Friday, June 26, 2009
Project Sack Lunch: Whole Wheat, Feta, and Olive Salad
When you were little, did you ever notice that the cool kids had perfect lunches? It's not just that the cool kids had neat stuff in their lunches. In fact, it was typically pretty bland and boring - a sandwich, some chips, a juice box. Cliche at best. It was the weird, ostracized kids that had cottage cheese with fresh fruit, leftover potstickers or sushi rolls, and organic soy milk boxes (all of which I donned in my lunch pail at some point) things that I'm sure any adult would find intriguing and delicious. I think the crux of it all was that somehow, their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches always looked so much better than mine. The bread was a crisp white and visibly fluffy, like something out of a Wonderbread commercial while my bread was brown, grainy, usually smashed, and always soggy with the sandwiches contents. Their peanut butter was smooth, creamy and spreadable while mine looked like melted sandpaper, all textury and odd. And their jelly always managed to stay neat and tidy, perfectly separated from the peanut butter as though divided by some invisible shield, but mine was full of seeds and glopped all over the outside of the sandwich an all over my fingers. I'll never really know what those cool kids did to keep their PB&Js so pristine, but I'll always remember how different they were from my own.
I'm aiming to rewrite the school lunch social class divide, starting by throwing those perfect PB&Js out the window. It's time for those with legitimately cool lunches to be recognized. For my summer job as a day camp counselor, we have to bring a sack lunch. Now obviously I've lived most of my life eating sack lunches (albeit my mother making a lot of them) but I think it's safe to say that I haven't had to make a sack lunch in years, and I'm a bit rusty. I thought I'd reinvent my sack lunch skills and add some great sack lunch and picnic recipes to my repertoire, which is why I'm embarking on what I'm calling "Proect Sack Lunch."
I immediately thought of all those delicious grain salads I've been making. I can make a huge batch on a Sunday evening at eat it all week. I had been wanting to give this recipe for whole wheat, feta, and olive salad a shot for a while and thought that the first week of camp would be a perfect opportunity.
All in all, it was okay. It kept well, which I really liked. I'm not too fond of raw fennel so I lightly sauteed it before putting it in, which I do not recommend at all. If I were to make it again I'd just find a substitution, maybe celery or some fresh spinach leaves. I also replaced the pistachios with cashews since that's all I could find and I replaced the red wine vinegar with lemon juice. It was certainly better than PB&J.