Packed lunches will never be boring again. From soups, stews and curries, to flatbreads and dips, this Cook special offers quick, affordable and adaptable ideas for delicious and portable meals to take to the office, or to send your kids to school with.
BREADS AND SPREADS
The days of soggy stodge are over - Anya Kassoff's easy-to-make, seed-scattered bread pairs handsomely with a selection of wholesome spreads for the perfect sandwichQuick spelt bread
Based on the yeast-free Indian flatbread, this quick bake uses spelt flour - a nuttier, nutrition-packed alternative to wheat - and either kefir (fermented milk), yoghurt or whey. Keep in an airtight container at room temperature and eat within 2 days.
Makes two 18cm rounds
200g whole spelt flour
25g oat bran (optional)
A handful of rolled oats (optional)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
130ml plain or coconut yoghurt, kefir, or whey from making ricotta cheese (see below)
2 tbsp olive oil
To garnish (optional)
½ tbsp sesame seeds
½ tbsp sunflower seeds
½ tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 In a large bowl, combine the flour, oat bran and oats (if using), salt and baking powder.
2 In a medium bowl, pour the lemon juice over the bicarbonate of soda. Add the yoghurt and olive oil and whisk until well combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture. Briefly mix with a spoon to combine, then knead with your hands into a soft dough.
3 Divide the dough into 2 equal balls. Place each on a piece of clingfilm and slightly flatten it with the palm of your hand. Wrap each piece with the clingfilm and flatten again to form a disc. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4 Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Take the dough out of the refrigerator, one disc at a time. Unwrap and place on a piece of parchment paper big enough to accommodate both breads. Roll each disc 6mm thick. Sprinkle with the seeds, if using, and roll the rolling pin over them a couple of times to lightly press them into the dough. Cut each bread into 8 segments.
5 Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden. Alternatively, you can shape and roll all of the dough into a large rectangle and cut it into 8 to 10 smaller rectangles to make a more convenient sandwich shape.
Homemade ricotta cheese
Makes about 250g
1 litre whole goat's or cow's milk
½ tsp sea salt (optional)
3-4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Pour the milk into a large stainless steel saucepan; add salt if using. Place over a medium to low heat, stirring periodically. Watch closely - it mustn't boil.
2 Right before the milk begins to boil, remove from the heat and add the lemon juice, 1 tbsp at a time. Stir occasionally and watch closely for signs of separation. Very soon you will start seeing the whey, greenish in colour, separating from the ricotta curds. As soon as you see that, stop adding lemon juice. Leave the liquid undisturbed for 5-10 minutes to let the curds form and separate from the whey.
3 Line a large bowl with several layers of cheesecloth, large enough for the ends to drape over the sides of the bowl. Pour the ricotta mixture into the bowl, then draw the corners of the cheesecloth up over the bowl and tie together, or secure the corners with string or a rubber band, creating a sack. Hang the sack over a bowl by suspending it from your kitchen tap or a cupboard handle.
4 For dry ricotta, drain it for 2-4 hours. If you prefer it moist and spreadable, it's ready almost right away, within 15 minutes to 1 hour. It can also be drained further and pressed until it becomes a dense and rich paneer cheese, a popular ingredient in Indian cuisine. Cover tightly and store in the fridge for up to 3 days, if not using it right away.Pumpkin seed pesto
Makes about 300g
160g raw unsalted pumpkin seeds
½ tsp sea salt
3 tbsp olive oil
A handful of packed opal or regular fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp purified water
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ garlic clove, minced
1 Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5.
2 In a medium bowl, combine the seeds with the salt and 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Mix well then spread on a parchment-covered baking tray and toast for 10 minutes, or until the seeds are puffed up and golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
3 In a food processor, grind the toasted pumpkin seeds to the size of small breadcrumbs. Add the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, the basil, water, lemon juice, and garlic and blend to a smooth paste. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days.
165g dried unsulphured apricots
240ml hot purified water
½ tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Soak the apricots in a bowl with the hot water for 2 hours. Drain, reserving 3 tbsp of the soaking liquid.
2 In a food processor, combine the apricots with the reserved liquid, the lemon juice, and vanilla and process until smooth.
