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5 Healthy Lunch Ideas From The World’s Greatest Chefs

Written by the YesChef staff

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YesChef Francis Mallmann Desktop
YesChef Francis Mallmann Desktop
Francis Mallmann
Teaches his Argentine Cuisine
Lunchtime can be a challenging meal for many of us. With busy lifestyles, it can be difficult to find healthy, easy, and delicious lunch ideas. While the most popular type of lunch is the sandwich (Common examples include the turkey or grilled cheese sandwich, the chicken salad sandwich or tuna sandwich, and the egg salad sandwich) there are so many healthy lunch ideas that do not involve sandwiches. If you are looking for some fresh ideas for your healthy lunch meals, this article has got you covered. We will discuss five healthy lunch ideas – some light, others hearty – inspired by cuisines from different parts of the world. Each of these meals is easy to prepare, delicious to eat, and are packed with healthy vegetables, fruits, and herbs. They include: Lettuce Salad; Watermelon and Feta Salad; Tamarind Dal and Rice; Shakshuka; and the Tortilla Española, also known as a Spanish omelette. Read on to find out more about these healthy lunch recipes, including tips from some of the world’s best chefs on how to make and serve them.
Francis Mallmann
Teaches his Argentine Cuisine

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Lettuce Salad: Simple Yet Noble

A classic combination of lettuce and tomatoes is a great option for a light and healthy lunch. Lettuce and tomato salads are centered around vegetables, making them one of the best options for a healthy lunch that is low in calories. Lettuce is a great source of vitamins A, C, and K as well as folate and manganese, and tomatoes are rich in vitamins A and C, as well as antioxidants. Chef Francis Mallmann doesn’t like salads that are busy and cramped on a plate. Instead, he leans towards the generosity of space. This simple salad recipe calls for iceberg lettuce, red wine vinegar, tomatoes, lemon, parsley, salt, olive oil, and a secret ingredient that brings a surprising herbaceous taste: Celery leaves. The celery leaves add complexity and a zesty kick. This salad is best served cold and is a great accompaniment to any meal, or as a light lunch on its own. There are all sorts of ways to make a fresh salad with lettuce and tomatoes for lunch. For example, you can use different kinds of greens, from romaine and iceberg lettuce to spinach and arugula. And there are many different ways to flavor your lunch salad using seasonings, dressings, seeds, and vegetables. Follow Francis’s recipe, or be inspired and make his simple salad your own. Here are some ideas from our home cooks:

  • Toss together romaine lettuce, halved cherry tomatoes, diced red onions, and croutons. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Slice iceberg lettuce into thin strips and combine with diced tomatoes, diced cucumbers, and crumbled feta cheese. Dress and serve this salad with a simple vinaigrette.
  • Layer chopped romaine lettuce, sliced tomato, sliced red onion, and hard boiled egg slices in a bowl. Top the salad with a creamy ranch dressing, and you’ve got a hearty salad packed with veggies that works great as a meal.
  • Mix together with a variety of vegetables: baby spinach, baby kale, diced tomatoes, and diced red bell pepper. Drizzle the salad with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Toss together chopped romaine lettuce, halved grape tomatoes, diced avocado, and toasted sunflower seeds. Dress with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and a pinch of sugar.
But there are no rules; just add to your salad what tastes good. You can use your favorite fresh herbs or a simple flavor like lime juice to your lettuce salad, which can be a great way to brighten up the flavor of the salad and give it a tangy citrus taste. You can also make a dressing using ingredients such as sesame oil and soy sauce. You can add a protein to your recipe like grilled chicken, shrimp, smoked salmon, white beans, black beans, or a hard boiled egg. You can sprinkle crumbled pita chips onto your salad to add crunchiness to it. And you can serve and eat it with your favorite vegetables and fruits, from sun dried tomatoes and bell peppers to apple slices, beets, and avocado.

Watermelon and Feta Salad

This summer salad is a quick and delicious way to enjoy a light, healthy, and refreshing lunch. Simple, sweet, and salty, this is a unique salad that is served cold and packed with fresh flavors. Israeli chef Erez Komarovsky’s Watermelon and Feta Salad with Purslane is a delicious take on this warm-weather dish. In his recipe, Erez uses local, seasonal ingredients including a watermelon, feta cheese, purslane leaves, olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper. The salad is a wonderful contrast of textures and flavors: the sweetness and crunchiness of the watermelon; the softness of the cheese and of the leaves. To make the salad, Erez first chooses a perfectly ripe watermelon (If you hear an echoey sound when you tap the top of the watermelon, you know it is ready, Erez tells us) and cuts the watermelon into bite-sized cubes, keeping only the red part of the fruit. On top of the watermelon cubes he adds his herb, purslane leaves; a little bit of salt; crushed black pepper; and feta cheese that is made out of sheep’s milk. A watermelon and feta salad is a recipe that makes for a highly nutritious lunch. It is a great way to get a good balance of fruit and vegetables in one meal. Watermelons are packed with vitamins A, B6, and C and can help you stay hydrated while feta is a delicious source of calcium, protein, and healthy fats. This salad recipe is also a good source of minerals like magnesium, potassium, and iron.

