Back to School Lunch for a Grown-Up

Even those of us who don't head back to school soon can feel the draw of blank notebooks, freshly-sharpened pencils, and the possibilities of a fresh start in September. We will finally read the works of Dickens! We will wear on-trend black cherry lipstick! And whether in a brown paper sack or chic insulated tote, we will bring lunch to work, save thousands of dollars and feel like bastions of health in the process! I get as excited about this time of year as I do about the real new year, can you tell?

This time at Food Network's Communal Table, we're bringing back-to-school lunches. I like a big lunchtime salad made with bright, filling ingredients to keep me charged through the afternoon, but I don't like soggy, sad desk salads. This quinoa salad is perfect for taking to work: because only the quinoa is dressed in olive oil and lemon juice, the lettuce won't get wilty as it hangs out in the office fridge. The protein-packed grain has earthy staying power, red onion adds a piquant snap, and feta cheese and avocado keeps this vegetarian lunch feeling luscious.

Drizzle avocado slices with additional lemon juice to prevent browning. It also wouldn't hurt to nestle an extra lemon wedge in your tupperware to brighten things up a bit more at your desk, as needed. Keep the lid on your container and give it a good shake to get all the ingredients mixed around before digging in.

Greek Quinoa Salad
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
Serves 4

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 cup water
2 ripe tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped

1/2 cup shredded basil

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion (1 small)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

Lettuces (mixed greens, chopped romaine, baby spinach)

2 ripe avocados, halved, seeded, peeled, and sliced

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

In a 1-1/2-quart saucepan combine quinoa and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, covered, about 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Let cool.

Transfer quinoa to a medium bowl. Add tomato, basil, and onion, and stir to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, oil, and salt. Add to quinoa mixture, and toss to coat.

Divide lettuce among 4 tupperware containers. Arrange avocado slices on lettuce, and spoon quinoa mixture over top. Sprinkle with feta. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sushi Rolls
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