cooked al dente
- 1 C of reserved pasta water
- 2 small cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 TB olive oil
- 2 lg or 4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced small
- 1 C Lindsay black olives, drained and chopped
- 2 Tb butter
- 1/2 C fresh basil, chopped
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella, I used small grape-sized balls, sliced
- Kosher salt/fresh black pepper
- Cook pasta until al dente, reserving 1 C water.
- Drain and return to pot.
- Toss hot pasta with butter.
- Meanwhile chop tomatoes, olives and garlic and add to a large bowl.
- While pasta is cooling, combine reserved water, olive oil and garlic in a small bowl.
- Toss pasta in with the tomato/olive mixture.
- Toss with the water mixture.
- Season with salt and pepper and red pepper flakes.
- Toss in the basil and cheese at the very end.
- Chill for packing in lunches or serve at room temperature.
This recipe was requested by not one but TWO people from my sons school after they spied his lunchbox feast!
- 1 1/2 C couscous
- 3 TB frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
- 1 TB + 2 tsp Deli Style (or Dijon) mustard
- 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- zest of 1 orange
- 1 TB olive oil
- pinch of kosher salt/fresh black pepper
- 2 C boiling water
- 3/4 C fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 C Lindsay green olives, chopped
- 1 small can of mandarin oranges, undrained
- In a serving bowl add couscous, OJ concentrate, olive oil, mustard, dried thyme, zest, salt and pepper.
- Pour in boiling water and cover with plastic wrap until water is absorbed, about 5-7 minutes.
- Fluff with a fork then toss in parsley, olives and oranges.
- Enjoy at room temperature or chill for later.