Whole Living Daily

Lunch Bunch: A Conversation Around the Table

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Every Monday for the last few months, a group of about a dozen of us have been taking turns bringing in lunch to share. We try to make it vegetarian and gluten-free, and as uncomplicated and unfussy as we can manage. This week's menu included individual quiches, quinoa salad, green salad, and flourless chocolate cake for dessert.

Inspired by this article by Susan Dominus in the New York Times, today over lunch we talked about what was discussed at our childhood dinner tables. Research editor Paul's family went around the table, each saying one thing that made them happy that day. Senior health editor Andi's family talked about the wildlife outside their home, noting the birds in the backyard and the squirrels’ endless mission to get into the birdfeeder. My family discussed articles that had appeared in that day's newspaper. Almost everyone chatted about what had happened in their lives—at work, at school, in their communities. Some of our parents, like photo assistant Jillian's mom, made three course dinners, others, like assistant managing editor Janice's, had a set meal that was made each day of the week (Sunday was pasta with tomato sauce, Monday was chicken soup, etc.). But what struck us most about our conversation was that as a group, we generally sat down to dinner with our families. Even when we flipped on the TV or read the paper during dinner, by and large, we gathered to share at least one meal day.

Maybe that's why we like this Monday ritual so much—something about coming together around a table feels familiar, even comforting. And when someone else does the cooking? Even better.


Spring Quiche

3 cups hot cooked rice
7 eggs
8 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded
1 garlic clove

1 leek, chopped
1 cup fresh peas
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 cups skim milk
s and p


1. Combine rice with 3 of the eggs (slightly beaten) and 1/2 of the cheese. Add s and p to taste. Spread into 2 sprayed pie dishes, or muffin tins.

2. Lightly sautee the garlic, leeks and mushrooms.  Remove from heat and stir in peas. Beat remaining eggs with milk and stir in vegetables. Season with s and p.

3. Spoon over rice. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cheese and bake 10 more minutes.

Quinoa Salad with Toasted Almonds


1/4 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup (3 ounces) quinoa

4 teaspoons olive oil

1 yellow bell pepper, ribs and seeds discarded, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1/8 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish (optional)

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 large celery stalk, diced

1 lime, halved


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast almonds until crisp, lightly browned, and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Meanwhile, place quinoa in a fine sieve and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear; drain well.

In a medium saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat. Add yellow pepper, garlic, scallions, and red-pepper flakes; cook until the pepper is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in quinoa, thyme, 1 cup water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 7 minutes. Stir in zucchini, cover, and cook until quinoa is tender but not mushy, 5 to 8 minutes longer. Remove the saucepan from heat.

Stir in celery, almonds, and remaining 2 teaspoons oil, season with salt, and fluff with a fork. Cool to room temperature before packing into two containers and refrigerating. When ready to eat, squeeze lime over salad, if desired. Serve with additional lime wedge and thyme, if desired.

Green Salad with Radishes and Lemon Dressing

These were adapted from a recipe by Martha Rose Shulman.


For dressing:

1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Whisk all ingredients together, and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. Drizzle over a bowl of baby field greens and sliced radishes, toss well.

Flourless Chocolate Cake


1 stick unsalted butter

60g valhrona chocolate (61% cacao) chopped small

60g almond flour

4 egg yolks

4 egg whites

80g sugar

1 tsp cream of tartar

Pinch of salt


  • Preheat over to 350º
  • Butter and sugar a 9" baking pan
  • Melt chocolate and butter in double broiler. Let cool.
  • Mix in almond flour and egg yolks.
  • Whisk egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar and pinch of salt until medium to still peaks form.
  • Pull in half egg mixture to the chocolate mix then fold in second half.
  • Pour in mixture to pan
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes.
  • Test with a toothpick. No liquid should exist, but moist choco-bits are good.

Photography by Jillian Guyette

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Comments (1)

  • This menu sounds so perfect for bunco lunch I'm hosting! I cant wait to try the spring quiche. What type of rice is best to use in the quiche? I'd use brown, but don't know if that would effect consistency.

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