Tamarind Dal and Rice

Dal and rice is a comforting and healthy lunch meal. Tamarind dal is a type of lentil dish made with tamarind, a tart and tangy or sweet and sour fruit that is used in many South Asian cuisines. It is prepared by boiling lentils with spices, tamarind paste, and sometimes other ingredients such as onion, garlic, ginger, and chili. The dish is usually served with rice or roti, and is often accompanied by other side dishes. Tamarind dal and rice is a popular vegetarian dish with excellent nutritional value. Lentils contain lots of plant based protein, fiber, and B vitamins, while rice is a complex carbohydrate that provides long-lasting energy. This dish is best served hot and is a great way to get all the essential nutrients you need in a delicious meal. Chef Asma Khan, who grew up in Kolkata, India, grew up eating dal, which she says is a humble dish that goes with all sorts of foods and which most Indian families where she’s from will eat every day. “Not having dal on your table is very unusual,” she explains, adding that there are “endless” varieties of dal, which she still cooks as a delicious comfort food to this day. In her restaurant, Asma serves this lentil and rice dish, which is one of her favorite recipes. She loves it for its complex simplicity and sweet and sour flavors. In her YesChef lesson, she explains how to make the base of the dal, how to cook the rice, and how to bloom spices. To make this dish according to Asma’s fantastic recipe, you will need five main ingredients: lentils, rice, tamarind, spices, and tomato puré.

Fiery Shakshuka

Shakshuka is a classic Middle Eastern breakfast dish that also makes for a healthy and hearty lunch. It consists of eggs cooked in a sauce of tomatoes, spices, and onions. To make this dish, you will need tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, eggs, spices, and herbs. Nutritionally, the base of this dish is made with tomatoes and peppers, which are a great source of vitamins A and C. Eggs provide extra protein. To make it, start by heating a cast iron pan, then add the onions, red chili peppers, garlic, and tomatoes. Once the sauce is cooked, add dry spices and crack the eggs into the pan. This dish is best served hot and is a great way to enjoy a nutritious and filling lunch. Shakshuka is best served with pita bread, challah bread, a crusty sourdough bread, or a fluffy flatbread such as naan. Here are some important tips from Erez Komarovsky, a master maker of shakshuka, which he calls “the quintessential Israeli breakfast.” For a deliciously spicy version of this dish, follow Erez’s advice: Add onions and chopped chili peppers into a hot pan without any oil. Dice fresh ripe tomatoes – the sweeter the better – and never use tomatoes that are jarred or canned or concentrated. Add oil and then your garlic and all of your tomatoes into the pan with the flame on high, putting in salt and pepper. Shake the pan and the tomato sauce as it cooks (“Shakshuka” derives from a word that is translated as “Shaken” or “All Mixed Up.”) To ensure that the shakshuka doesn’t burn, add olive oil while it cooks. Add the eggs, being careful to leave the eggs soft and not overcook them.

Tortilla Española

A tortilla española – not to be confused with the Mexican corn tortilla – is a traditional Spanish omelette that is packed with flavor and can be  perfect for a healthy, tasty, and satisfying lunch. Hearty and delicious, this dish is made with eggs and potatoes, which are great sources of protein and complex carbohydrates. The dish, which can be served either hot or cold, is popular throughout Spain and is served as both an afternoon snack and as a meal. It is also a common tapa in many Spanish bars and restaurants. In Argentina, which is heavily influenced by Spanish cuisine, it’s common to find the tortilla at almost every bodegón (Argentine cantina). Even though chef Francis Mallmann has made many tortillas in his life, he says he only understood the true technique of the tortilla a few years ago when he observed a Spanish lady making it. Now, he shares this favorite tortilla recipe with you. While it’s possible to use any onions available, Francis’ secret is combining three types of onions. He also shares tips on how to flip a tortilla and cook it perfectly. Here are some of Francis’ main tips and suggestions to making the perfect tortilla española:
  • Don’t cut the potatoes into pieces too big (they won’t cook and will wind up raw) or too small (they won’t be substantial enough to eat).
  • Cook your potatoes and onions together slowly and on low heat, tossing them around the pan every three or four minutes. You don’t want them to color or become overcooked.
  • Pour the potato and onion mixture into your egg batter, mix it all together, and then return them together to the stovetop. This method is superior, Francis says, to simply tossing the eggs directly into the pan with the onions and potatoes.
  • Do not overcook your eggs; keep them a little runny, Francis recommends, so that you can dip your bread into it
  • Once out of the pan, punch little holes on top of the tortilla to allow the oil and the vinegar to seep inside the tortilla, thus enhancing the taste.


Fresh, healthy, and delicious lunches are essential for a balanced diet and one’s overall well-being. And sandwiches are not the only game in town when it comes to making a lunch packed with flavor. With the right ingredients and a few minutes of preparation, all sorts of delicious and nutritious meals can be made in no time.

The five recipes discussed in this article are a great way to get some inspiration for your next healthy lunch. From a fresh salad to a tortilla española to Indian lentils and rice, these recipes are packed with vegetables and nutrients and are sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. So the next time you are looking for some easy lunch ideas, try one of these recipes for your meal.

Ensalada Mixta - Lettuce & Tomato Salad




YesChef Francis Mallmann Desktop
YesChef Francis Mallmann Desktop

Francis Mallmann

Francis Mallmann, the pioneer of open-fire cooking, is South America’s most famous chef and is known for his rustic open-fire cooking style in wild and remote locations. Join the James Beard award-winning author and Chef’s Table star as he brings you on a journey into his kitchen in the Patagonian wild where he teaches you how to master the grill and his Argentine-style barbecue.

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