• Yield: Serves 4

  • Time: 20 minutes total

A DIY lunch, especially one with edible dinnerware in the form of vegetable wraps, is soul-satisfying comfort food for me. Filling but not at all heavy—just on flavor—it works both inside and outside of the box for away and at home. This lunch box easily transforms to be vegetarian. See the Lunch Note for the perfect plant-based protein replacement.


  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil

  • 1 lb ground chicken or 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts pulsed in a food processor until minced

  • 2 Chinese eggplants, sliced into thin rounds

  • Heaping 1/2 cup unsalted raw or roasted cashews

  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar

  • 3 Tbsp gluten-free tamari or soy sauce

  • 2 green onions (white and green parts), minced

  • 2 cups coarsely torn basil leaves (use Thai basil if available)

  • 1 head lettuce such as iceberg or Bibb, or cabbage, leaves separated

Modern Lunch by Allison Day Modern Lunch by Allison Day


1. For the filling, in a large high-sided or nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chicken, eggplant, and cashews, and sauté until the chicken is cooked through and the eggplant is tender and browned, about 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and tamari or soy sauce, and cook for 1 minute longer, until the liquid is absorbed. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the green onion and basil. Transfer the filling to a large container or bowl, cool, seal or cover, and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the wraps.

2. To assemble, divide the filling between 4 bento boxes or containers. Roll the lettuce leaves and tuck them in bento boxes or containers or securely wrap and pack on the side. Seal everything up and refrigerate until you are ready to take it with you.

3. When you arrive at work, keep your meal cold in the refrigerator or with a cooler pack in your lunch bag. To serve, keep the filling cold or reheat, if desired, then top the lettuce leaves with filling, tuck in the sides (like a taco), and enjoy.

Lunch Note: Make It Vegetarian

Replace the chicken with 1 package (12 ounces) extra-firm tofu, finely crumbled after pressing out the liquid. As it’s already cooked, the tofu will only take about 5 minutes in the pan to dry out and become a touch crispy.

Excerpted from Modern Lunch: +100 Recipes for Assembling the New Midday Meal by Allison Day. Copyright © 2019 Allison Day. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.