For a filling packed lunch, try rethinking sushi rolls

July 16, 2014 

Brown-bagging it is plenty economical, but a steady diet of sandwiches becomes boring pretty quickly, to say nothing of the fact that all those servings of refined carbs simply don’t provide the energy necessary to power you through a long afternoon.

So here is an alternative to the typical sandwich — colorful rolls that are light, yet still substantial. I modeled it on a sushi roll, but swapped out the rice for quinoa, and the fish for turkey.

By now, most folks have heard of quinoa, an ancient grain-like seed. It’s not only a protein-rich food, it’s also gluten-free and a terrific source of many nutrients, including fiber. But flavor-wise, quinoa isn’t exactly a powerhouse. So I add a little lemon juice and olive oil, which makes it quite tasty.

Another of quinoa’s charms is that it’s quick to cook, unlike most grains. White quinoa is the most common variety, but you’re welcome to substitute black or red in this recipe (though the end result will not be as pleasing to the eye). Be sure to check the back of the package to make sure the quinoa has been prewashed. If not, rinse it well yourself before cooking. It can be bitter otherwise.

This lunch roll is formed with a double layer of sliced turkey breast, which ensures that it won’t fall apart. Lean roast beef would perform the same task, if that’s more your style. I’ve filled it with carrots and red peppers, but any vegetables cut into thin strips will do. Likewise, you can substitute the lettuce of your choice for the spinach I specify. This recipe is very adaptable.

Sara Moulton was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows.

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