Books & Literature

Cookbook Review: The 5-Minute, 5-Ingredient Lunchbox, by Alexander Hart

52 recipes to streamline your lunch each day according to what you have lying around or can quickly get hold off from your local shop.

Alexander Hart is yet to stop cooking up fast, healthy, delicious lunchbox ideas!

This is the third recipe book in Alexander Hart’s series of fast, healthy lunch ideas and he is yet to stop cooking up ideas.

Using raw or pre-cooked ingredients, the prep time is kept to a minimum so busy people can whip up fast-food lunches without impacting the waistline. Using a maximum of five ingredients, this time Hart offers a selection of ideas using wraps, legumes, noodles, grains, and seeds, with a multicultural focus on simple Bento Boxes warranting its own chapter. For those preferring to keep things completely fresh, an additional chapter to make your own dressings can be used instead of opting for store-bought varieties.

Chris Middleton’s bright photography adds to the kaleidoscope of colour found throughout the pages. The visual impact of the book provides a sense of fun and enthusiasm to explore Hart’s ideas, although once again, there is some concern about colour contrast with choices of orange text on a green background, green on blue, and red on pink. If looking at this otherwise great recipe book as a gift, be sure the recipient has no visual impairments.

The recipes are so simple that there’s minimal words on the page, with instructions clearly broken down into numbered steps of mostly one sentence. In fact, many recipes have only one or two steps listed to the right of the ingredients.

As with the previous two volumes of 5-Minute Lunchbox ideas, this edition is handy to have on hand when looking for what ingredients mix well with others to keep you satisfied.

Persian Couscous Salad (page 66) with a Lemon & Sumac Dressing (page 125)

This is one of those recipes where the dressing can be store-bought or made from scratch. The ingredient list points to the page to make your own Lemon & Sumac dressing, which I did. It was a simple process of mixing an additional five ingredients to pour over the salad when ready to serve. The salad itself is made in just two steps. There is no prep time, unless you shred your own chicken. Olive oil adds some moisture and creaminess to the couscous, with pistachios adding some crunch and mixed dried fruit providing the sweetness. Other ingredients blend well for a mixture of sweet and sour tastes. It’s a nice combination although this is a salad I would prefer to serve as a side dish in the future.

Greek Bento (page 114)

It was a hard choice to land on the Greek Bento Box when eyeing off the Japanese, French, Danish, Italian and other alternatives. Truth is, the Greek Bento won because it included Dolmades, which I haven’t had for some time. Hart’s Bento Boxes are simple fare, where you gather the ingredients and lay them out in the box. His suggestions can easily be altered to suit your taste. In this instance, I left out his suggestion of pickled octopus (simply because I forgot to buy some at the supermarket), and I chose to toast my pita bread. All up, this selection of food was a good combination, encouraging me to try his other Bento Boxes in the near future. Even the all-day breakfast and vegan Bento Boxes look good!

Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Twitter: @StrtegicRetweet

Distributed by: Simon & Schuster Australia
Released: 7 April 2021
RRP: $24.99

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