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Dining al desko

Eating your lunch at your desk doesn’t have to mean a sad-looking sandwich or a limp, homemade salad. It’s a depressing way to eat, but two-thirds of British office workers now eat their lunch at their desks, slogging through paperwork and spreadsheets while trying hard not to drip mayonnaise in between the keys on their keyboard and greasy crumbs on client files.

Believe it or not, packed lunches don’t have to be like you had as a child – a carton of Um Bongo squashed in a My Little Pony lunch box with a Blue Riband, apple and tinned tuna and margarine sandwich.

Here’s some healthier, cheaper alternatives to the same bland, shop-bought sandwich you always get. With a bit of prep you could have your lunch ready for the whole week and it’s better for the waistline and the wallet!

Broccoli and Pesto Pasta

Ingredients (2 servings)

125g broccoli
200g penne pasta
1/2 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 a lemon, zest and juice
Pinch of chilli flakes
1 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp Parmesan

1. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Boil the broccoli in salted water for four minutes.
2. Drain the broccoli and return it to the pan and lightly mash with a fork. Finely grate the garlic and zest the lemon and mix into the broccoli with the chilli flakes and pine nuts.
3. Drain the pasta, return to the pan and stir in the broccoli pesto.
4. Squeeze over the lemon juice, pour in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add in the Parmesan and toss. Keep in the fridge in an airtight container.

Feta toast with minty beans

Ingredients (1 serving)
3 heaped tbsp frozen soy beans or baby broad beans
1 tsp extra virgin rapeseed oil
1 tsp cider vinegar
1/2 garlic clove, finely grated
1 mint sprig, leaves chopped
1 slice rye or sourdough bread
2 heaped tbsp Greek yoghurt
15g feta cheese
1 cooked beetroot, sliced

1. Boil the beans following the packet instructions (about three minutes), drain and mix with the oil, vinegar, garlic and mint.
2. Toast the bread.
3. Mix the yoghurt with the feta to make a rough paste and spread half on to the toast. Add the beetroot slices and spread the rest of the feta mix on top. Finally, add the beans.
Take all the different bits for the sandwich to work in small tubs and build at your desk.

Italian sub

Ingredients (2 servings)
2 ciabatta rolls
90g salami slices
60g mozzarella, torn
2 tbsp basil leaves, torn
10 sun-dried tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic glaze

1. Halve the rolls, lay the salami slices, mozzarella, basil and sun-dried tomatoes on top, drizzle over the balsamic glaze. Couldn’t be easier!

Mexican bean salad

Ingredients (2 servings)
2 eggs
1 avocado, peeled and stoned
1 400g can of beans (any kind you like)
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
Small bunch coriander, leaves only, roughly chopped
125g cherry tomatoes, halved
Salad dressing of your choice
1/2 red chilli, deseeded and finely slicedPinch cumin

1. Lower the eggs into boiling water and boil for 6 minutes. Put in a bowl of cold water to cool.
2. Slice the avocados and place in a large bowl with the beans, onions, coriander and tomatoes.
3. Measure 2 tbsp of dressing into a bowl then mix in the chilli and cumin.
4. Peel the eggs and cut into quarters. Toss the salad with the dressing and add the eggs. Delicious with tortillas.

Chicken taco salad

Ingredients (1 serving)
1/4 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp low-fat soured cream
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 Baby Gem lettuce. shredded
50g sweetcorn, drained
5 cherry tomatoes, halved
75g cooked barbecue chicken
Juice 1 lime
1/2 small avocado, peeled and chopped
1 corn taco shell, broken into pieces

1. Make the dressing by combining the oil, soured cream and vinegar. Put in a pot and store in the fridge until ready to eat.
2. Put the lettuce, sweetcorn, tomatoes and chicken in a lunchbox. Stir the lime juice into the avocado and put on top.
3. Drizzle on the dressing and scatter over the taco to serve.

Asian chicken salad

Ingredients (2 servings)
1 chicken breast
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp lime juice and zest
1 tsp caster sugar
100g mixed salad leaves
Large handful coriander, chopped
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
1/4 cucumber, halved lengthways and sliced

1. Cover the chicken with cold water, bring to the boil and cook for ten minutes. Remove from the pan and tear into shreds.
2. Stir together the fish sauce, lime zest, juice and sugar until the sugar dissolves.
3. Place the leaves and coriander in a container, top with the chicken, onion, chilli and cucumber and place the dressing in a separate container to toss through the salad when ready to eat.

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