Found: 3 Make-Ahead Vegan Lunches That Take Less Than 30 Minutes To Prep

Photo by Ina Peters

There’s nothing worse than a boring desk lunch, and it can be hard to find new inspiration for meals that are easy to make, but gastronomically inventive enough to keep your palate stimulated.  Jackie Sobon knows how you feel.  The noted vegan author behind the popular blog Vegan Yack Attack created her new book, Vegan Yack Attack On The Go!, to fill the niche of recipes with bold flavors that come together in 30 minutes or less.  Each of these salads makes four servings that you can pack into jars (we recommend simple glass Mason jars—a wide mouth makes it even easier to get the salad out) for almost an entire workweek’s worth of lunches—all made in less time than it takes to watch your favorite TV show.  

Grill and Chill Salad

Grill and chill kind of sounds like the perfect descriptor of summer, no? In this salad, you’ll be using your grill to impart some smoky flavor onto some of my favorite veggies, then turn them into a beautiful jar salad, complete with protein from kidney beans and crisp texture from mixed greens.

Serves 4

Ingredients, Salad

  • 1 pound (455 g) summer squash, cut into ½-inch (12-mm) thick slices
  • 6 ounces (170 g) radishes, halved
  • 2 bell peppers, de-stemmed and de-seeded
  • 2 ears corn, shucked
  • 4 ounces (115 g) red pearl onions, peeled
  • 2 cans (30 ounces, or 850 g) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 cups (265 g) packaged mixed greens

Ingredients, Dressing

  • 5 tablespoons (75 ml) olive oil
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon (5 g) nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Method

  1. Heat your grill to roughly 375ºF (190ºC, or gas mark 5).
  2. Grill the radishes, bell peppers, corn ears, and red pearl onions for 5 to 7 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until the vegetables are tender and grill marks are visible.
  3. Remove the vegetables from grill and spread them out onto a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 45 minutes, or until chilled. Move on to the dressing while chilling.
  4. TO MAKE THE DRESSING: In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, dried basil, and salt vigorously until combined and creamy.
  5. TO ASSEMBLE: Divide the dressing between four 24-ounce (710-ml) jars, then top with kidney beans.
  6. Cut the corn from the cob, and chop the large pepper pieces. Place them in a mixing bowl with the squash, radishes, and pearl onions. Toss together until combined. Top the kidney beans with grilled vegetable mixture, and lastly, top with mixed greens.
  7. Close each jar with a tight-fitting lid. When ready to serve, gently shake the jar to coat everything with dressing, then empty into a bowl. Serve chilled.Salad jars will last up to 1 week in the refrigerator.
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Sesame Soba Salad

Soba noodles were probably my first experience with eating pasta cold—outside of macaroni salad! Here we have a much more nutritious option with crunchy vegetables, protein-rich edamame, and tons of flavor in the peanut butter–sesame dressing. Bring this jar salad to work and check out how fast your coworkers will be drooling.

Ingredients, Salad

  • 4½ ounces (270 g) uncooked soba noodles, gluten-free if necessary
  • 2 cups (325 g) shelled edamame, steamed
  • 1 cup (65 g) grated carrots
  • 1½ cups (105 g) shredded red cabbage
  • 1½ cups (105 g) shredded white cabbage
  • 2 cups (220 g) snap peas
  • ¼ cup (20 g) chopped scallions
  • ¼ cups (10 g) minced cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

Ingredients, Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons (45 g) creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons (45 g) plain nondairy yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1½ tablespoons (25 g) sriracha or similar garlic chili hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) tamari

Method

  1. Cook the soba noodles according to instructions until al dente. Rinse with very cold water, and set aside.
  2. While the noodles are cooking, make the dressing.
  3. TO MAKE THE SESAME DRESSING: In a small bowl, whisk the peanut butter, sesame oil, non-dairy yogurt, rice vinegar, sriracha, and tamari together until combined.
  4. TO ASSEMBLE: Divide the dressing between four 24-ounce (710-ml) jars. Then, divide the edamame, carrots, red cabbage, white cabbage, snap peas, cooked soba noodles, scallions, cilantro, and sesame seeds between the jars, in that order.Close each jar with a tight-fitting lid. When ready to serve, gently shake the jar to coat everything with dressing, then empty into a bowl. Serve chilled. Salad jars will last up to 1 week in the refrigerator.
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Related Class

Antipasto Chop Salad

Chop salads are a classic when it comes to business lunches, but here’s a fun twist on a traditionally meat- and cheese-heavy salad: a vegan antipasto version! Worlds healthier than the traditional version, this salad is packed with flavors reminiscent of the Mediterranean.

Ingredients, Salad

  • 1 can (15 ounces, or 425 g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ pound (225 g) chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup (60 g) chopped black or green olives
  • 1 can (14 ounces, or 400 g) quartered artichoke hearts
  • 8 ounces (225 g) cubed store brought seitan
  • 6 cups (345 g) chopped romaine

Ingredients, Dressing

  • 6 tablespoons (90 ml) olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon Italian herb blend
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon coconut sugar
  • Pinch pepper

Method

  1. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, white vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, Italian herbs, salt, coconut sugar, and pepper together until emulsified and creamy-looking.
  2. Divide the dressing between four 24-ounce (710-ml) jars, then layer the salad ingredients in the jars, in the order listed, finishing with the romaine. Close each jar with a tight-fitting lid. When ready to serve, gently shake the jar to coat every-thing with dressing, then empty into a bowl. Serve chilled. Salad jars will last up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

Based on excerpts from Vegan Yack Attack On The Go! by Jackie Sobon, with the permission of Fairwinds Press. Copyright © 2018.

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