Work day lunches are shrouded in struggle.
On the days you bring food, you’re inevitably accepting the refrigerator Tetris challenge – the one where you spend 10 minutes shifting boxes of Bud Light and seven types of empty Trader Joe’s hummus packs to find room where your sandwich won’t be obliterated or “accidentally” shoved under a Lululemon tote.
But fridge Tetris is something that, with persistence and learned detachment to whether or not you just moved someone else’s half-eaten yogurt to the deli drawer, can be mastered. Finding the right meal spots on the days when you’re not slinging the ol’ lunch bag, however, never ceases to be an emotionally taxing exercise. (Or maybe just for some of us…)
It would be easy to run down to the Pret A Manger that’s 20 feet away, but you don’t want to set yourself up for a totally non-satisfying pile of arugula (and the compensatory bag of Fritos you’ll need two hours later.)
It’s tempting to run across the street to McDonald’s, Wendy’s or Panda Express, but you’re not in enough of a despaired, irreverent or inebriated state to get the full experience.
Since you utterly lack the self control to get Chipotle and stop eating it when you’re feeling full (plus the policy on napping in the Mother’s Room is still vague), that would be a conscious blow to your afternoon productivity.
And, of course, the 18th falafel chain just opened a few blocks away, but you’re a little concerned that your weekly intake might contribute to premature exhaustion with the fried balls of glory and you’re not ready to accept that.
If this blatant projection of my own lunch neuroses doesn’t feel at all familiar, consider yourself a strong-willed, highly functioning human being. But if you have the slightest inkling that there must be more to the weekday lunch grind, an alternative route to mid-day enlightenment, here’s a cure-all sandwich.
It’s simple and bold and you won’t find it in the 11 quick-serve places around your office, even though it’s delicious enough to be. It’s a cool kiss-off to sliced turkey and peanut butter, the kind that reinvigorates your lunch making motivation.
Just be sure to hide it in a no-crush zone in the office refrigerator.
Smashed Chickpea Salad Sandwich
Makes enough filling for at least 2 sandos on regulation size sandwich bread; Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp pitted, thinly sliced black olives
1 tbsp finely chopped shallots
Zest and juice from half a lemon
Olive oil, salt and black pepper to taste
(+ your favorite sandwich bread – lightly toasted because, texture – & dijon mustard)
Mix everything but the olive oil in a medium-ish bowl. With a fork, coarsely mash the mixture until the chickpeas start to break down (but aren’t totally pulverized.) Add a couple glugs of olive oil and few pinches of salt/pepper, then stir to incorporate.
Toast your sandwich bread and slap some dijon mustard on both sides. Pile on the chickpea mixture and enjoy (with a pickle spear on the side and, if you’re looking for that true lunchtime luxury, a can of Dr. Brown’s.)