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10 Lunch Ideas and Recipes to Refresh Your Midday Routine

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Not the same old sandwich for lunch.

Need some new lunch ideas to refresh your midday meal? Look no further. These lunch recipes cover all the bases, and will leave you happy and well-fed. 

3 baguette sandwiches jambon beurre goat cheese pan bagnant on paper mat

Sometimes it seems like dinner gets all the love and attention. Dinner feels like the main event: the focus of cookbooks and cooking shows, the meal we host dinner parties and holidays around, the event that marks the end of a long work day.  But lunch, our most important break in our day, deserves love, too. Here are 10 of Unpeeled’s best lunch ideas and recipes to refresh your midday routine.

Best Lunch Ideas and Recipes: Better Sandwiches

1. Three Classic French Baguette Sandwiches

Au revoir, PB&J. These three French baguette sandwiches represent some of the best of what you’d find in a French boulangerie, including the ultimate classic, jambon beurre (ham and butter), and the world’s ultimate tuna sandwich, pan bagnant.

3 Classic French Baguette Sandwiches - UnpeeledJournal

2. Smoked Salmon + Cucumber Smørrebrod

Cured salmon, cucumber, and cream cheese are one of life’s great flavor combinations. This cured salmon cucumber smørrebrod recipe holds the great distinction of being a chic, no-cook breakfast or lunch that takes minutes to prepare.

cured cured salmon cucumber smorrebrod toast on wooden board with garnishes cucumber smorrebrod toast on wooden board with garmishes

3. Cucumber Sandwiches

These charming little traditional cucumber tea sandwiches are perfect for teatime or for a light lunch. This recipe was adapted from the Ritz London.

Cucumber Sandwich Recipe

4. Melted Tomato Ricotta Bruschetta

This melted grape tomato bruschetta is everything you’ll want to eat right now. Grape tomatoes are made even sweeter by roasting them until jammy, spooned on top of crusty grilled artisan bread, a smear of fresh ricotta, and balsamic syrup.

plates of tomato bruschetta with ricotta

5. A Truly Great Grilled Cheese Sandwich

A good grilled cheese should be melty, crisp, buttery, and never burnt. Here are your 5 essential steps to cooking up a perfect grilled cheese sandwich.

lunch idea grilled sandwich

6. Classic Egg Salad

Egg salad is the white linen sundress of salad: simple, classic, and vaguely elegant in a low-key, casual way. I am an egg salad true believer, especially when the egg salad comes loaded with fresh herbs. This is a great recipe.

egg salad on toast with greens lunch recipe

7. Southern Tomato Sandwich

These really shine in summer. This could not be more simple, or more delicious: juicy, thick-cut tomato slices on soft bread with mayo. That’s it, but that’s enough.

Southern Tomato Sandwich: Authentic Recipe

Best Non-Sandwich Lunch Ideas and Recipes

8. Ham + Cheese Galette Complète

No one does ham, egg, and cheese like the French. An authentic buckwheat galette layered with ham, melted Gruyère and a runny egg makes one of the best simple yet sophisticated meals around.

ham egg and cheese buckwheat galette on plate with salad

9. Chinese Peanut Sesame Noodles

Chinese peanut sesame noodles are a popular takeout dish for a reason. (Though not as popular as General Tso’s chicken or egg rolls, according to this survey.) Tasty warm or chilled, the flavor of sesame and a touch of peanut butter are mild, but nonetheless perfectly flavorful, especially when combined with bright scallion.

bowl of asian Chinese sesame noodles with peanut butter

10. Ayurvedic Chickpea Kitchari

Make a pot of this nourishing, nutritious Indian rice and vegetable stew and enjoy it all week long. This Ayurvedic chickpea kitchari recipe combines wholesome legumes with vegetables, brown rice, and spices for an easy, flavorful one-pot stew.

bowl of chickpea kitchari with cilantro and spinach on top for dinner

11. Easy Tomato Orzo Soup

There are so many wonderful tomato soup recipes out there, but for pure ease and comfort, I choose this easy tomato orzo soup recipe, adapted from living culinary goddess Ina Garten’s recipe.

bowl of tomato orzo soup with croutons and bread with spoon

12. Japanese Salmon Rice Bowls

An onigiri-inspired Japanese grain bowl of seasoned sushi rice, salt-broiled salmon, and edamame, with help from top chef Masaharu Morimoto. Filling and fresh.

