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Minimal effort, maximum taste: the best packed lunch recipes

These exciting, delicious dishes are cheaper than chips… and healthier, too!
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Mediterranean Vegetable Salad

Mediterranean Vegetable Salad

Mediterranean-inspired, vegan salad recipe.

A flavour-filled dish packed with healthy ingredients that won’t leave you hungry an hour after eating!

This tasty treat is something a bit different for The HHH in that *shock horror!* it doesn’t contain any meat! However, after trying this vegan salad recipe on a whim, we were won over by the bold Mediterranean flavours and the variety of complementary textures. A garnish of crunchy pine nuts is the pièce de résistance!

The original recipe comes from the Deliciously Ella cookbook but with one small addition of pearl barley. We found that it just wasn’t quite filling enough without a main carb in the dish, but not only does pearl barley suitably bulk out the meal to provide enough energy for the working day, it also sits perfectly alongside the other ingredients — not overshadowing anything, but actually bringing them all together even more… Try it and see for yourself!

Apart from the great taste (of course!), the best thing about this dish is that it can be made in the time that it takes the pearl barley to cook. You put that on to boil and then you can casually prep and cook the rest of the ingredients — when the barley’s done, it’s all over! So, although it says 10 mins prep time below, there isn’t really any extra prep time that counts.

Click here for the full vegan salad recipe.

Mediterranean Vegetable Salad

A Mediterranean-inspired vegan packed lunch recipe – full of flavour and healthy ingredients, this dish won’t leave you hungry an hour after eating! *From The Hungry Hungry Husband and Deliciously Ella*
Course Lunch
Cuisine Mediterranean
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 233kcal


  • 100 g pearl barley
  • 2 aubergines sliced into thick strips
  • 200 g spinach
  • 75 g sun-dried tomatoes I buy the still-dry ones that need rehydrating before use but the jarred ones are just as good
  • 1 lime (juice of)
  • 50 g pine nuts these are expensive so use as many as you can afford! They add a really nice finishing texture
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • ½ tablespoon dried mixed herbs Herbes de Provence work really well, otherwise just chuck in a combination of oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, etc.
  • salt & pepper for seasoning


Cook pearl barley:

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan-assisted)
  • Add pearl barley to a saucepan, cover with cold water then urn the heat to max and bring to the boil
  • Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer, stirring occasionally (add more water if it gets low, the barley wants to be covered at all times)
  • Try some after 45 min and if it's soft, drain and set aside

Prepare sun-dried tomatoes & aubergines:

  • If using dehydrated sun-dried tomatoes, cover them in boiling water now and leave to soak for 10 mins before slicing them in half
  • Place the aubergine strips onto a baking tray, drizzle all over with oil and season with salt & pepper before sprinkling over your dried mixed herbs
  • Pop into the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes

Cook spinach:

  • Add spinach into a deep-sided frying pan or saucepan, drizzle with oil and season well with salt & pepper
  • Leave to wilt slowly over a low heat, turning it over every now and then
  • Once wilted, remove from the pan from heat and mix in the sun-dried tomatoes, lime juice, and tahini, as well the cooked pearl barely and aubergine
  • Add more lime juice and salt & pepper to taste before transferring to a large bowl – cover with cling film and leave in the fridge

Toast the pine nuts:

  • Add the pine nuts to a frying pan over a high heat and toast them for a few minutes *tip* no need to add oil as the nuts will release a little of their own
  • Be watchful the whole time and stir or toss the pan often to stop them from catching; when they go a little golden all over and start to smell really good, turn off the heat and transfer to an airtight tub

In the morning:

  • Put a portion of the salad into a tub or lunch box and sprinkle generously with the toasted pine nuts


*hot option* just pop the salad in the microwave (it will only take 1 or 2 minutes to heat up, depending on the strength of the machine) and sprinkle the pine nuts over afterwards

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