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Take-Along Cold Lunches

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Rose Mary's mother and all of her aunts are great Southern cooks. She likes to think she's not so bad herself.

I love having a collection of recipes to draw from for cold salads to take along to work. I have worked in places where we had a full kitchen. I’m an occupational therapist, and it used to be the standard for occupational therapy clinics to have a full-sized working kitchen. Through the years, the kitchens shrank, and sometimes disappeared. It was often a wait for the toaster oven or microwave in the break room. Sometimes the microwave was far enough away as to be an unattractive option. So having a cold take-along lunch is often the best plan. All you need is a small insulated lunch bag, a small ‘blue ice’ block, and a tasty cold take-along salad. Of course, you can enjoy a cold lunch at home as well, or make interesting cold salads for side dishes.

Cold lunch salads in this article:

  • Black Bean, Corn, Red Pepper and Avocado
  • Three Amigos
  • Ukrainian Salat Vinaigrette
  • Beets, Artichoke, and Tomato
  • Re-Imagined Caprese
  • Hearts of Palm
  • Cantaloupe and Corn
  • Tomato, Avocado and Chickpea
  • Greek Garbanzo Bean
  • Greek Pasta Salad
  • Macaroni Slaw
  • Potato Beet
  • Southwestern Black Bean & Corn
  • Cannellini and Tuna
  • Panzanella
  • Chinese Chicken Salad
  • Crunchy Asian Ramen Noodle
Black bean salad with corn, red pepper and avocado

Black bean salad with corn, red pepper and avocado

Black Bean, Corn, Red Pepper, and Avocado

This delicious and visually pleasing salad is from Once Upon a Chef website. Makes 4 large portions, or 6-8 small sides.


  • 3 cups cooked black beans (I soaked and cooked dried black beans, then drained and measured 3 cups, but you can use 2 cans of rinsed and drained beans)
  • 3 ears corn, cut from the cob (original recipe calls for corn cut from the cob after cooking, but I like it raw)
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced small
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ c good quality olive oil
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 1/3 Tbsp lime juice
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 avocados cut into ½” cubes


  1. Wisk olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, garlic, salt, sugar, and cayenne together in a medium bowl.
  2. Add beans, corn, red pepper, shallots, and cilantro, and mix well.
  3. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
  4. Add avocado before serving, stirring gently to mix throughout your salad.
Grapefruit, Mango, and Avocado Salad, aka Three Amigos

Grapefruit, Mango, and Avocado Salad, aka Three Amigos

Three Amigos

This combination of grapefruit, mango, and avocado is known as Three Amigos Salad, and can be found on many recipe sites, like


  • 2 large avocados
  • 2 mangos
  • 2 grapefruits
  • 1 lime


  1. Cut mango and avocado into ½” cubes.
  2. Peel and remove section skin from grapefruit. Cut each grapefruit section into 3-4 pieces.
  3. Place mango and grapefruit pieces into a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  4. Squeeze lime over mango and grapefruit, and stir to coat.
  5. Add avocado and stir gently to mix in with other fruit, and to coat with lime juice. Be careful not to mash avocado.
Ukraine Vegetable Salad

Ukraine Vegetable Salad

Ukrainian Salat Vinaigrette

I came across this vegetable salad recipe in All Recipes magazine.


  • 1 lb pkg cooked beets, or 2 cans beets, drained and cut into small cubes
  • 1 lb diced potatoes cooked and drained, or 2 cans drained diced potatoes
  • 1 lb diced carrots, cooked and drained, or 2 cans drained diced carrots
  • 2 lg dill pickles, diced; I prefer Claussen’s
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 8 oz cooked, drained green peas
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, optional


  1. Place chopped vegetables and pickles in a large bowl.
  2. Add oil, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
  3. Garnish with parsley before serving if desired.
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Beets, Artichoke, and Tomato Salad

Beets, Artichoke, and Tomato Salad

Beets, Artichoke, and Tomato

As I recall, I served this dish at a luncheon I prepared for two of my vegetarian cousins. I was trying to come up with a big spread with as many vegetarian dishes as possible. I made this from ingredients I had on hand.


  • 1 can sliced beets, or 3-4 med-small peeled cooked beets
  • 1 small jar artichoke hearts, water packed or marinated
  • 3 med tomatoes
  • Balsamic dressing


  1. Cut beets into bite-sized pieces. I cut into half moons or quarter slices.
  2. Cut artichokes into quarters.
  3. Cut tomatoes into wedges.
  4. Place all vegetables into a bowl and toss with balsamic vinegar. I like Good Seasons Italian dressing made with balsamic vinegar. My sister likes Paul Newman.
  5. Serve cold.