High Noon

Gale Gand's new book is all about lunch

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When Chicagoans hear the name Gale Gand, they think dessert. Not surprising, given that the James Beard Award-winning pastry chef was the longtime dessert go-to at Tru.

"My last book was about brunch and I was nervous," Gand explained. "Would people let me out of the cake box and accept me as a chef, not just a pastry chef?"

Her latest book, Lunch! ($20, available April 29), makes us happy to have Gand in our kitchen.

Lunch! is filled with simple recipes for what Gand calls "the neglected stepchild of meals." There are sandwiches (she's particularly fond of her lobster roll), appetizers like a pea and garlic "hummus" with cumin pita chips, and healthy snacks, like baked kale crisps.

Gand is an advocate for the lunch party, rather than the dinner party. "Lunch is so much easier than a dinner party–make a killer salad, a room-temperature pasta and pour one glass of wine," Gand explains. "It doesn't linger for four hours and it seems to charge the rest of the day, unlike those long dinner parties where you're sore afterwards."

Our favorite part of the book? Her "101" sections about seemingly simple sandwiches. "You'd think the PB&J would be the shortest recipe in the book; I think it's the longest!" laughs Gand. "There are so many variations!"

She also walks readers through making grilled cheese and chicken salad–simple dishes that many home cooks still botch.

And don't worry: There are still desserts. Salted caramel brownies (which only take one bowl) uphold Gand's rep for pastry excellence.

This spring, let's do lunch.