I hate packing a lunch in the morning – it seems there’s never time for it no matter how early I get up. As my mom would say, “you get that honest.” Granted my mom was trying to get ready for work with two kids around, but after a certain age that also meant we could help. I remember many mornings with her tethered to the curling iron and shouting, “Katie can you make me a sandwich for lunch?” It was always the same: raisin bagel, ham, and farmers cheese, wrapped in a paper towel. (Mom, if you’re reading, did you like eating the same thing every day?)
Repetition…I must get that honest too. I don’t eat the same thing every day, but I do eat the same thing for a week. The lunch-making solution I’ve come to is cooking up a colossal amount of something over the weekend and separating it into meal-sized pyrex dishes. Each morning I grab a container as I run out the door.
This Curried Chicken Rice Salad is one of my favorite lunches. It has a little bit of everything…sweet, spice, cilantro, carbs, veggies, and protein. It keeps well (the flavors actually get better as they sit) and is interesting enough to eat for a week. I like it with pita bread or crackers. The recipe below makes a lot, so if you’re not going to a potluck, cooking for a crowd, or wanting to eat it for a week, cut it in half.
Curried Chicken Rice Salad – adapted from Kitchen Sense by Mitchell Davis
This is a tangy curried dish best served cold. I use supermarket rotisserie chicken because it’s quick, affordable, and (let’s be honest) delicious, but cooked chicken breast would work just as well. Once you’ve made the recipe as is, try experimenting with other veggies and proteins. It’s a great way to clean out the fridge and/or use up leftover cooked rice.
2/3 cup cider vinegar
2/3 cup golden raisins
3 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
1 cooked supermarket rotisserie chicken, with the chicken removed and cubed
3-4 cups cooked rice, cooled to room temperature
4 large carrots, grated
4 scallions, chopped
1 to 2 cups of cooked corn (frozen or fresh, not canned)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
salt and pepper
Combine vinegar and raisins in a small bowl and microwave for 2 minutes, then let sit. Mix curry powder and 3 tablespoons water to make a runny paste, set aside. In a cast-iron or frying pan, heat oil over med/high heat, add onion and chicken, and cook until the onions start to soften. Add the garlic and ginger, then cook a few minutes longer, stirring often. Stir in the curry paste and cook until the water has evaporated and you can smell the spices. Turn off the heat, then pour in the raisin/vinegar mixture and use a wooden spoon to stir it in, scraping the spices off the bottom of the pan. Let this mixture cool to room temperature.
While the chicken mixture cools, start chopping and grating! Mix the rice, carrots, scallions, corn, and cilantro in a large bowl. Once the mixture is cool, pour it into the large bowl and stir. Season with salt and pepper.