12 meals to ‘assemble’ when you can’t be bothered to cook

green chickpea salad-3

Let’s face it. Sometimes cooking just isn’t an appealing option.

Whether it’s the middle of Summer and you’re sweltering through a week of 35+C (95+F) days. Or you’re under pressure at work and getting home late and starving night after night.

Or maybe you’re on holidays and keen to take a break from the stove as well as everything else.

Today I want to share with you some of my favourite un-cooking meals. Dishes that don’t require any heat, just assembling and the odd spot of chopping or shaving.

12 meals to ‘assemble’ when you can’t be bothered to cook

1. carrot ribbon salad with pesto
I’d forgotten about this until recently. Just love the combo of crunchy carrot ribbons with flavour-packed pesto.

2. washing up free salad
For days when you definitely don’t want to be doing dishes.

3. cabbage & crispy noodle salad
Lovely little dish that makes the most of the crunch and convenience of commercial ‘fried noodles’.

4. tuna & white bean salad
An oldie but a goodie. I made this last week and was reminded again just how good the simple things can be.

5. tomato, almond & pesto salad
A great little lunch you can even make at work.

6. mixed sprout & avocado salad
Another favourite work lunch.

7. winter ‘slaw
A great little salad that makes the most of two of my favourite Winter veg – brussels sprouts and cabbage.

8. raw broccoli salad
A super-fresh and crunchy favourite of finely chopped raw broccoli teamed with rich avocado. So good.

9. roast beet, lentil & balsamic onion salad
This recipe is an all-time favourite. The only thing is, if you want to keep it in the ‘assemble’ rather than cooking category you’ll need to use canned lentils and shop-bought cooked beets and onions.

10. a few of my favourite things salad
Aka shaved beet and asparagus salad with goats cheese. A brilliant example of where finely slicing vegetables can remove the need to cook.

11. coronation cauliflower
A more unusual dish of finely chopped raw cauliflower tossed in a creamy dressing spiked with a little curry powder. Served with coriander leaves (cilantro) for freshness and almonds for crunch and to make it more substantial.

12. toblerone ice cream
Just because you don’t feel like cooking, doesn’t mean you don’t need something sweet! Also check out this post for 7 other deadly ‘no bake’ desserts.

green chickpea salad

Green Chickpea Salad

serves 2

Canned chickpeas are one of my go-to items when I’m looking for something quick. This salad started out without the chilli or greens but has evolved over the years.

The chilli is very much optional but adds some lovely warmth.

This is a pretty forgiving salad and will keep in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight without any ill effects – so it’s great for work lunches or picnics.

1 small red chilli, finely diced, optional
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or lemon juice
1 can chickpeas (400g / 14oz), drained
1/2 bunch cavalo nero, kale, spinch or silverbeet (chard)
2 handfuls finely grated parmesan

1. Combine chilli, if using, with vinegar or lemon juice and 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Season.

2. Toss chickpeas in the dressing.

3. Slice cavalo nero or kale super finely into shreds, removing the stem if it is too coarse. Toss the shredded greens into the salad with the parmesan.


summery – replace the cavalo nero or kale with a punnet of cherry tomatoes and a few handfuls of torn basil leaves.

dairy-free / vegan – replace the parmesan with finely grated brazil nuts or sliced almonds.

lighter – replace the cavalo nero or kale with a few handfuls of rocket (arugula) or baby spinach.

legume-free – replace the chickpeas with 2-3 hard boiled eggs.

carnivore – serve with finely sliced proscuitto draped over the top.

chicken salad – add in some shredded BBQ chicken as well as or instead of the chickpeas.

other legumes
– replace the chickpeas with other cooked or canned legumes such as lentils, white beans, black beans, split peas or butter beans. You’ll need about 250g (9oz) of cooked legumes.

warm salad – heat chickpeas in a little olive oil in a pan or the microwave before tossing in the salad.


video version of the recipe


With love,
Jules x


  • Those are some lovely and easy sides, but I think they’d leave me starving if I didn’t eat a steak and mashed potato as a mains.

  • great post with some wonderful ideas. I make a raw kale salad with cavolo nero that’s just like this but without the chickpeas. What a wonderful combination. And just by the way, it’s cavolo nero not cavalo:)!

  • Mmmm, the chickpeas and greens sounds really yummy. I often make a cooked version with panfried onions, spinach, a tin of chickpeas and either some parmesan or crumbled fetta on top.

    Great ideas, as usual!

  • I like to work with dried beans, which will keep in the fridge for a week after cooking or are really easy to freeze.

  • I just finished a marathon day with cinnamon rolls for breakfast, pizza and cake for lunch and three young children in tow. I saw this recipe and was surprised to realize I had nearly all the ingredients in my kitchen or garden. I collected some winter chard, traded the sherry vinegar for some apple cider vinegar and left out the red pepper but added some ground black pepper. Great end of the day meal for a beat out mom!

  • I just found your blog, perfect timing as I have been looking for some salad recipes to use for take-to-work lunches. Can’t wait to try some out. thanks

  • Great chickpea salad, thanks for sharing Jules. I’ve made it twice now and prefer it with the Lacinato kale rather than the curly kind. But today that’s all I had on hand. Toasted pine nuts thrown in adds a little crunch. Delicious as is though.

  • I love your simple but innovative recipes, you are a creative genius of ‘taste’.
    Try using fresh coconut gratings instead of the cheese. :)

  • I have been browsing on-line greater than three hours as of late, yet I never discovered any fascinating article like yours. It’s beautiful value enough for me. Personally, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will probably be much more useful than ever before.

  • I just made your chickpea and feta salad (all the way over in S. Africa!) – delish! I didn’t have pine nuts so I toasted some sunflower seeds and added those. I didn’t have any salad leaves either, so I chopped up a celery stick instead. I also then had an aubergine in the fridge which I grilled and cut up and added. It basically got my creative juices flowing and I realised that with chickpeas, lemon juice and olive oil as your base, you can basically add anything for variation and create some really yummy combinations for a lunch-time salad. Thanks SO much for the inspiration, I find lunches SUCH a bore so am LOVING your recipes. I’m going to share this on my blog for my followers :-)

  • Love this meals, It gives me SO MUCH satisfaction to successfully make a meal out of all the things in my fridge that *need* to be used up asap

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