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Popular Office Lunches in South America

In a similar fashion to North America, South American cuisine is heavily influenced by others, the most obvious being Spanish, Italian and occasionally Asian cuisine. The climate favours a lot of South Americans, as they are able to produce a variety of crops, such as tropical fruits, staple grains and the cassava plant.

Below you can find four dishes that are widely popular across the South American continent.

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Argentina - Empanada

Popular in America and Spain, the empanada is a stuffed bread or pastry that is often baked or fried. In Argentina, shops and food vendors specialise in freshly made empanadas with a variety of flavours and fillings to choose from.
Calories Prep/Cook Time 
335 2 Hours


To begin making empanadas, you will need:

    • 100g ground pork or beef
    • 1 small onion, finely diced
    • 1 jalapeno chili, minced
    • ¼ tsp chilli powder
    • ½ cup tomatoes, diced
    • ¼ cup coriander, chopped
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • ½ tsp baking powder
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 50g butter, diced
    • 1 small egg


  1. In a medium frying pan, cook the meat on a medium to high heat for 5-7 minutes.

  2. Add onion and jalapenos and cook for a further 5 minutes. Stir in chili powder and tomatoes and cook over a medium heat until the mixture thickens.

    Once cooked, remove from the heat, stir in the coriander and let it cool.

  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Crumble in the butter and add just enough water so the dough comes together. Knead well.

  4. Separate the dough into golf ball shapes, place in a bowl and cover. Leave to prove for one hour.

  5. Lightly flour the surface and roll out each piece of dough into a rough circle no thicker than a tortilla.

  6. Spoon the meat onto one half of the dough.

  7. Gently beat the egg in a small bowl and egg wash the edges of the dough.

  8. Fold over the dough and firmly press the edges together. Place on a baking tray and prepare for baking.

  9. Bake until golden brown in a 200 degree oven, or for 30 to 40 minutes.

  10. Serve warm!

Ecuador - Chicken and Potato Soup

Practicality for many Ecuadorians is key, which is why they opt for a budget friendly meal they can prepare in bulk. Often made over a weekend, families will portion the soup into lunch boxes ready for the working week.
Calories Prep/Cook Time 
232 1 Hour


To begin making chicken and potato soup, you will need:

    • 1 tbsp butter
    • 2 chicken breasts, diced
    • 1 small onion, diced
    • 3 medium potatoes, diced
    • 2 medium carrots, sliced
    • ½ cup of peas
    • ½ cup of sweetcorn
    • ½ cup of milk
    • Water


  1. In a large pot, melt the butter over a medium heat and cook the chicken for 10 minutes, or until the juices run clear.

  2. In the pot, mix in the onion, potatoes, carrots, peas and sweetcorn. Pour in the milk and add enough water to cover the ingredients.

  3. Bring to the boil and reduce heat to a low temperature. Simmer for 30 minutes until potatoes are tender.

  4. Serve warm!

Brazil - Farofa with Rice and Beans

Farofa is a toasted flour mixture from the native crop cassava. Farofa is typically prepared as a side dish to a family recipe. The dish  has a very smoky and salty taste often used to accentuate the taste of meat and hearty stews.
Calories Prep/Cook Time 
261 1 Hour


To begin making farofa with rice and beans, you will need:

    • 1 thick slice of bacon, chopped
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • ¼ tsp salt
    • 1 cup manioc flour
    • 1 cup white rice, cooked
    • 1 cup kidney beans, cooked


  1. In a small frying pan, cook the bacon on a medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until golden brown.

  2. In a small bowl, mix the garlic and salt into a paste.

  3. Stir the garlic paste into the bacon and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes.

  4. Reduce the heat to a low temperature and add the flour, continuously stirring, for about 4 minutes, or until the flour is toasted.

  5. Serve warm or at room temperature with the cooked rice and beans!

Uruguay - Milanesa al Pan (Milanesa Steak Sandwich)

Milanesa is a South American variation of an Italian dish where generic types of meat are dipped into flour, beaten eggs, breadcrumbs and fried in oil. Other milanesa delicacies include chicken, veal, eggplant or soy.
Calories Prep/Cook Time 
396 1 Hour


To begin making milanesa al pan, you will need:

    • 1 steak
    • 1 cup of flour
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 1 cup of breadcrumbs
    • 1 avocado
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 small tomato, sliced
    • 1 small baguette
    • 2 tbsp salsa
    • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
    • 1/3 cup mozzarella, grated


  1. Lay the flour onto a plate, the eggs on another and the breadcrumbs on a third plate. Dip the steak in the flour, followed by the eggs and finally coat the steak in breadcrumbs.

  2. In a small bowl, mash the avocado with the olive oil.

  3. In a small frying pan, heat some oil over a medium to high heat. Add the steak and cook til brown on either side.

    Once cooked, top with the mozzarella and leave it to melt.

  4. Slice the baguette open and optionally, toast.

  5. Spread the avocado onto the bottom half of the baguette, top with the steak, salsa and tomatoes.

  6. Spread the mayonnaise on the top half of the baguette, close and serve!

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