Lunch box recipes

We're a bit giddy in the Mezze household - the thoughts of having a few hours to work at home without also having to care for the kids or scramble for childcare when we both have to be in the deli. The past few months have been a bit of an adventure with gorgeous memories and trying times. We're definitely ready for the kids to go back to school!!!

We're making a menu with the kids (5 and 8 year olds) of lunches they're happy to have which we're hoping will lead to lunches that are eaten and less stress in the morning when I don't have a clue what to put in their lunch boxes!

Here are a few of our favourite lunch box recipes for kids and adults alike.

Bourekas

These puff pastry parcels are a hit in our house. They're great fresh out of the oven but also work well for lunch boxes. You can prep them the night before and bake them in the morning if you want them to be fresh going into the lunch boxes. I add some seaweed for some added nutrients and umami but you can also add some pesto or chopped spinach to green it up. It's an easy one to make and get the kids involved in too.

These are great as is or you can serve them the Israel way; split the boureka in half at the seam, spread with some zhug (spicy sauce), a sliced boiled egg and pepper. Enjoy with a chopped salad, pickles and olives.

Makes 6 bourekas enough for 3 adults or 3-6 kids

Ingredients

125g ricotta cheese

125g hard cheese like cheddar, grated

1 egg, separated

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp dried seaweed flakes (optional)

375g puff pastry - defrosted if frozen and left out of the fridge for 30 mins prior to using

sesame or poppy seeds

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180 °C

2. Prepare a baking tray with greaseproof paper or a little flour

3. Mix the cheeses with the egg yolk, pepper and dried seaweed flakes

4. Roll out the puff pastry and cut into 6 squares - roll out a bit with a rolling pin to create a square if they come out rectangular after cutting

5. Brush the edges of the inside of the pastry with egg white and add 1 1/2 tbsp of filling and fold into a triangle. Push edges down with fingers to seal. Brush the top with egg white and sprinkle on sesame seeds, poppy seeds or a sprinkle of seaweed flakes

6. Bake for approx 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

7. Allow to cool completely before packing into lunchboxes.

Tips

- Buy fresh pastry, make up the bourekas and freeze. Bake from frozen when needed.

- Double the recipe and you can use a whole 250g tub of ricotta so you don't have leftovers

- If you have any leftover filling you can use it to make an omelette

Za'atar pita chips and tahini sauce

This is handy for those that love dunking crudités into a dip and is very quick to make. This is one of those lunches that the kids usually manage to finish while at school. In some Middle Eastern countries za'atar is given to kids to eat for breakfast to help them concentrate throughout the day. Not sure if there's any truth in it but it tastes delicious!

Serves 2 adults or 3-4 small kids

Ingredients

For the pita chips:

2 pita breads

1 tbsp extra virgin rapeseed oil

2 tsp za'atar

1/2 tsp sea salt

For the tahini sauce:

1/2 lemon juiced

1 small garlic clove, crushed

1/2 tsp sea salt

200g tahini

200ml water

Crudités to dip into the sauce with the pita chips

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180 °C

2. Cut the pita breads in half separating them into two rounds and then cut each round into 6 triangles

3. Place pita triangles on a baking tray, our over oil and sprinkle with the za'atar and sea salt. Mix the triangles in oil and seasoning with your hands and spread out on to the tray

3. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until crisp and turning brown

4. While the pita chips are baking, make the tahini by mixing all the ingredients together with a fork. It make look congealed at the start of mixing but don't worry keep mixing and it'll come together. Pour into a small container for lunch. The remainder can be stored in a jar in the fridge for up to a week and used for sandwiches.

5. Allow pita chips to cool completely before packing in lunchboxes.

Note

- Our favourite tahini is Al Nakhil. It is smooth and doesn't tend to clump together like other brands and it tastes fab!! You can pick it up in Mezze deli or from our online shop.

- Za'atar is a blend of herbs and spices found in the Middle East. The basic mixture has dried za'atar leaves (like a thyme), sumac (ground berries with a citrusy flavour) and sesame seeds. Other spices like cumin, salt and oil may be added to the mixture too. We use Zaytoun za'atar from Palestine which you can pick it up in Mezze deli or from our online shop.

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