Ah, the office lunch. If you’re anything like me, yours consist of leftovers you were already feeling guilty about eating last night*, a sad mashup of vending machine fare, or a salad that never quite hits the spot. Without much time to breach the perimeter of fast food that surrounds the Sur La Table corporate office (horsey sauce to the left, billions served to the right), I often find myself in a pickle if I want to eat something healthy and best served on a plate.
So, imagine my delight when one of our product buyers offered me some of our customer-favorite Lékué microwave cookware to try out. Lékué is known for being microwave magic— easy-to-use, silicone cookware that makes otherwise-complicated dishes a snap. One-pot steam cookers for the microwave, basically. Suddenly a world of dinner-for-lunch was available to me, all within walking distance of my desk! And with minimal effort or time involved to boot! That’s my kind of cooking.
To decide what to make, I took a stroll through the Lékué recipes on surlatable.com. I landed on Salmon with Bacon and Onions for my loaner Steamer Case, because it sounded like a fancy lunch departure, I’m a big Omega-3 fan, and we all know how I feel about bacon. Besides, what co-worker doesn’t enjoy the arresting aroma of fish cooking in the office microwave?
For the Rice & Grain Steamer, which apparently also works great for oatmeal and brought back childhood memories of this thing, I opted for a summer rice and vegetable medley, but decided to use quinoa instead. What can I say? I like to live on the edge.
Before we get to how lunch turned out, I should mention that I did have some doubt around making anything in the microwave worth blogging about. What was this silicone stuff? Would the food just taste… blasted? Would the omegas survive the robot cooking process? Was microwave cooking even safe? What would become of the bacon? With my previous microwave experience limited to after-school nachos in junior high (#lifehighlight) and an occasional warm-up on coffee, it was clear that I needed to brush up on the facts.
I did a little research (Lékué’s 10 Golden Rules of Microwave Cooking — excellent beach read) and learned that a) Yes, microwave cooking is safe. So says science! In related news, it’s not 1986 anymore. b) Lékué is made of food-grade BPA-and-PFOA-free platinum silicone that meets FDA standards, and c) foods cooked in Lékué retain nutrients and require minimal oil since they’re steam-cooked. Safe AND healthy! Twin qualities of Food You Want to Put Into Your Mouth.
With that assurance and a small bag of groceries in tow, it was time to get cooking. Here’s how it went:
Cooking time: 15 minutes for the quinoa, 7 minutes for the salmon. We have multiple microwaves in our office, so I was able to cook both at once.
Cleanup: Dishwasher and done.
The verdict: SO GOOD. I’m not just saying that because I work for Sur La Table and also might be angling for a columnist gig at Microwave Monthly. It was the restaurant lunch I wish I had time for during workdays, minus the restaurant (and the martini). Sure, I worried a few times that things were going to explode in the microwave, but old habits and a deeply engrained propensity for anxiety die hard. Everything tasted perfectly steamed and fresh. Comments from co-workers included, “You made all that in those two things?” “Tastes amazing!” “You cooked that in the microwave?” “Why does it smell like fish in here?” and, my personal favorite, “I feel like I’m going to smell like this room forever.” I’d call that a success!
My only complaint, and it’s a minor one, is that while the bacon added a distinctly awesome, bacon-y note to the salmon during their seven minutes together, it was a bit soft. The steam struggle is real. If I had to do it again, I’d cook half with the fish for flavor, half using the old paper-towel method and add it as a topping. Otherwise, everything hit the mark texture-wise: the salmon was moist and flaky; the quinoa fluffy and the veggies just right; the leeks I subbed in for onions tasted sautéed, even though I used didn’t use any butter and only a quick drizz(™) of EVOO.
In summary, because I feel like I need to end this at some point, I am now a Lékué believer (my co-workers swiftly rejected “Lékuiever,” but I’m the boss of this post). Sure, I’ll still hit the vending machine from time to time when I’m extra busy, didn’t shop for ingredients, or just feel like a mid-day Twix, but this stuff is a lunchtime game changer for me. I never thought I’d have time for this kind of good, healthy, made-from-scratch food at work. And, as if that weren’t enough, I hear you can make cheesecake in it. Dreams really do come true.
Have you used Lékué? What’s your favorite recipe if so? If not, what’s your go-to workday lunch?
*No apologies for deep-fried crab rangoons. I am who I am!