Roasted strawberry jam
Makes about 1 jar
1kg strawberries, halved
35g coconut sugar
1 vanilla bean (optional)
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 In a large bowl, combine the strawberries and coconut sugar. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean, if using, add to the strawberries and stir well. Add the vanilla bean and leave to macerate for about 10 minutes while you preheat the oven to 120C/250F/gas mark ½. Mix the lemon juice into the strawberries.
2 Transfer to a parchment-covered baking tray, spreading them evenly. Roast for about 2 hours until caramelised. Scrape all the cooked fruit and the caramelised juices into a bowl. Remove the vanilla bean. Mash with a potato masher for a chunky jam or puree in a food processor for a smoother jam.
2 tbsp of your choice of nut oil
A small pinch of sea salt
1 Grind the pistachios into flour in a food processor, add the nut oil and sea salt and continue to process until creamy, adding more oil if needed. Keep refrigerated.
Anya Kassoff is the author of food blog golubkakitchen.com and The Vibrant Table (Roost Books)
TART IT UP: PUFF-PASTRY PACKED LUNCHES
There's nothing wrong with ready-made pastry, and plenty that's right - Caroline Craig and Sophie Missing offer up a quartet of quick fixes for delicious tart toppings...
Puff pastry tarts make for a deluxe packed lunch. They can also be quick to whip up the night before, or even in the morning, if you keep some ready-made puff pastry in the fridge, along with some simple, but delicious, toppings.To make four puff-pastry tarts:
1 roll of ready-made puff pastry
1 Take the pastry out of the fridge. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6.
2 After around 10 minutes, roll out the pastry and cut out a section to fit the size of your baking tin. Line the tin with baking parchment. Using your fingers, press the pastry into the tin, with some overhanging the sides.
3 Fold or roll the sides in to create a crust, and prick the base a number of times with a fork.
4 Brush the edges with milk or some whisked egg white to give it a nice sheen.
Four tart toppings:
Olive, tomato, goats cheese
Spread the base with olive tapenade, and top with plenty of halved cherry tomatoes, cut side up. Sprinkle some salt, black pepper, olive oil, and a pinch of cinnamon on the tomatoes. Top with goat's cheese and some fresh basil leaves. Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden.Beetroot, feta, walnut
Spread the base with creme fraiche. Thinly slice a cooked beetroot and arrange the discs on the tart, overlapping them. Top with a generous amount of crumbled feta, freshly ground black pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice and some artfully placed walnuts.
Chorizo, egg, paprika
Spread the base with tomato puree, and crack an egg on top. Add some thinly sliced chorizo and spring onion, and a sprinkle of paprika. Bake until the egg has set and the pastry is golden.
Sausage, fennel, mustard
Spread the base with creme fraiche mixed with dijon mustard (the amount will depend on the size of your tart but 3 tbsp of creme fraiche and 1 tbsp mustard is about right). Add some fennel, very thinly sliced lengthways, and your leftover sausage, roughly chopped, topped with a sprinkling of fennel seeds and some salt.
Caroline Craig and Sophie Missing are the authors of Cook column The Lunch Box and The Little Book of Lunch (Square Peg)PASTA AND NOODLES
Claire Thomson gives the ubiquitous pasta salad a run for its money with three enticing noodle numbers.
From a standing start and with the carbs cooked, these three dishes can be made in the time it takes to make a sandwich.Courgette 'spaghetti' with basil pesto
Vegetable spaghetti: a doddle to make and a fantastic way of supplementing the pasta. Hot or cold, the combination is spot-on. Leftover pesto can be covered in olive oil and stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
3 firm medium-size courgettes
Salt and black pepper
For the pesto
75g parmesan, grated
50g basil leaves
½ garlic clove, minced finely
50g pine nuts, toasted in a dry frying pan over moderate heat until golden brown
75g olive oil
1 First make the pesto. Put the cheese, basil and garlic into a food processor and work to a paste. Add the pine nuts and blitz for a bit, then add the oil and blitz to combine. Set aside.
2 Shred the courgettes lengthways into spaghetti ribbons using a mandolin, if you have one, or cut into thin strips, then slice each strip into long spaghetti ribbons, comparable in size to the spaghetti pasta.
3 Cook the pasta as per the packet instructions then drain and add the courgette spaghetti, mixing thoroughly. The residual heat of the cooked spaghetti will be enough to soften the courgettes.
