A Casual Lunch à Deux

Spring has sprung and it is definitely my favorite time of year. While I love going to restaurants and being waited on, sometimes it’s fun just to have a friend over and eat in the garden while we soak up a few guilty rays (wearing SPF 30, of course). Once I got into the habit of having friends over without a great amount of fuss, I have decided in some ways it’s easier than a restaurant. As is my nature, I keep a few staples on hand which makes putting this lunch together easy, and I serve the surplus rice salad later for dinner.

RECIPE
Greek-inspired Tuna Pita

2 cans  fancy chunk white tuna in water
1/2 box  grape tomatoes, halved
About 20 niçoise olives, coarsely chopped
1 medium cucumber, large dice
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
3-5 tblsp.  olive oil, to taste Fresh parsley, chopped

Mix together all ingredients and refrigerate for at least
one hour. Serve in wheat pitas with sprigs of parsley.

Brown Rice Salad
3 cups    cooked brown rice or other whole grain rice
(For this recipe I used a Bhutanese red rice that cooks in 20 minutes.)
1/2 cup    apricots, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup    toasted walnuts, chopped
1 6-oz. pkg.    feta cheese, crumbled


For the dressing:

1/2 tsp.    dijon mustard
1/4 cup    apple-cider vinegar
1/2 tsp.    honey Pinch of salt
1/2 cup    olive oil

Mix together mustard, vinegar and honey with salt. Then slowly whisk in olive oil in a steady stream until dressing begins to emulsify. Lightly toss with salad ingredients and refrigerate for one hour. Serves 6.

(This is also great for dinner, warmed up and served with baked chicken. To serve, cover rice with a wet paper towel and gently heat in a microwave for about 2 minutes.)