As I’ve mentioned in the past, I like to keep a canvas tote of lunchtime staples in our breakroom fridge here at work. It helps to keep lunch costs down by not wasting my hard earned dough on some overpriced salad, and eliminates the need to lug around yet another heavy parcel while I’m on light rail. From baby spinach to cooked quinoa or rice, having basic lunch items readily available makes work lunches super simple.
Sometimes, however, I get a random craving for something or forget exactly what’s in my bag, so I end up bringing a new random ingredient to add to it. A few days of that kind of behavior and I end up with a veritable cornucopia of ingredients, most of which make no sense whatsoever.
It was during one of my moments of perplexed lunch bag inventory that the inspiration for this little dish came to mind. Out of the bag’s depths I’d pulled a small container of leftover brown rice, a crown of broccoli, some yogurt, an apple, and some pico de gallo. Everything except the latter sounded like it could work well together with a few dry ingredients I had at my desk, so I left the pico de gallo alone and threw together a quick little salad.
It took a couple tries to create a decent dressing, but once I had time to play around with it at home, the end result worked out beautifully. The creamy herbed dressing was the perfect foil against the sweet-tart flavors of the apples & cranberries, while the crunchy broccoli & almonds gave the salad plenty of interesting texture.
This is a great, filling salad that can be enjoyed year round and requires very little prep time, making it a great option for busy workday lunches. And at just $1.25 per serving, it’s super easy on the wallet. Let’s check out this easy, but super tasty recipe!
Creamy Brown Rice, Apple & Broccoli Salad (makes 4 servings; total cost per serving: $1.25)
1 c cooked brown rice
1 c broccoli florets
1 medium apple (Granny Smith, Fuji, Braeburn, etc.), chopped into 1/2″ cubes
1/2 c dried cranberries
1/2 c chopped almonds
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 c plain yogurt
1/4 c nonfat milk
1 t herbes de provence*
1/2 t sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Combine the last 5 ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until smooth. Set aside.
2. In a larger bowl combine the rice, broccoli, apple, scallions, cranberries and almonds. Pour the prepared dressing over the salad and mix gently until all ingredients are well-coated. Serve alone or over a bed of greens, garnish with extra ground black pepper, and enjoy!
* Can’t afford herbes de provence already mixed together? Don’t fret! Combine equal parts dried basil, thyme, oregano, fennel, rosemary and (if you have it around) lavender. Mix together and store in an airtight container with the rest of your spices.