4 Add the pesto to the pasta, mix thoroughly and season to taste.Macaroni with smoked mackerel, dill, spring onions and sour cream
Smoked mackerel is a wonderfully versatile thing to have in your fridge. It's an ingredient that seems to hold its own in a school lunchbox all morning long. Grated raw beetroot can be used here instead of the cucumber, and tarragon instead of dill.
3 smoked mackerel fillets
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium cucumber, peeled, deseeded and diced
20g dill, chopped
3 spring onions, finely sliced
150ml sour cream
Salt and black pepper
1 Cook the pasta as per the packet instructions.
2 Pull the mackerel flesh from the skin, extract any bones and tear into smallish pieces.
3 In a bowl, mix the cold pasta with the olive oil, before adding the sour cream, dill, mackerel, cucumber and lemon juice and. Season to taste.
Cold Szechuan noodles
Based on traditional Chinese street food, these are quick to make and you can adjust the chilli blast by adding extra per serving accordingly. Pack the cucumber, spring onion and sunflowers seeds in separate pots to add to the noodles when ready to eat. You can use grated radish or carrot instead of the cucumber.
4 nests (50g-75g each) of medium wheat noodles
1 tbsp peanut oil or sunflower oil
A handful of sesame and sunflower seeds
A pinch of salt
2 tbsp of Chinese sesame paste or tahini, thinned with about 1 tbsp of water
1-1½ tbsp dark soy sauce
1-1½ tbsp light soy sauce
1-1½ tbsp black Chinese vinegar
1-1½ tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 small garlic clove, minced
½ cucumber, peeled, deseeded, cut into thin batons
4 spring onions
Chilli oil or flakes
1 Cook the noodles as per instructions then refresh in cold water, drain in a colander and douse with the peanut/sunflower oil, mixing thoroughly.
2 In a dry frying pan, toast the seeds with the salt until they begin to toast, crackle and turn golden brown.
3 Thin the sesame paste with water. It might look like it has split or separated. Don't worry: once mixed with all the other sauce ingredients, the sesame paste will amalgamate again.
4 In a bowl big enough to house your cooked noodles, mix the thinned sesame paste, soy sauces, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, minced garlic and chilli. Add the cold noodles and mix thoroughly with a pair of chopsticks. If the noodles seize - feel a bit too bound together - a tablespoon of cold water added to the bowl at this point will help to loosen them.
5 Serve with the cucumber, spring onions, seeds and chilli flakes.
Claire Thomson is the author of food blog 5oclockapron.com. Her first book will be published by Ebury Press in February 2015
Sam and Sam Clarke suggest a hint of sweet and sour to create the perfect accompaniments to crudités.
These recipes call for a sweet white wine vinegar, such as moscatel - this can be substituted with ordinary white wine vinegar and a pinch of sugar.
1 large bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
8 green chillies, deseeded (if hot) and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, sliced
200ml extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp sweet white wine vinegar
1 Blitz the coriander, chillies, garlic and half the olive oil in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, add the remaining oil, lemon juice, vinegar, some salt and stir well.
1 small bunch of dill, roughly chopped
1 small bunch of tarragon, roughly chopped
1 small bunch of basil, roughly chopped
1 small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed to a paste with ½ tsp salt
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
200g strained Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp pale tahini
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp sweet white wine vinegar
A pinch of sugar
1 Whizz the herbs, garlic and olive oil in a food processor to a smooth paste. Transfer to a bowl, add the other ingredients and mix well, season with a little salt and check the seasoning. The ideal consistency is that of double cream. If the sauce is too thick, add a splash of water.
1 bunch of basil, roughly chopped
1 bunch of tarragon, roughly chopped
1 bunch of dill, roughly chopped
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp sweet white wine vinegar
A pinch of sugar
3 tbsp aioli, made without garlic, or mayonnaise
1 Blitz all the ingredients except the aioli in a blender until smooth. Mix in the aioli and check seasoning.
Sam and Sam Clarke are the founders of Moro and Morito, and authors of several books, moro.co.ukSALADS
The secret of a great salad, says Anna Jones, lies in the combination of flavours, textures and colours, and the quality of your dressing.
