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Upgrade Your Brown Bag

Simple Italian pantry staples to enhance your lunch-hour experience.

By: Meghan TutoloItalian Panini

Just because you have to haul your meal to work or school doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice a delicious lunch. While some people stock up on flavorless, sodium-packed frozen dinners, others choose the PB & J route. Now that you are taking the time to pack lunch for the little ones, why not pack your own? We know it requires less thought to request the #6 at a greasy, drive-thru or order a container of bulky, fried noodles. But we’re here to offer up some Italian-inspired, brown bag ideas that keep things simple and most importantly, still tasty.

It’s noon and you’re feeling a salt-attack coming on. Why not grab a container of Calamatas? Or pack a crusty, Italian roll and an olive tapenade, or spread. If you’re not into olives, there are many other grab-and-go antipasti to savor in the lunchroom. From marinated mushrooms and roasted garlic (our DeLallo Desensitized Garlic, of course – wouldn’t want to scare the co-workers away), to colorful, savory bruschette made with all fresh ingredients.

While you can always bag up an ordinary sandwich of classic deli meats, try packing an Italian sandwich layered with salami, mortadella and prosciutto. Top with everyday pantry items – sun-dried tomatoes, pepperoncini or our Hot Pepper & Garlic Sauce. We try not to be biased, but some of the best cheeses are Italian; use savory Asiago on your salami sandwich or crumbled gorgonzola on a leafy, arugula salad and upgrade any lunch to a foodie favorite.

Is it cheating to cook extra portions for dinner? No way! How much more effort, or money for that matter, would it take to throw another handful of penne rigate in the pot? So many leftover, Italian meals are packable – from pasta dishes like Three Cheese Lasagna and Pasta Aglio Olio with Soy Sauce to no-heat entrees like Panzanella or Orzo & Arugula Salad.

Whatever you do, be inventive. For instance, why not use our Greek Feta Salad (a marinated combination of feta and green and black Calamatas) to top a salad or pizza from dinner the previous night? Though you might have to skip the Sherry, try pears and our Blue Cheese Stuffed Olives for a simple, yet delectable mid-day treat.

The days are long enough – don’t rob yourself of a delicious intermission!