Take a peek into my lunch box, and you’ll see that I’m pining for sunny weather. So to give you a mini desk-vacation for this month’s brown bag lunch, I’ve assembled the flavors of Mexico and my favorite summer salad.
Tamales are easy to make, and healthy when you make them yourself. You can fill them with anything you like: bacon and kale, shredded lamb and guajillo sauce, turkey and salsa verde, even figs (my favorite).
Have friends over for a tamalada — a tamale-making party, and put up enough tamales to keep your lunches healthy Mexican until Cinco de Mayo.
No time for tamaladas? Find your favorite tamale purveyor and stock up. Tortilleria Mi Pueblo sells handmade tamales, and they have a killer red and green salsa to serve on the side. Or check out Sanchez Tacos; I’ve heard people swoon over their tamales.
There are mini seedless watermelons in the market now, and they are just as sweet as an August day. Make a quick salad with cubes of watermelon and feta and a handful of fresh greens. Dress with a squeeze of lime, and your favorite fruity olive oil, and toss on some pepitas (salted pumpkin seeds) for crunch.
Your treat: organic kumquats are in season, and their sweet and sour yin-yang make the perfect dessert. Dip one in sugar or honey, take a bite, spit out the seeds and repeat. You’ll never have this much fun with a power bar.
Your snack: When 3 p.m. rolls around, bring out your supply of baby kale chips. More addictive than potato chips and easy to make: Wash and dry 2 handfuls of baby kale. (Dry very well or the chips will be soggy.) Toss with 2 Tbsp. olive oil and 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake at 400 F for 10 minutes or until crisp.
The trick to microwaving a tamale: Tamales dry out easily in the microwave, so put them in a sturdy plastic bag, with an inch of water. Leave the bag open, but place another bowl on top to trap the steam. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Turn the tamales over and microwave for another 30 seconds to 2 minutes.