Salads are so much more than a bowl of leaves - whether they sit beside another dish, or are a meal in themselves, they are a great way to be creative. Follow the basic flow of the recipe below - but feel free to experiment ...
Anna Jones is a chef, food stylist and the author of A Modern Way to Eat, published by 4th EstateONE POT
A versatile broth can be transformed in minutes into a hearty stew or warming curry with the addition of a few vegetables, some spices or leftover meat. Jane Baxter offers some of her favourite suggestions, but the permutations are endless...
Serves a hearty 6
1 large onion
2 sticks celery
1 red pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 x tin chopped tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1 Chop the first five vegetables very finely. Cook in a heavy-based pan in the olive oil for at least 20 minutes over a low heat. Try not to colour the veg too much. The longer you can cook it, the more flavour in your base.
2 Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes before tipping in the tomatoes. Turn up the heat until they are bubbling then cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes, being careful not to allow the mixture to "catch" on the bottom of the pan. This base can now be added to in the following ways:
Chilli and lamb stew
And lots of fresh chopped red chilli and browned minced lamb with pinches of ground fennel, cinnamon and coriander.
Sweet potato and coconut curry
Add some diced sweet potatoes, coconut milk and curry spices. Simmer for 10 minutes before tipping in a handful of french beans and cauliflower florets. Cook for a further 5 minutes until all the vegetables are tender. Finish with a few chopped cashews and some chopped coriander.
Chicken, borlotti and greens soup
Pour in 300ml good chicken stock and bring up to a simmer. Add lots of shredded greens including kale, chard or spinach. Add a 400g tin of drained borlotti beans and shredded cooked chicken. Heat thoroughly and season well. Finish with a handful of ripped ciabatta chunks (or use cooked orzo pasta, cooked barley or faro) and drizzle with lots of olive oil. Sprinkle with parmesan.
Turnip and green bean soup
Add diced turnips, runner beans and french beans. Cook for 10 minutes or until tender. Add a 400g tin of drained cannellini beans. Top with vegetable stock to the desired consistency. Blend a cupful of the soup and return to the pan. Finish with a swirl of pistou or pesto.
Chorizo and cauliflower stew
Add 100g diced cooking chorizo, a 400g tin of chickpeas (drained), 400g cauliflower florets and a teaspoon of smoked paprika. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring well. Season and add 200ml chicken stock. Simmer for a few minutes until the cauliflower is just cooked.
Jane Baxter is a chef and food writer, co-author of Cook column Back to Basics with Henry Dimbleby and founder of the Riverford Field Kitchen
What could be quicker than opening up a can of beans? Tom Hunt suggests three delicious, nutritious ways to use the humble legume...
A late summer treat, this dish is delicious cold but can also be easily reheated for a hearty and substantial lunch. You can substitute the mixed beans with whatever tin of beans you have to hand.
Light olive oil
1 aubergine (about 150g), cut into rough cubes
2 sticks of celery, diced, including leaves
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
50g capers, salted are the most delicious, but rinse beforehand
1 tin of mixed beans, drained
1 tbsp red or white wine vinegar
1 heaped tsp sugar
4 sprigs parsley, stalks finely diced, leaves roughly chopped
1 Heat a large frying pan with a good glug of olive oil until hot. Add the aubergine in batches, frying on all sides until they are browned.
2 Fry the celery and garlic in light olive oil in a medium saucepan for 5 minutes.
3 Add the aubergine, tomato, capers, beans, vinegar and sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley.
All-the-leftovers bean salad
This is a perfect end-of-week recipe to use up all the odds and ends of fresh vegetables that you have knocking around the kitchen.
400g leftover raw veg, such as carrot, fennel, peas, runner beans and peppers
1 tin of beans, such as borlotti or butter bean, drained
12 sprigs mixed herbs, such as parsley, coriander, basil, oregano, stalks and leaves finely chopped
½ lemon, juiced, or 2 tbsp white wine or cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tbsp dijon mustard
A glug of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper, to taste
100g smoked mackerel, flaked
100g feta, crumbled
100g smoked tofu, cut into cubes
1 Dice all the vegetables to around 2cm pieces. Combine the veg with all the other ingredients and mix thoroughly together.
