Whether you run a bed and breakfast, a café, or simply offer picnic lunches for hire, it can be tiring to come up with ideas for a midday meal. As the weather grows warmer, it’s less appealing to spend time in the kitchen and you may be wondering what you can do with some simple ingredients and a minimal amount of time with the cooker.
We have plenty of wonderful ways to take simple ingredients and a short amount of time and turn them into something delicious anyone would be thrilled to enjoy.
Sandwiches: Beyond the Ordinary
Sandwiches are a rather staple food, but they can be a bit dull. After all, everyone makes a decent sandwich, so what can you do to make yours stand out? The trick is to start with fresh, quality ingredients and combine them in new ways to create amazing flavours. For example:
Flatbreads are perfect for folding around a filling and the novelty of this simply makes them more appealing. Add a ravishing filling such as chopped cucumbers with a little yoghurt and garlic with dill and you have a meal that is light, yet filling. If your clients enjoy heartier fare, add roast beef with roasted veg as the filling or make up a quick chicken salad or deviled ham. You’re bound to have them asking for seconds.
Add Grilled Veggies
Tired of the same old chicken or ham sandwich? Why not add a slather of rich cream cheese and then top with sliced and grilled vegetables? All you need to do is cut the veggies thinly (zucchini, aubergine, and peppers are all lovely), rub with olive oil and sprinkle with herbs before cooking on the grill or a grill pan. Once they’re soft, with char lines, add them to the sandwich for a tasty and unique meal.
Layer the Flavours
Too many flavours may not be ideal, but there are plenty that go well together. Adding in a little extra zing can make all the difference when serving a sandwich. Try using different spreads, a sprinkle of herbs, or a crumble of cheese for a whole new flavour profile. Here are a few examples:
- Cucumber, feta, and dill
- Avocado, bacon, egg, and mozzarella cheese with tomato
- Eggplant, basil, and garlic
- Cilantro, chicken, mint, and ginger
- Tomatoes, arugula, mint, and mozzarella
- Chorizo, eggs, and avocado with lime
- Cilantro, ginger, and daikon radish with grilled tofu
Get creative when blending your flavours and you’ll be surprised at what can emerge.
A throwback to a once time-honoured tradition is the sandwich cake. This requires using thick slabs of bread that are spread with fillings of various types and stacked. Then the outside is covered in herbed cream cheese and chilled. The cake can be sliced into thick, delicious slices that feature everything from cream cheese and cucumber to chicken salad in its layers.
When in doubt, go with a charcuterie board! It’s the perfect classy meal that requires very little preparation. All you need is a large wooden board and some ingredients. It can be as simple as cut-up vegetables and dips with some cheese, or you can add crackers, toast, and cured meats to the mix. Some dried fruit and nuts make the board complete and nutritional, without requiring a lot of your time.
Variety is the key here. Make sure people have a wide range of choices, with several types of cheese and a few meat options, as well as plenty of choices for making their own combinations with crackers or bread. You’ll find that people really do love this idea and it is so simple to make with whatever you have on hand. However, if you plan to offer this as a menu item, you’ll need the ability to reproduce it regularly and will have to focus on stocking up on the right ingredients.
Refreshing Summer Soups
Summer soups are often chilled, to make them more refreshing. While you can have fruit soups, these often feel more like a dessert. Instead, focus on using fresh ingredients to create a delicious gazpacho or a light soup from tomatoes or even avocado.
When creating a light, chilled soup, it’s a good idea to make it more appetising with a swirl of cream or plain yoghurt and a sprinkle of chopped herbs. Presentation really helps make a simple soup stand out and the flavour is immediately enhanced.
Some ideas for chilled soups include:
- Basil and tomato
- Cucumber and mint
- Avocado and cilantro
- Greek yoghurt, garlic, and herbs
- Watermelon, garlic, and jalapeños
- Fresh peas and mint
- Beets and yoghurt
- Watercress and yoghurt
- Carrots, ginger, and cream
- Zucchini and basil
There are plenty of cold soups that require very little work to prepare. You can simply keep them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve. This is the perfect option for a cold day.
Salads are ideal for hot weather and if you’re struggling to come up with a good idea for lunch your clients will enjoy that doesn’t require much work, salads are ideal. You can easily turn a simple salad into a full meal with the addition of a few things. First, you’ll need a base, which is usually lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula, or another green. From there, you can add other flavours with thin pieces of other vegetables, including carrots, capsicum, cucumber, tomatoes, etc.
The next step is to include a protein to give the salad a little more oomph. Chopped chicken, tuna or salmon works well, as do hard-boiled eggs, beans, or even tofu. You can also give the salad a little zing with some cheese and herbs that will help pick up the flavour. Finally, top the salad off with some extras, like bacon bits, seeds or nuts, and a squeeze of lemon or a bit of salad dressing. It can be quite refreshing, yet will fill everyone up nicely.
If you want the ability to make a quick, refreshing lunch at any point, you’ll need to keep a few key ingredients on hand. First, it’s important to have fresh vegetables so you can always make them into anything. Tomatoes, cucumber, and similar vegetables are always useful, whether in a salad or a sandwich.
Next, it’s a good idea to always have cheese in your pantry. Preferably, keep a few different types on hand so you can add a grating to a soup or slice it for a toastie. Cheese can really boost flavour and make a boring meal incredible.
Of course, you should also have a variety of assorted bread types available. Flatbreads and tortillas can easily be turned into wraps and regular bread can be toasted or grilled to create the ideal sandwich for your clients and guests.
Plain yoghurt, as well as cream, can immediately turn a simple soup into something extraordinary, but they’re also great for making your own sauces and dressings. Stir a few chopped herbs and some lime into a cup of yoghurt and you immediately have something to dip your vegetables in or a dressing for a salad. The cream can be added to nearly everything to give it more flavour.
Whether you just don’t like cooking in the heat or you want to give your clients something unique, you’ll have plenty of options now. Just make your own list of flavours you wish to embody and include on your menu and start experimenting.
Do you need to stock your pantry and fridge with the best, fresh ingredients? Contact Freshways today to learn more about what we have to offer in dairy, bakery, and more.