Rice-based packed lunch ideas with Olive Oil

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Fried rice can broadly be divided into two categories – embellished leftovers and a main event. For rice-based packed lunches, an office microwave is ideal. If your office is unadorned with such technological riches, refrigerate your lunch, but take it out a little while before you eat, so it has time to come to a more palatable temperature. Food safety is key, so as soon as you have cooked your rice dish at home, refrigerate it as quickly as possible.

• Make a batch of simple, veggie paella the night before. Sweat some chopped onion, red and yellow pepper, and pierced cherry tomatoes in olive oil, then add paella rice along with a glug of sherry, a pinch of saffron soaked in warm water, turmeric, smoked paprika and hot veggie stock. Put a lid on and simmer until cooked. Pack along with a lemon wedge and some parsley.

Kedgeree is delicious, but there is a time and a place for it. Fishy rice is best kept away from colleagues for the sake of your career prospects. Eggeree, however, is acceptable (probably): soak rinsed basmati rice in warm water for 30 minutes while you slowly fry a thinly sliced onion with a cinnamon stick and green cardamom seeds in lots of butter or ghee. Add the rice, followed by chilli powder and turmeric, then cover with chicken stock. Put a lid on and leave to simmer until the rice is cooked. Chill, then pack with a couple of chopped boiled eggs and parsley.

Though a founder-member of the yellow/beige food group (see also jacket potatoes and pies), egg fried rice can easily be given a fresh twist with the addition of spring veg. For one portion, finely chop one garlic clove and three spring onions. Wash and dry a small bunch of watercress, ripping off leaves, and chopping thick stems into small bits. Slice half a bunch of asparagus into small, bitesize pieces. Add ½ tbsp olive oil to a wok or large pan on a medium-high heat. Add garlic and spring onion and fry for a minute, until just starting to colour, then add the watercress stalks and asparagus. Cook for another couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. When just about cooked and bright green, add the watercress leaves, one tbsp of tamari, ½ tsp grated ginger, and 70g cooked brown rice. Cook until heated all the way through, then crack in an egg and stir furiously, scrambling, until completely cooked.

• For a super-speedy, fiery takeaway, go Korean and add 75g kimchi to your rice. Buy it from Asian supermarkets, online from websites such as souschef.co.uk, or make your own. Squeeze out as much juice from the kimchi as you can into a bowl, then roughly chop the cabbage. Add a glug of soy sauce and a teeny bit of chilli and sesame oil to the juice. Heat ½ tbsp vegetable oil to a wok or large pan on a medium-high heat. Add the kimchi and 1 grated carrot, then fry for 2 minutes, until the veg begins to colour. Add 70g cooked rice and continue to fry, stirring. When all is well mixed, add the juice mix. Fry until piping hot. Reheat at lunch time, or eat at room temperature, spooned into little gem leaves and topped with sliced cucumber and some shredded chicken.


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