Adzuki bean puree with ginger, honey and soy
This can be eaten cold like hummus, with rice cakes, crudites or bread, or heated with a little added water to make the most delicious, revitalising and healthy soup.
1 tin adzuki beans, drained, liquid reserved
Juice of ¼ lemon
1 tsp honey
1cm piece of fresh ginger, skin scraped off (optional)
1 garlic clove, peeled
A dash of soy sauce
1 Place all of the ingredients into a blender with some of liquid kept from the beans. Pulse-blend until smooth, adding more liquid, if necessary.
Tom Hunt is an eco-chef and author of The Natural Cook, published by Quadrille
A staple of Lebanese cuisine and a favourite childhood snack of Anissa Helou, the flatbread wrap is comfort food and nostalgia all wrapped up into one bundle of deliciousness...
When I was little, every day we returned from school famished and my adorable mother was always there, ready to make us the most delicious wraps using either pitta or marqûq (handkerchief) flatbreads.
Arûss batata ma'habaq (basil mash wrap)
If she was using pitta, she used only one layer but with marqûq, she needed two layers as the bread is so thin. These wraps use two layers of marqûq, as the bread is very thin.
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
30g fresh basil, leaves only, finely chopped
1 medium onion, very finely chopped
2 marqûq flatbreads
1 Put the potatoes in a pot. Cover with water and place over a medium to high heat. Bring to a boil, then add salt to taste and boil gently for 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are done. Drain the potatoes and place in a large shallow bowl. Mash with a potato masher.
2 Add the oil, basil and onion and mix well. Add pepper to taste and more salt, if needed.
3 Trim the marqûq to make squares with sides measuring about 35cm. Fold the bread in half and brush with olive oil. Spread half the potato mash across the bread leaving about 1cm free around the edges. Then fold the long edge nearest to you over the potatoes and gently roll to make a cylinder. Cut the cylinder, on the slant, to have 2 medium wraps. Make and divide the other wrap in the same way. Wrap with greaseproof paper and serve within 3-4 hours.
Arûss jibneh wa khiyar (cheese and cucumber wrap)
Here, I suggest you use thin pitta instead of marqûq.
300g feta cheese, crumbled
60g fresh mint, leaves only, finely chopped
2 ridge cucumbers, peeled, quartered lengthways, deseeded and thinly sliced
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
2 medium pitta breads, split open to make 4 thin discs
1 Mix the cheese with the mint, cucumber and olive oil.
2 Lay one disc of pitta bread, coarse side up on your work surface. Brush the bread with oil. Spread a quarter of the cheese mixture all over the bread. Roll into a tight cylinder and cut in two on the slant. Make the other wraps the same way, wrap in greaseproof paper and serve within 3-4 hours.
Arûss labneh ma' khiyar wa zaytun (labneh, cucumber and olive wrap)
Have the labneh plain or mix it with za'atar for extra texture and tartness.
3 tbsp za'atar (optional)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Few sprigs fresh mint, leaves only
¼ cup green olives, pitted
2 small Middle Eastern cucumbers, quartered lengthways
2 marqûq flatbreads
1 Put the labneh in a mixing bowl with the za'atar, if using, the olive oil and salt to taste. Mix quickly leaving streaks of oil in the labneh.
2 Trim the marqûq to make squares with sides measuring about 35cm. Fold the bread in half and spread half the labneh mixture over the bread leaving about 1cm free around the edges. Arrange half the mint, olives and cucumber in a line at the edge of the bread nearest to you. Fold the long edge nearest to you over the garnish and gently roll to make a cylinder. Cut the cylinder, on the slant, to make 2 medium wraps. Repeat with the other bread. Wrap with greaseproof paper and serve within the next 3-4 hours.
Anissa Helou is a Middle-Eastern food specialist and author of seven books, anissas.com
Whether it's a home-baked cookie or a slice of handmade cake, DIY sweet treats are a must-have addition to any lunchbox worth its salt. Cook columnists Felicity Cloake, Susanna Booth and Ruby Tandoh share their favourite recipes
A miracle cure for the four o'clock slump. The beauty of this classic recipe is that you can make the dough, and even shape the cookies the night before; they'll bake in the time it takes you to have a shower the next morning. Believe me, once you've had warm chocolate chip cookies on your desk, you'll never go back to crumbly corner-shop digestives. FC
120g salted butter, at room temperature
75g light brown sugar
75g granulated sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
240g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
170g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
Salt flakes (optional - but if using, add a pinch of fine salt to the dough along with the sugars)
1 Using a wooden spoon, or (and even better) a food mixer, beat together the butter and both sugars until just combined. Add the vanilla extract, then the egg, and beat in well.
