5 quick lunch ideas

Five quick lunch ideas

by Tom Wildman 15 April 2016

As much as we love spending time creating a lunchtime feast, sometimes there simply isn’t time. Not to worry – there are plenty of inspiring recipes that can be made in just a few minutes. From Chorizo and Gruyère quesadillas to Thai chicken soup, delicious lunches don’t have to be time consuming.

A Cordon Bleu graduate from Tante Marie Culinary Academy, Tom shares his food passions both in the kitchen and by writing about his favourite dishes.

A Cordon Bleu graduate from Tante Marie Culinary Academy, Tom shares his food passions both in the kitchen and by writing about his favourite dishes.

The art of sandwich making

The humble sandwich has faced stiff competition in recent years. For so long it reigned the undisputed king of cold fast food, but it now shares its hard-earned shelf space with wraps, sushi, noodle bowls and other young pretenders. However, there will always be a place in our hearts for a well-made sandwich. After all, they're incredibly versatile, easy to eat on the go and lightning quick to assemble.

There’s a genuine art to making a perfect sandwich. Helen Graves’ irresistible Egg sandwich demonstrates how to reach bread and egg perfection by keeping things simple, while Steven Smith transforms leftover turkey in fifteen minutes with his hearty Turkey sandwich with cream cheese, pecans and mizuna.

Pasta packs a punch

When it comes to lunchtime hunger pangs, few foods hit the spot quite like a big bowl of pasta. It’s high in carbohydrates – the body's primary source of fuel – and is a quick and easy way to load up on energy for the afternoon. Armed with just a few basic ingredients you can create a mouthwatering pasta meal in minutes. For sheer simplicity and speed, Spaghetti aglio e olio (spaghetti with garlic and oil) is hard to beat. In the time it takes the boil the pasta, you can have this Italian classic ready to serve, or try throwing in a handful of prawns and some lemon zest for Francesco Mazzei’s delicious variation.

Fish in a flash

A healthy diet should contain at least two portions of fish each week. Oily fish such as salmon, trout, sardines and mackerel are particularly good for you and incredibly quick to cook. Read our handy guide for pan-frying mackerel fillets, which can then be added to all kinds of delicious lunch dishes. Dominic Chapman serves crispy skinned mackerel with a simple beetroot salad and horseradish cream, or have a go at making your own Balik ekmek – a colourful Turkish sandwich made with pan-fried mackerel and salad dressed with pomegranate molasses.

Speedy soups

Soup is the ultimate one-pot solution for leftover vegetables, meats and any other ingredients languishing in your fridge. Recipes are easy to scale up into large batches, which will leave you with plenty of leftovers for the next time you want a quick lunch. Andy Waters’ fragrant Thai chicken soup takes just thirty minutes to make and is packed with aromatic herbs and spices to help jumpstart your afternoon, or for something a bit different why not try Filippo Trapella’s authentic recipe for Zuppa imperiale – a rich beef broth soup with little cubes of baked semolina and Parmesan. For a gloriously rustic one-pot dish, take a look at Andrew MacKenzie’s Potato soup, which is served with a dollop of cream for a little extra indulgence.

Wrap it up

While tortillas are a form of sandwich, they are so versatile that they deserve their own special mention. The incredibly tilted Sandwich Council of America also classes quesadillas as not a sandwich, so that's good enough for us! An unopened pack of tortillas has a longer shelf life than bread, so they’re useful to have in reserve. A simple cheese quesadilla is always a great snack, but it’s easy to add other ingredients – for example, Nisha Thomas adds chorizo, spinach and Gruyère to hers. For a healthy alternative, Mark Dodson’s simple vegetarian wrap has a delicious ratatouille filling, or if you can spare a little more time David and Charlotte Bailey’s Vegan burrito is guaranteed to fill you up.