A Bite Inspired by… Work Lunch:
I truly believe that every difficult experience we face teaches us something important about ourselves. I experienced this first hand when my first job out of college, a job I absolutely hated, led me to discover a passion for public policy. Long, hard days at the office require a delicious, filling, and healthy lunch, so you can be at your best. My Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Pasta is delicious and chock-full of flavorful ingredients! Pack this lunch for work (or school) and I promise it’ll make your work day a little more enjoyable.
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Who hated their first job? If you did, you have my utmost sympathy. I know what it feels like. I, too, was a victim of the crappy first job. First jobs are tough. A lot of us don’t know what we want to do straight out of school and with the job market being as saturated as it is, we’re honestly just shocked/thankful that someone hired us to begin with. Never mind, if it’s something we’re passionate about or not. Just show me the money, so I can move out of my parents’ house.
That was pretty much the story of my first job. I graduated with a degree in International Relations and ended up applying for every job I was even remotely qualified for. This landed me into the office of an extremely cranky (read: downright mean) divorce and probate lawyer. The 3 months I worked there were some of the worst of my life. My boss was rude to me, the commute was long, and I didn’t enjoy the work.
Lucky for me, every gray cloud has a silver lining. I was so miserable at my job that I was constantly in search of ways to escape. I knew I wanted to go to graduate school at some point, but I didn’t know what I wanted to study. So, I spent every single lunch hour sitting at my desk in the office researching master’s programs. This is how I came across a little something called a Master of Public Policy. It had everything I wanted in a career path: qualitative research, statistical analysis, policy writing, and, most importantly, I could help a lot of people.
My mind was made up. I spent every work lunch studying for the GREs and filling out my applications. It was exhausting. I worked all day for my boss, spent my lunch break on applications, commuted home, and collapsed. It was all worth it though. In just a few months, I got accepted into my top choice Master of Public Policy program and was able to leave my job. A modern day Cinderella story, right? 😉
Since I spent every lunch hour at my desk, I always brought my lunch from home. I had super long days, so I needed something healthy and filling. One of my favorite go-to work lunches was my Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Pasta. This lunch has everything you need to fuel your work day: protein, carbs, veggies, and amazing flavor!
The grilled chicken is simple, but packed with flavor. Sake is my secret weapon for infusing delicious flavor into poultry quickly with minimal ingredients. Cooking sake is available at Asian grocery and liquor stores, but if you have trouble locating it, Amazon sells a good one that you can get here. The pasta is filled with colorful and savory ingredients: olive oil, garlic, sundried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, baby spinach, and a touch of feta cheese. These flavors are super fresh and complement each other extremely well. Sitting in my tiny office cubicle eating this pasta transported me, even just for a brief second, out of that dreary office. Suddenly, I was in Greece or Italy, enjoying this pasta overlooking the water. After that, the work day didn’t seem so bad (only 5 more hours to go!)
This dish packs really well and tastes just as good the next day making it the ideal lunch for work or school. Just pack the pasta and chicken together in a food container (the LunchBots Clicks Stainless Steel Food Container is fabulous!) . Then, pack the feta cheese in a separate small container and sprinkle it on at lunch. Super easy! The best thing about this lunch is that you can enjoy it hot or cold. It’s delicious both ways!
Even though, I don’t work an office job anymore, I still make this pasta at least once a week for lunch or dinner. It’s just so simple and delicious. This recipe serves one, but you can easily double it or quadruple it to feed more. If this lunch could make my difficult work day at that law office more tolerable, it’s pretty much a miracle worker. Even if you love your job, tough or boring days are bound to arise. This easy work lunch will give you that break you’re looking for, no matter how hard you’re working. Enjoy at work, home, or school to make your day delicious and a little bit brighter. You deserve it! 😃
- For the grilled chicken:
- 1 chicken breast
- 2 teaspoons sake
- 1 clove garlic, cut in half
- Cooking oil
- Salt and pepper
- For the pasta:
- 1 cup cooked penne pasta
- 2 sundried tomatoes in oil, sliced
- 2 teaspoons Kalamata olives, sliced
- ¼ cup baby spinach
- 2 teaspoons feta cheese
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Put chicken breast on a plate. Rub each side of the chicken with a garlic clove half. Discard garlic.
- Pour sake over the chicken breast and turn chicken over a few times, so the sake covers all sides. Season both sides generously with salt and pepper.
- Heat a lightly oiled grill pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add chicken to the grill and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side, turning once, until cooked through.
- While the chicken is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add minced garlic to the pan and cook for 1 minute until fragrant, stirring occasionally.
- Add the sundried tomatoes and olives to the pan. Cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
- Add cooked pasta to the pan. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes.
- Add baby spinach. Cook for 30 seconds or less until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove from heat. Put pasta on a plate and add chicken breast on top. Top with feta cheese. Enjoy!