WHAT’S IN YOUR POCKET?
How to Make a Balanced Pocket Food Lunch

How to Make a Balanced Pocket Food Lunch

The best pocket pal is a salad. I love salads. Mack loves salads. We even love boring salads because we love our veggies, but crunchy, juicy, tangy salads are where our salad-loving selves thrive.

Menageries of fruits and veggies are the holy grail of lunch and give us an excuse to eat carb-heavy pocket foods. Salads zhuzh up a brown plate of food and make a square, balanced meal out of hand pies, empanadas or dumplings. They are also a great way to reduce food waste by using up seasonal greens and vegetables, and the means to a quick, healthy, feel-good lunch that doesn’t leave us hungry. Win-win.

How to make a balanced pocket food lunch:

  1. Find your pocket foods. We opted for Cafe Nena’i empanadas during my trip to Austin this past December.

  2. Make a salad. We usually go with whatever greens, citrus, and crunchy things in our kitchen, but this time around we used Naomi Starkman’s recipe for “‘Million Ingredient’ Autumn Salad” from  Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook for inspiration. If you have the book, you can find it on page 96 (or look below for our riffs!) for Naomi Starkman’s “‘Million Ingredient’ Autumn Salad”and never look back.

  3. Eat lunch. Feel good. Pat yourself on the back for eating the rainbow with your empanada.

how to eat the rainbow, photo by Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Naomi Starkman’s “Million Ingredient” Autumn Salad

Salad Ingredients

  • 1 delicata squash, halved, seeded, and cut into ½-inch-thick half-moons

  • 2 tablespoons plus ¼ cup olive oil

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

  • 1 small head frisée (we opted for dino kale)

  • 2 medium endives (about 10 ounces each), halved and cut into ½-inch pieces

  • 1 small head radicchio (about 6 ounces), cored and torn into bite-size pieces

  • 2 Fuyu persimmons, cored and thinly sliced

  • Seeds from 1 large pomegranate

  • ½ cup chopped walnuts (we used pecans)

  • ⅓ cup shaved Manchego cheese

Salad Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Place squash on a baking sheet and toss with the 2 tablespoons olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt.

Roast for 10 minutes. Flip each squash piece, rotate the pan, and roast for 10 minutes more, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ¼ cup olive oil, the vinegar, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste.

On a large serving platter, place half the frisée, endive, and radicchio. Layer on half the persimmons, pomegranate seeds, and squash. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and drizzle the dressing on top. Toss lightly, sprinkle with the walnuts and shaved Manchego, and serve immediately.


Recipe from “Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook” by Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu.

how to make a balanced lunch
how to make a balanced lunch
how to make a balanced lunch
how to make a balanced lunch
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