Japanese salmon edamame grain bowl

baguette sandwich recipes for jambon beurre, chevre tomate, and pan bagnant

3 Classic French Baguette Sandwich Recipes

Bring a little "oh la la" to lunch with these easy, essential recipes for classic French baguette sandwiches, from simple to special. All are delicious and authentically French.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Pan Bagnant Resting Time8 hours
Course: lunch
Cuisine: French
Keywords:: baguette, baguette sandwich, French, French sandwich, lunch, no-cook, pan bagnat, sandwich, tuna
Servings: 1 baguette sandwich
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Ingredients

Jambon Beurre (Ham and Butter) Baguette Sandwich

  • 1 fresh, crusty baguette
  • 3 tablespoons best-quality softened butter (salted cultured butter or grass fed would be good options)
  • 1/2 pound French-style ham, sliced
  • 1/2 pound Emmental or Gruyère cheese, sliced by hand into thin triangles
  • Cornichons or a few leaves of lettuce (optional)

Chèvre Tomate (Simple Tomato and Goat Cheese Sandwich)

  • 1 fresh, crusty baguette
  • 1 or 2 ripe fresh tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/3 pound bloomy rind goat cheese, such as Bucheron
  • 1/3 pound French-style ham, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • 1 small handful of fresh arugula, optional
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, optional

Pan Bagnat: For the Vinaigrette

  • 1 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (just eyeball it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 turns fresh black pepper
  • 2 anchovies
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot (about 1/2 of one shallot clove)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Pan Bagnat: For the Baguette Sandwich

  • 1 fresh, crusty baguette
  • 1 6.7 ounce jar of Italian oil-packed tuna, drained
  • 1/2 bell pepper, red or green, sliced very thin
  • 1 small handful raw haricots verts or green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces.
  • 1 large handful arugula (about 1 ounce)
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
  • 10 to 12 pitted black olives, preferably Niçoise, chopped
  • 1 tomato, sliced

Instructions

For the Jambon Beurre Baguette Sandwich

  • Slice the baguette in half lengthwise, almost all the way through, and open.
  • Slather both sides with the butter. Layer with the ham and cheese slices. If using, add in a few halved cornichons or lettuce leaves, such as arugula. Close, press, and divide into two or three sandwiches.

For the Tomato Goat Cheese

  • Slice the baguette in half lengthwise, almost all the way through, and open. Drizzle the top and bottom baguette halves with olive oil.
  • Slice the tomato slices in half, so they are in half moons. Slice the goat cheese into thin rounds, then slice them in half into half moons.
  • If using, layer arugula, then ham onto the bottom of the sandwich. Then add alternating slices of tomato and goat cheese along the length of the sandwich.
  • Sprinkle with herbes de Provence. Close the baguette, press, and divide into halves or thirds.

For the Pan Bagnat

  • Make the Vinaigrette: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the parsley, vinegar, Dijon, salt, pepper, anchovies, shallot, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Whisk until emulsified.
  • Slice the baguette in half lengthwise, almost all the way through, and open. Drizzle the top and bottom baguette halves with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • To the vinaigrette, add the tuna, bell pepper, haricots verts, and arugula. Stir to mix well. The tuna will break apart somewhat.
  • Spread the tuna mixture along the bottom half of the baguette. Layer the sliced hard-boiled egg and olives atop the tuna mixture.
  • Sprinkle with herbes de Provence. Close the baguette, press hard, and let rest for 2 to 24 hours, preferably weighted down.
    Tip: Suggestions for weighing down the pan bagnat: the bottom of a cast-iron skillet, or sheet pan with heavy cookbooks on it. Slice into halves or thirds, and serve.
    Note: If the sandwich will rest for more than two hours, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Before serving, allow to return to near room temperature.

3 comments

  • Michelle

    5 stars
    I am not a huge fan of sandwiches, which dates back to grade school. However, the Pan Bagnat sandwich is delicious and not soggy. The Pan Bagnat has made me a fan of sandwiches. Definitely worth the extra effort.

    • Unpeeled

      Hi, Michelle and thanks so much! I am sooo with you about the general meh feeling about sandwiches, which is why — if I do eat one — I want it to be really good. I am so glad you liked it! Definitely a little more work than a PB&J, but it really is special. Thanks for the note.

  • 5 stars
    Jambon beurre = perfection.

4.84 from 12 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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