2 Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl, and stir in until it just comes together into a dough. Fold in the chocolate pieces until evenly distributed, then, if you've got time, chill the mixture overnight, or for up to 72 hours.
3 Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper, and divide the mixture into golfball-size spheres, spacing them well apart on the tray, so they don't melt into each other as they cook. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, until golden, but not browned.
4 Sprinkle them lightly with sea salt, if using, and allow to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes, before moving to a wire rack to cool completely. Or alternatively, sample them immediately.
Perfect Too by Felicity Cloake (Fig Tree) is out now.
Easy seed-crusted banana bread
My mum eventually gave up packing bananas into our schoolbags after fighting a losing battle against blackened fruits and banana-smeared satchels for most of our school-going days. Here's a safer way of slipping bananas into kids' (or your own) packed lunches: a moist loaf with a crunchy, seed top. I've used far less sugar than you might be used to in cakes, but the natural sweetness of the bananas should more than compensate. It's a perfectly simple bake, ready in less than 40 minutes. And for those as averse to washing up as I am, you'll be pleased to hear that it's a one-bowl mix. RT
Makes 2 small loaves
4 medium bananas
120ml sunflower or almond oil
120g soft light brown sugar
4 large eggs
100g wholemeal flour
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp cinnamon
A pinch of salt
80g chopped nuts or seeds (I use a mix of sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds)
1 Grease and line 2 x 900g loaf tins and preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.
2 Mash the bananas in a large mixing bowl then stir in the oil, 100g of the sugar, eggs and milk. The mix will look sloppy and a little curdled at this point, but it'll come together as soon as you add the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and salt, mixing only for as long as is necessary to bring the thick batter together.
3 Divide the mixture between the two prepared tins, sprinkle over the remaining sugar and then scatter the nuts and/or seeds on top. Bake for 30-35 minutes, testing - as usual - with a small knife or skewer inserted into the centre of the cake. If the knife emerges with no more than a couple of rogue crumbs stuck to it, the cakes are ready. Leave to cool completely in their tins overnight, then slice and pack into lunchboxes in the morning. Thanks to the oil and banana in these loaves, they'll stay moist for a couple of days if you wrap them in foil.
Recipe by Ruby Tandoh
Orange and pine nut biscotti
Orange zest lends a citrussy flavour to this gluten-free and dairy-free version of an Italian classic. SB
Makes about 16
100g light brown soft sugar
75g ground almonds
100g gluten-free plain white flour blend
Zest of one large orange
A pinch of fine salt
50g pine nuts
Vegetable oil, for greasing
1 Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3 and lightly oil a baking tray.
2 Separate the eggs. Whisk the whites until stiff and set aside. Whisk the yolks with the sugar until pale and foamy. Fold in the ground almonds, flour blend, orange zest, salt and whisked egg white. When fully combined, fold in the pine nuts.
3 Spoon the mixture out on to the tray in two heaps, then use a spatula to fashion each one into a rectangle about 15x7cm.
4 Bake for 30 minutes, remove the tray from the oven and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes. Cut each rectangle into diagonal strips to make the biscotti. Spread the biscotti out on the tray and put it back in the oven. Bake for a further hour at 110C/225F/gas mark ¼ until the biscotti have hardened fully.
Recipe by Susanna Booth, widecirclecooking.com
Say goodbye to boring sandwiches. Try these wraps of labneh, cucumber and olive; basil mash; and a simple cheese and cucumber. All photography by Kim Lightbody for the Guardian. Photograph: Kim Lightbody/Guardian
Photograph: Kim Lightbody/Guardian
Puff, the magic ingredient: these tarts should make a nice alternative to sarnies.
Courgette 'spaghetti' with basil pesto, macaroni with smoked mackerel, dill, spring onions and sour cream, cold Szechuan noodles. Photograph: Kim Lightbody/Guardian
Learn to make a wicked broth and a world of soups and stews opens up your lunchtimes.