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Arugula Salad with Roasted Zucchini, Potatoes, Goat Cheese & Mustard Croutons

December 4, 2010

For a long time, I purchased my lunch everyday. Lunchtime at work meant darting out of my office to grab a $10 (or even—gasp—$12 or $15) salad or sandwich, scurrying back to my office, and eating it at my desk while working. I never stopped to think about how much I was spending on lunch. But at some point during this recession, Patrick and I sat down to think about ways to budget and save money. Between the two of us, we were spending about $100 a week on lunch. Yikes. Nixing take-out lunch everyday was an obvious way to save.

I set myself to task: come up with healthy, delectable lunches to pack and bring to work. In the process, I found that, with a minimal amount of extra effort during the week, I could make some pretty fantastic lunches for a pretty low price. And by fantastic I mean better than the lunches I was spending $10, $12, or even $15 on. Oh, and by pretty low price I mean with only a negligible increase in my weekly grocery bill. Victory is mine.

This is one of those pretty fantastic lunches. It’s fresh but filling. Hearty but healthy. Roast all the vegetables on Sunday night (and double the recipe), and you’ll have four entrée-sized salads ready for the week. Needless to say, this has become a staple around here.

Work (unfortunately) hasn’t changed. I still eat it at my desk most days. Working, working, working. But at least I’m saving about $100 per week. And eating a better salad.

ARUGULA SALAD WITH ROASTED ZUCCHINI,
POTATOES, GOAT CHEESE & MUSTARD CROUTONS

I like to double the recipei.e., roast twice the amount of vegetables and croutons on a Sunday afternoon, so that I have four lunches ready to go for the week.

Serves two as an entrée-sized lunch

For the salad

Olive oil
2 small zucchini (I like to use one green and one yellow, simply because the colors are pretty)
1 medium yellow potato (a red potato also works well here)
Arugula
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
Fresh thyme (optional)
Fine grain sea salt & freshly ground pepper

For the whole-grain mustard croutons

3-4 slices of a crusty loaf of bread (preferably day old), cubed
2 heaping tablespoons whole -grain mustard
4 tablespoons olive oil
Fine grain sea salt & freshly ground pepper

For the vinaigrette

1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon good olive oil
Fresh thyme (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Meanwhile, place the pieces of bread in a large bowl. Drizzle with 4 tablespoons of olive oil, and mix together with 2 tablespoons of whole-grain mustard, a couple pinches of salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Spread the croutons on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes—tossing occasionally with a spatula—until crispy and golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

While the croutons are toasting, prepare the vegetables. Trim the ends off the zucchini, cutting each lengthwise and then cross-wise into half-moons. Cut the potato into 1/4 inch pieces (see photo). Place the potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet, and toss with a light drizzle of olive oil, a couple pinches of salt, a few grinds of pepper, and the leaves from 2-3 springs fresh thyme. Roast for approximately 15-20 minutes, tossing occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through. Place the zucchini on another rimmed baking sheet, and toss with a light drizzle of olive oil, a couple pinches of salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Roast for approximately 10 minutes, until soft and starting to turn golden at the edges. Remove both the zucchini and potatoes from the oven, and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. Add the mustard, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and leaves from 1-2 sprigs fresh thyme to large jar (see photo), and give it a good shake. This will emulsify the vinaigrette. I like to make a big jar of vinaigrette (double or triple the above recipe—or just eyeball it like I do) early in the week, so that I have a delicious, homemade vinaigrette stored in the fridge all week long.

Assemble the salad. Place several big handfuls of arugula in a large bowl (the amount really just depends on how hungry you are), along with the vinaigrette, crumbled goat cheese, 2/3 of the croutons, and roasted potatoes and zucchini. Toss the salad well, along with a few extra grinds of pepper. Divide the salad among two bowls, and top with the remaining croutons.

Want to save on the number of dishes you wash? Put the zucchini on a piece of parchment paper, on one end of the baking sheet, and the potatoes on another piece of parchment paper, at the other end of the same baking sheet. When the zucchini’s done, simply lift the parchment paper with the zucchini off the baking tray, and set on the counter to cool. Then pop the tray back in the oven to finish roasting the potatoes for another 5 minutes or so. You’ll only use one baking sheet, and the parchment paper will protect the tray, making cleaning a breeze.

Bringing it to work? When assembling the salad, place the zucchini and potatoes on the bottom of the to-go container (so that they don’t weigh down and wilt the greens), then top with the arugula, goat cheese, and some freshly ground pepper. Divide the vinaigrette into two small containers. I like to use old spice or mustard jars—simply wash them out instead of recycling them, and (voila!) handy to-go vinaigrette containers. Store the croutons in a piece of aluminum foil (don’t make a super-tight seal; a little air in here helps keep the croutons crunchy). When you’re ready to eat, add the croutons, pour the vinaigrette over the salad, put the lid back on, and give the whole thing a big shake. The result: a perfectly tossed salad. Yum.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. expertrns permalink
    December 4, 2010 7:36 pm

    Hey Kristen, we told Chow Hound GTA about this recipe and they are going to post it on Dec 4 2010 on http://twitter.com/chowhoundgta

    Now do me a fav, and LIKE us on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/expertrns

    Thanks

  2. December 5, 2010 11:32 am

    Thanks! Hope you enjoy the recipe!

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