Total calories (approx): 420 (how calories are calculated)
Time needed in the morning: 10-15 minutes
I’ve already described each component of this bento already, but I just wanted to show how it all comes together.
The time it takes to assemble a bento depends on how long it takes to cook and cool down the item that takes the longest. In this case it’s the cherry tomato and vegetable gratin, which takes a couple of minutes to assemble, 6 minutes to cook in a toaster oven, then at least 5 minutes to cool. So as you can see from the timeline below, I start with this first. Once the gratin is cooking, I pack the rice in the bento box (so it has time to cool down) and then cook the shrimp, which takes a shorter time to cook and cool. (Incidentally, the gratin’s calories can be reduced if you don’t use a big spoonful of pesto sauce as I did…though that certainly makes it taste great!)
“Cubing” the rice, as described here, is optional, but it does make the whole bento look a bit neater I think, and provides a guide for decorating the rice. I just did it simply here with a little yukari (red shiso furikake) and edamame (2 pods worth of beans), but it the comment it was suggested that the ‘cubes’ could be a base for Monokuro Boo…I don’t quite see black and white piggies, but if you do, go for it!
Incidentally, I’m once again using my favorite bento box of the moment, a stainless steel one-tier model from Kobo Aizawa (described here - it’s the “M” size, with a capacity of 670ml). I love how food placed in it cools down quickly, how durable it is, and how the lid clips on very tightly. I think I may try to get another stainless steel bento box. The only drawback is that after it’s washed, our hard water leaves streaks on it, but I just buff these off with a clean kitchen towel.
I also took the precaution of packing the bento box with an icepack, as described here, in an insulated bag. The bento was a bit cold at lunchtime but tasted fresh and wonderful.
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