Total calories (approx): 515 (how calories are calculated)
Time needed: 10-15 minutes
I haven’t posted a full bento in a while! Time to rectify that situation!
This is a bento that I made right after I came back from my trip. You know how it goes - whenever you’re going away, you think you’re going to clean out the fridge properly before leaving and all that, but you never get around to it in the final rush. So you come home and you are faced with some dodgy looking science experiments in your vegetable drawer. The only vegetables that were still cheerfully intact in my fridge after 3 weeks away were a small cabbage, a bunch of celery stalks (slightly limp), and a half-filled bag of carrots. The onions were ok in the pantry too, but the potatoes had all sprouted their way to oblivion.
The freezer was surprisingly empty of any meat and things too - well perhaps not surprisingly, since I did try to use up a lot of things before leaving. So, I had some bolognese sauce, which was good for dinner. I set some aside together with some of the cooked spaghetti (that wonderful pantry staple) for this bento, which I’m calling the Empty Refrigerator Bento.
It was still very tasty, and quite healthy too. Using spaghetti in bento is a bit tricky since it’s fairly calorie-dense, but if you add a whole bunch of vegetables to it, you’ll get the satisfying feeling that pasta can give you while keeping things low-cal. I’ve just used 1 cup of cooked spaghetti here. It’s not too clear perhaps, but if you look at this semi-transparent box from the side you can see that more than half of it is made up of sautéed veggies.
To liven it up visually I’ve added a couple of sprigs of the chive that is still bravely growing in the garden. (Parsley, some green peas, snap peas or anything bright green will do the same trick.) I also brought along a couple of clementines (picked up at the airport on the way home). Clementines are in season right now by the way, in much of the northern hemisphere. I’m almost living on them!
Cut up the cabbage leaves into small pieces. Slice the carrot and onion thinly. Cut the celery on the diagonal into slices.
Heat up a frying pan or wok with the oil, and add the vegables. Stir around a bit, then add about 1/2 cup of water; continue stir-frying. (Using water helps to cook the vegetables without adding more oil.) Just cook to the ‘al dente’ crunchy stage, about 4-5 minutes.
Add salt and pepper, a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, the chili pepper or cayenne pepper (to taste) and the meat sauce. (Point here: Remember that cooled pasta needs a bit more seasoning than hot to taste good. Just adding meatsauce, unless the sauce was too salty to begin with, will be a bit too bland, especially with the added veggies.)
Add the spaghetti, and stir fry until the sauce coats the pasta. Let cool before packing into your bento box.
For more bento recipes, ideas and tips, subscribe to Just Bento via your newsreader or
by email (more about subscriptions).
And visit our sister site, Just Hungry for great Japanese home recipes and more.