Lunch Recipes: Grilled Chicken & Italian Pasta Salad

How much money do you spend on lunch each week? Are you throwing your calories away for greasy burgers and flavorless, sodium-filled combo platters? Having plenty of experience in the office life, I know too well what it's like to blow way too much money on a lunch that is not only terrible for you but not even satisfying. We'll be introducing a few lunch recipes that will have your mouth watering as you drop that greasy burrito back down to it's soggy wrapper. What's great about these recipes is that they can be prepared as dinner with intentional leftovers or along with dinner the night before so that you don't have to put in extra work. 

Thanks to the lovely people at Box Appetit, we were able to try out several "lunch boxes" that are environmentally friendly, reusable and affordable. These babies are more than just your typical brown bag. They have dividers and pockets to separate the main course from the side and carry dips, dressing or other loose condiments. The recipe today, Grilled Chicken & Italian Pasta Salad, fits perfectly into the Bento Box with a side of apricot halves (my favorite fruit). The Eau Good water bottle is a great way to get in your daily hydration without the guilt of plastic bottles. It also comes with an active charcoal filter that purifies the water and adds natural minerals making it taste great. Check out the Box Appetit website for a full list of products.

This recipe is a fantastic idea for quick dinners and there's minimal mess. The chicken can be grilled or baked in the foil packet. Because it's cooked individually, it can easily be adapted for one or four people. Simply use as many chicken breasts for the amount of people you are feeding. The pasta salad recipe below feeds two but you can double it to feed four. Just a warning, these are not little portions. We love pasta in my family so it's more like the pasta is a main dish and the pasta a side. The great thing about this pasta salad is that the noodle to veggie ratio is about 1:3. No need to feel bad.

The pasta salad features spring veggies but you can easily substitute any that you have floating around in the fridge. Cucumber and celery add freshness and a nice crunch. The tomatoes are sweet, olives salty. It's a great combination for a spring or summer dish. I would recommend blanching the yellow squash in leftover pasta water before incorporating them into the mix. Instead of eating raw squash, it will lightly cook them, enhance the flavor and even bringing out a little sweetness.

1 Chicken Breast
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
salt and pepper

For the Pasta Salad:
1 cup Fusilli Pasta
1/2 Cucumber, cut in 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup Celery, chopped
1/2 cup Cherry Tomatoes, halved
8 Asparagus Stalks, quartered
1/2 cup Black Olives, sliced
1/2 Yellow Squash, cut in 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons Fresh Basil, roughly chopped
salt and pepper

1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Brush the chicken breast with olive oil. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Wrap in tin foil, place on the grill and let cook for 20-25 minutes. Unwrap and let sit for a few minutes.

2. While the chicken is cooking, heat a medium-sized pot of water over high heat to boiling. Add pasta and cook till al dente. Drain, reserving the pasta water. Bring the water back to a boil and add the yellow squash for 3-4 minutes, lightly cooking the vegetable.

3. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add pasta and veggies. Toss well to coat fully. Add in the chopped basil and toss lightly to incorporate. Serve alongside the chicken.

Box Appetit carries a wide range of products to make your daily lunch healthier and easier to handle. All the "lunch boxes" have special features and even come with a fork or spork that have their own little attachment. They pack well and some event get smaller when they're not filled with food. Just wait until next week's recipe!

What is your lunch ritual? Do you bring your own or opt for eating out?