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Brighten Up Lunch With Kathy Gunst

Running out of ideas for lunch? Here & Now Resident Chef Kathy Gunst joins Jeremy Hobson and Robin Young in the studio with tips and recipes — from soups and sandwiches to drinks — to brighten up the midday meal.

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See more Kathy Gunst recipes

Green Goddess Dressing

Note: An herb and yogurt-rich dressing to make any salad just a bit more exciting. The dressing will keep for about 3 days. From Kathy Gunst’s “Notes from a Maine Kitchen.”

Makes about 1 cup.


1 ½ tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped

3 scallions, ends trimmed, chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 cup thick Greek-style yogurt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


In the container of blender or food processor, blend the basil, chives and parsley. Add the yogurt, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper, lemon or oil as needed. Place in a glass jar and cover; refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Homemade Ginger Ale or Ginger Tea

Kathy’s Note: You can make this syrup and keep covered in the refrigerator for about two weeks. Mix a few tablespoons with seltzer for a homemade healthy ginger soda or add hot water to make ginger tea.

Makes about 3 cups ginger syrup.


1 ½ounces ginger, peeled and chopped

3 ½ cups water

1/3 cup honey


In a medium saucepan mix the ginger, water and honey. Heat over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for an hour. Strain the syrup and keep in a covered jar in the refrigerator.

White Bean Crostini and Rosemary Dip

Kathy’s Note: Transforming canned white beans into a silky smooth, flavorful dip can happen in just a matter of minutes. Simply sauté garlic in olive oil, add the beans and scallions and puree. Bring the dip for lunch with pita bread or cut up vegetables like carrots, fennel and carrots and red pepper strips.


One 15-ounce can white beans, drained, rinsed, and drained again

2 ½ tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 scallions, chopped

1 ½ tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped

1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over low heat. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the scallion and cook 2 minutes, stirring. Add the beans, rosemary, lemon juice, salt and pepper stir well, and cook 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and place the mixture into the container of a food processor. Blend until almost smooth. Remove, and taste for seasoning. (The bean puree can be made 24 hours ahead of time; cover and refrigerate.)

Back to Work/School Soup

Kathy’s Note: This is a simple soup that uses all kinds of vegetables to make a soothing comforting soup that is perfect to bring to work or school for lunch. Pack it in a thermos and add croutons or grated cheese packed on the side.

You can use any type of vegetables you like, substituting summer squash, spinach, greens etc. You can make this with chicken broth and cooked chicken or use vegetable stock for a vegetarian version.

Serves 4 to 6.


1 ½ tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 leek, white part only, chopped

1 large carrot, finely chopped

2 ribs celery, finely chopped

1 cup peeled and cubed winter squash

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried

1 cup finely chopped ripe tomato, or canned tomato

5 cups chicken or vegetable broth

About 1 cup cooked cubed chicken, optional

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional


In a medium soup pot heat the oil over low heat. Add the onion, garlic, and leek and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the carrot, celery, squash, salt, pepper and basil and cook 5 minutes. Add the tomato and cook another minute or two. Raise the heat to high and add the broth; bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the soup is flavorful. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more basil, if desired.



Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

A perfectly delicious lunch by Kathy Gunst: “green goddess” salad dressing, a thermos of soup, home made ginger ale and zucchini bread sandwich. (Qainat Khan/Here & Now)
A perfectly delicious lunch by Kathy Gunst: “green goddess” salad dressing, a thermos of soup, home made ginger ale and zucchini bread sandwich. (Qainat Khan/Here & Now)

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