Food

Walnut-Crusted Avocado, Feta, and Eggs: A luscious lunch bowl perfect for work or a weekend picnic

Plus, author Allison Day’s advice for keeping finicky avocado fresh and green throughout the week.

Plus, author Allison Day’s advice for keeping finicky avocado fresh and green throughout the week

(Photography by Allison Day)

Unable to find “a middle ground between tired sandwiches and sad desk lunches or expensive (often unhealthy) takeout,” food blogger Allison Day decided to take things into her own hands and devote an entire cookbook to the oft-overlooked midday meal. This recipe is one of our favourites from that collection, aptly titled Modern Lunch, because it spins fresh, hearty ingredients into a sunny dish that doesn’t need meat to be satisfying. While the real beauty of this bowl is that the elements can all be made ahead, if you want to get away from that packed lunch feeling, Allison has a fittingly civilized suggestion: “Transfer your meal onto a real plate or bowl, and use real utensils instead of eating out of the container… and make sure you’re packing your food in a way that makes sense, with sauces in a divided container or small jar away from delicate ingredients prone to sogginess.”

See below for more of Allison’s advice on keeping finicky ingredients like avocado fresh throughout the week, then scroll down for the full recipe.

Walnut-Crusted Avocado, Feta, and Eggs with Pesto Rice

By Allison Day

There are two tricks I use take this lunch box from ordinary to extraordinary. The first, tossing rice in pesto keeps it moist and tender for a few days, while helping to hold each grain’s individuality. The second, crusting avocado in walnut crumble (or any crumbled nut or seed) helps it retain its green colour and prevents it from becoming an unappetizing shade of brown. This lunch box’s clarity and vibrant appeal comes through in every bite, making it a favourite around here.

Ingredients

Pesto Rice:

  • 1¼ cups water
  • 1 cup medium-grain white rice
  • 2 tbsp No-Recipe Green Pesto (*see note below) or prepared pesto
  • 1 carrot, finely grated (optional)

Walnut-Crusted Avocado, Feta, and Eggs:

  • ½ cup Walnut Crumble (see recipe below)
  • 4 avocados
  • Lemon juice, as needed
  • ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
  • Cayenne
  • Salt

Walnut Crumble:

  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp dried ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp whole coriander seeds
  • ¼ tsp salt

Preparation

For the pesto rice, in a medium saucepan, bring the water and rice to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 25 minutes. Turn off the heat and steam, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff with a fork, and cool to room temperature before covering and refrigerating for at least 2 hours, until cold. Transfer the chilled rice to a large bowl and mix in the pesto and carrot (if using).

For the walnut-crusted avocado, add the walnut crumble to a large plate. Halve and pit the avocados, and scoop out the halves from the peel using a large spoon; discard the skin. Rub the avocado flesh all over with lemon juice and gently press the halves into the crumble to coat the sliced and peeled surface as fully as possible, including the pit indent.

To assemble, add a bed of pesto rice to each of 4 containers and top the rice with a walnut-crusted avocado half, along with the feta and egg. Sprinkle with cayenne and salt to taste. Seal everything up and refrigerate it until you are ready to take it with you.

If taking this to work, keep it in the refrigerator or with a cooler pack in your lunch bag until you are ready to open your container up and enjoy.

Walnut Crumble:

For the walnut crumble, place the walnut halves, thyme, ginger, coriander seeds, and salt in a food processor or the bowl of a large mortar and pestle, and pulse or crush until finely chopped. Add the mixture to a large skillet and toast over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until fragrant. Set aside. Cool and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month or refrigerate for up to 6 months.

*No-Recipe Green Pesto:

I make pesto with a variety of tender green herbs like parsley, basil, arugula, cilantro, and even kale, stuffing them all in a food processor until it’s nearly overflowing, along with a big clove of garlic, and pulsing until everything is minced. If I have pine nuts or walnuts handy, I add a handful of those, too, at this point. When everything is finely chopped, I turn on the machine and drizzle in extra-virgin olive oil, or a 50/50 mixture of extra-virgin olive oil and brown butter, until the mixture loosens up, resembling the consistency of a creamy salad dressing. To finish, I add a small squeeze of lemon juice or splash of sherry vinegar, along with a generous pinch of salt, and blend briefly one last time. I store the pesto in an airtight container in the freezer in small containers for 2 to 3 months, defrosting at room temperature when I need a pop of freshness. If you don’t want to freeze the pesto, store it in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Restyle: Make it a bowl

Toss some arugula with lemon juice and olive oil and add it to 4 bowls. Mix the feta and cayenne into the rice and add it on top of the arugula mixture, followed by the walnut-crusted avocado and egg.

Yield: Makes 4 servings


Excerpted from Modern Lunch: +100 Recipes for Assembling the New Midday Meal by Allison Day. Copyright © 2019 Allison Day. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

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