Food options around where I work are not that great. The good, decent stuff costs more than I'd want to spend on a daily basis and the affordable options are not that palatable. Street meat every day? Horrible. Mark Bittman to the rescue! I am a huge fan of his "101" recipe lists and just today he published "101 Fast Recipes for Inspired Picnics." Some highlights:
4 TOMATOES AND PEACHES Toss together sliced seeded tomatoes and peaches, along with thinly sliced red onion and chopped cilantro or rosemary. Dress at the last minute with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
5 ROAST BEEF AND BLUE Start with whole-grain rolls. Smear blue cheese on one side and prepared horseradish on the other. Add red onion and thin-sliced roast beef, pork or lamb. Pack! lettuce and tomato on the side. Potato chips are mandatory.
14 Cut day-old crusty bread into one-inch cubes. Just before leaving the house, combine it with chopped tomatoes (seeds are O.K.), chopped cucumber, chopped red onion and fresh basil. Pack dressing separately: olive oil, red wine vinegar, diced anchovies, capers, salt and pepper. Call this panzanella.
16 Thinly slice Savoy or Napa cabbage. Toss with thinly sliced red onion, half a diced jalapeño and handfuls of chopped cilantro. Dress with olive oil, lime juice, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Cabbage! Good for you!
24 Cut zucchini into big chunks and roast or grill with olive oil (and, if you like, whole garlic cloves). Combine with chopped seeded tomatoes, lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper.
33 Toss cooked or canned white beans with chopped seeded tomato, chopped anchovy, chopped olives, oil, lemon juice, lots of black pepper, salt if necessary and parsley.
45 Roast or boil sweet potatoes, but not too soft. Make a blended vinaigrette with a little chili, cumin, sherry vinegar and olive oil. Pack separately and toss together with scallions and mint.
55 Make simple syrup with rosemary; purée in a blender with watermelon, rum (optional) and lemon juice. Use more rum and call this a cocktail, or omit rum, add a little feta and eat with a spoon. Keep it cold in either case.
63 Drain a can of good quality salmon (preferably sockeye). Mix with cannellini beans, chopped tomato, diced shallot, chopped black or green olives, chopped parsley and basil. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Serve on bread (scooped out ciabatta is very nice) or over greens.
72 Combine equal parts soy sauce, mirin and sake with a little sugar and sesame oil; boil for a minute. Use this to baste chicken thighs, pork or beef while you grill or broil it. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and/or chopped scallions — ginger and/or lemon are good too — just before serving. Call it teriyaki. Works with mackerel and other dark fish, too.
77 Grind chunks of lamb shoulder in a food processor with onion, parsley, salt and pepper. Make into small meatballs and sauté or roast. Serve sliced with pita wedges or in pita, with lemon, and a dollop of yogurt or tapenade.