Four brilliant lunches you can throw together in five minutes using five ingredients

Falafel wraps are loved across much of the Middle East – and increasingly around the world.
Falafel wraps are loved across much of the Middle East – and increasingly around the world. Photo: Chris Middleton/Smith Street Books

Sprinting out the front door, busy herding sleeping-eyed children into the car, or just overly fond of the snooze button. They're all valid reasons for skipping your lunch prep, says Blue Mountains food writer Alexander Hart. 

But it's easier to shake up your lunch habits than you think. "You'll be amazed by the money you can save by preparing your own lunches," he says. "Plus, there's the added bonus of knowing exactly what goes into each and every bite."

Alexander Hart's new cookbook.
Alexander Hart's new cookbook. Photo: Chris Middleton/Smith Street Books

All you need is five minutes and five ingredients, plus Hart's new cookbook, The 5-Minute 5-Ingredient Lunchbox.

Falafel wrap

Falafel wraps are loved across much of the Middle East – and increasingly around the world. They make a filling vegetarian lunch. Falafel balls can be bought from the supermarket or from falafel shops, and are usually made from chickpeas or broad (fava) beans – or a mixture of both.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3-4 falafel balls, roughly torn
  • handful of torn cos lettuce
  • ½ tomato, diced
  • some Turkish pickled turnips, chopped

Tahini yoghurt sauce (or use shop-bought)

  • 2 tablespoons Greek yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon tahini
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley leaves
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
Advertisement

METHOD

  1. Top the wrap with all the ingredients.
  2. Roll up and secure the wrap.
Japanese chicken and rice salad with ginger soy dressing
Extract from The 5-Minute, 5-Ingredient Lunchbox by Alexander Hart, published by Smith Street Books
Single use only, do not republish without permission
Photographer: Chris Middleton
Supplied by Smith Street Books

Opt for brown rice if you prefer a nuttier flavour. Photo: Chris Middleton/Smith Street Books

Japanese chicken and rice salad with ginger soy dressing

If you prefer a nuttier flavour – and a little more fibre – in your salad, opt for brown rice here. Micro herbs can be found in most good-quality greengrocers.

INGREDIENTS

  • 150g (1 cup) cooked and cooled rice
  • 100g shredded cooked chicken
  • 50g snow peas, sliced
  • large handful of mixed micro herbs

Ginger soy dressing (or use shop-bought)

  • 1½ tablespoons macadamia oil or other mild-flavoured oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

METHOD

  1. Toss the salad ingredients together with salt and pepper to taste, then tip into your lunchbox.
  2. Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving and toss well.
Couscous, tomato, cucumber and feta salad

Extract from The 5-Minute, 5-Ingredient Lunchbox by Alexander Hart, published by Smith Street Books
Single use only, do not republish without permission
Photographer: Chris Middleton
Supplied by Smith Street Books

Mediterranean flavours. Photo: Chris Middleton/Smith Street Books

Couscous, tomato, cucumber and feta salad

Juicy tomatoes, salty, creamy feta and crisp, crunchy cucumber evoke memories of the Mediterranean in this simple couscous salad. A creamy, tangy dill dressing plays a perfect complement.

INGREDIENTS

  • 150g (1 cup) cooked and cooled couscous
  • 1 short cucumber, sliced
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 40g feta cheese, crumbled

Creamy dill dressing (or use shop-bought)

  • 3 tablespoons Greek yoghurt
  • juice and zest of ½ lemon
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped dill
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic

METHOD

  1. Toss the salad ingredients together with salt and pepper to taste, then tip into your lunchbox.
  2. Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving and toss well.
Tuna salad
Extract from The 5-Minute, 5-Ingredient Lunchbox by Alexander Hart, published by Smith Street Books
Single use only, do not republish without permission
Photographer: Chris Middleton
Supplied by Smith Street Books

Fresh pasta cooks in minutes. Photo: Chris Middleton/Smith Street Books

Chilli tuna and stuffed red capsicum pappardelle

Fortunately there are now many varieties of fresh pasta available in supermarkets, which only take a few minutes to cook through. They are the perfect choice for getting pasta salads organised in five minutes.

INGREDIENTS

  • 100g fresh pappardelle pasta
  • 95g tin tuna in chilli oil, undrained
  • 4 feta-stuffed baby red capsicums, halved (available from delis)
  • handful of parsley leaves

Red onion and caper dressing (or use shop-bought)

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 1½ teaspoons baby capers

METHOD

  1. Cook the pasta in a saucepan of boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes, until cooked, then drain and cool.
  2. Toss with the remaining salad ingredients with salt and pepper to taste, then tip into your lunchbox.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving and toss well.

This is an edited extract from The 5-Minute, 5-Ingredient Lunchbox by Alexander Hart, published by Smith Street Books, RRP $24.99. Buy now