Bento no. 73: Asparagus Salad and Quinoa Spring Bento


Bento contents:

(1 cup = 240ml (US measurements))

Time needed: 25-30 minutes the night before; 10-15 minutes in the morning

Type: Not Japanese, alternative grains, gluten-free (note: please make sure the sausage you use is wheat-free if you are gluten intolerent.)

A lot of people are conditioned to the idea of getting their protein from one item in their meal, usually a hunk of meat or a piece of fish. This bento is an example of a meal that still has lots of protein, but it comes in fairly small doses from different foods. The quinoa, which has 14 grams of protein per 100 grams, is the main source of protein, but there’s also the bit of sausage, and even the tiny bit of cheese. It all adds up. Although it may not look like it, I think this is a quite Japanese way of putting together a meal, where all kinds of foods are used in multiple dishes to make up the whole.

This bento is also very easy to assemble, provided you make at least one of the main components the night before. In my case I made the quinoa the night before (we had most of it for dinner actually, with a tomato salad) and made the asparagus salad fresh. I love asparagus and green peas, not to mention fresh,sweet strawberries, and plan to incorporate them in as many meals as I can while they’re in season.

Natural garnishes and your bento color palette

Partly influenced by the beautiful takeout bentos I had in Japan, especially in Kyoto, I’m very much into the idea of natural garnishes at the moment. By natural garnish, I mean something that can be added to a bento or dish without a lot of elaborate carving or cutting. I will get back to that kind of garnish I’m sure, but that’s not the only way to make a bento pretty. Here I just cooked a whole peapod together with the quinoa, and used that on top. I think the effect is quite cute and springlike - what do you think?


Another thing I try to pay attention to is the color palette of a bento. Pink, green and yellow say “spring” to me, and that’s what I’ve tried to express here in a subtle way, and in an overt way in the previous bento. While the bento I did back in December has colors that are all about Christmas.

When you’re looking at the foods you plan to put in your bento box, it’s sometimes fun to think about the color combinations they will produce.

The box I used

Since this bento has three distinct components, with flavors that should be kept separate, it was an easy decision to reach for a three-compartment bento box. I used the Bento Colors box that was mentioned in the April bento products highlights post. Mine is in pink, which goes with the spring theme! If you don’t have a three-tier box, use a two-tier one and carry the strawberries in a small sidebox.


I like the way the outer box keeps the inner boxes totally secure, though it does add some weight to the whole package. It just looks so nice though. I’m tempted to get the whole range of colors and just put them on display…but then I remember I need to save money to renovate a house, etc etc….(sigh). It’s hard being a bento-box-addict! Now where’s that lottery ticket…

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Re: Bento no. 73: Asparagus Salad and Quinoa Spring Bento

I think it's adorable and looks absolutely yummy!
Good job as always~

Re: Bento no. 73: Asparagus Salad and Quinoa Spring Bento

This is really pretty and the first thing I noticed was how beautiful that peapod sitting on top was!! :D

Re: Bento no. 73: Asparagus Salad and Quinoa Spring Bento

This bento looks super delicious! I think the pea pod looks wonderful. Honestly, I think I prefer natural garnishes. The fancy ones look awesome and impressive, but to me it looks more like art than food. It looks tasty, but it's so pretty I don't want to eat it and mess it up! I also love the color palate you used., with the variations of red and green. Those strawberries look so delicious!! And their striking color makes the rest of the bento look especially scrumptious, too.

Re: Bento no. 73: Asparagus Salad and Quinoa Spring Bento

This is so pretty!! After seeing it in your April bento products post, I ordered that same box, but in blue. I can't wait for it to arrive! This asparagus salad looks great too.. I've only had purple asparagus raw, not green, but I plan on trying it soon. I love you blog by the way, it's my favorite!! ^_^

Re: Bento no. 73: Asparagus Salad and Quinoa Spring Bento

I tried this one, but I forgot that my little brother goes hyper with lemon juice -_- oops.

But it made an excellent picnic meal, I took it to the park to eat with my boyfriend and share the good news on my college choices. Thank you, maki!

Re: Bento no. 73: Asparagus Salad and Quinoa Spring Bento

this looks so yummy.

Re: Bento no. 73: Asparagus Salad and Quinoa Spring Bento

This is so pretty! I love the natural garnish. I have a question that is a lil off topic, but when I saw the parmesan cheese in the bento, I just had to ask:

Americans (especially me!) love cheese. We put it on everything we can. Usually it's American cheese, or cheddar or mozzerella. I have a couple recipes from betnto cookbooks that say to use a "slice of cheese" like in rolled up tamego or hampen and cheese. What kind of cheese are they expecting me to use? Is there a Japanese favorite? Or did these cookbooks just make these recipes up to appeal to the American obsession with cheese? Just curious =)


Re: Bento no. 73: Asparagus Salad and Quinoa Spring Bento

Great question! I've answered it here :)

Re: Bento no. 73: Asparagus Salad and Quinoa Spring Bento

I love this salad! I dressed it with a splash of a citrusy white wine-it was too dry for us to drink, but does amazing things on food. I add the cheese when I pack it.

Re: Bento no. 73: Asparagus Salad and Quinoa Spring Bento

I prepared the quinoa salad yesterday and it was great! Thanks for the idea, I like new recipes using quinoa.
And I really like your website! Full of ideas for a bento that is nice, tasty and balanced. Thanks!

Re: Bento no. 73: Asparagus Salad and Quinoa Spring Bento

I absolutely loved the asparagus and radish salad. I was a little skeptical at first, but it was colorful and looked good, so I gave it a try. It was a big hit with the husband, who I've been making bento lunches to take to work for almost a month, now.
I've been using mostly your site for recipe and other inspiration. I've also been dipping into my tapas books for some ideas as well.
Sometimes I have successful bentos, other times, not so much. But it's been a lot of fun all in all.

Bento no. 73: Altered

Maki! I Just made this for lunch tomorrow! I used brown rice (since I had no quinoa) and I used sliced sugar snap peas (since I was also out of normal ones). I also added a splash of worcestershire sauce and lemon to the water I cooked the brown rice in. I made the side of asparagus but blanched it and omitted the radish. I am going to have it with grapes and sesame glazed almonds tomorrow. Maybe a small tamagoyaki too :) Should be delicious!

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