Quick, Easy Make-Ahead Lunches

Quick, Easy Make-Ahead Lunches

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Best Recipes Ever's Kary Osmond delivers the best lunch ever with two quick and easy make-ahead recipes you can take to go.

quick_easy_make_ahead_lunches_2.jpgMediterranean Penne Pasta Salad
Makes 4 servings

3 cups (750 mL) penne pasta
2 jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained with liquid reserved
2 cups (500 mL) packed fresh spinach, shredded
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup (150 mL) reserved artichoke liquid
2 tbsp (25 mL) wine vinegar
2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
1 dash hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup (50 mL) fresh parsley, chopped

1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook penne pasta for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender but firm. Drain. Rinse under cold running water, drain well.

2. In a large bowl, toss pasta with artichokes, spinach, red onion and chick peas.

3. Whisk together artichoke liquid, wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, hot pepper sauce and parsley. Toss with penne pasta to coat.

quick_easy_make_ahead_lunches_1.jpgToasted Oat Granola Bars
Makes 24 pieces

3 cups (750 mL) large-flake rolled oats
1/2 cup (125 mL) shredded, sweetened coconut
1/2 cup (125 mL) dried dates, chopped
1/2 cup (125 mL) dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup (125 mL) dried cranberries
1/2 cup (125 mL) sunflower seeds
1/2 cup (125 mL) sesame seeds
2/3 cup (150 mL) butter
2/3 cup (150 mL) packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 mL) liquid honey
1/4 cup (50 mL) corn syrup
1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla

1. In a large skillet, toast oats and coconut over medium heat, stirring often, until golden, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl; let cool.

2. Stir in dates, apricots, cranberries and seeds; set aside.

3. In a saucepan, bring butter, brown sugar, honey and corn syrup to boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let cool for 1 minute. Pour over oat mixture, stirring to coat.

4. Scrape into parchment paper-lined 13- x 9-inch (3.5 L) metal cake pan, pressing firmly with back of spoon.

5. Bake in 350 F (180 C) oven until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack. Cut into bars. Store in airtight container for up to 5 days.

quick_easy_make_ahead_lunches_bio.jpgKary Osmond loves being the face of CBC's successful daily cooking show Best Recipes Ever. She is the ambassador of back-to-basics food every afternoon, teaching Canadians coast-to-coast how to prepare the very best of Canadian Living's renowned recipe library, one "Tested Till Perfect" recipe at a time.