not japanese

Great Bento Ideas: Colorful Vegetarian and Gluten-Free Bentos by Cocyte

Bento Petits Farcis

This week’s Great Bento Ideas are by Cocyte, who makes beautiful bentos in Bordeaux, France - a country that could be considered the mecca of bento-ing in Europe. continue reading...

Bento no. 77: 3-part stash and leftovers bento

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Bento contents:

Total calories (approx): 490 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 5 to 10 minutes to pack in the morning

Type: Not really Japanese, made from stash and leftovers continue reading...

Meatballs with lettuce in tomato sauce

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Lettuce in meatballs? I know it sounds weird, but it really works. Tons of chopped lettuce and onion in the meatball mixture gives them an interesting crunchy-crispy texture when freshly cooked. (Picky kids may object to that texture, just because it’s different, but give them a try!) After a time, especially if the meatballs are frozen, the texture disappears, but the meatballs remain juicy and succulent. Plus, the vegetables lighten up the meatballs and lowers their per-ball calore count without sacrificing flavor. The meatballs are simmered in a thick, flavorful tomato sauce.

This is a really versatile recipe that can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days, or put into your freezer stash. You can make this for dinner and serve it over hot pasta, and set aside some for your bento the next day. It goes well with pasta or rice, can be a filling for a assemble-at-lunch sandwich, and so on. continue reading...

Great Bento Ideas: Pretty and Vegetarian

09.15.10 Lunch

This week’s Great Bento Ideas are all vegetarian! continue reading...

Bento no. 74: 5-minute, no stash, beginner bento

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Bento contents:

  • 1 large slice boiled ham, 100 calories
  • 1 slice proscuitto, 80 calories
  • 1 small piece cheese (gouda), 80 calories
  • 2 small whole grain rolls, 160 calories
  • About 8 grapes, 30 calories
  • 1 Tbs. mustard (in small red container)
  • Mixed salad greens, 10 calories

Total calories (approx): 460 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 5 minutes in the morning

Type: Not Japanese, sandwich, nothing made in advance continue reading...

Muffins for spring: Ramp Pesto Muffins and Carrot Purée Muffins

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Spring is the time for one of my favorite vegetables - the mildly garlicky wild greens known as ramps, wild garlic, ramsons and so on in English. Ramps are still too obscure to be cultivated much, so you can only get them for a short time - which is not a bad thing really, because then you can look forward to them for the rest of the year. Carrots on the other hand are available year-round, but locally grown spring carrots just seem to be sweeter and tastier.

The best way in my opinion to capture the essence of ramps is to turn it into a pesto, a very easy thing to do if you have a food processor. And I’ve recently discovered the joys of carrot purée - finely shredded carrots that are steam-braised with a little butter just until they are tender, then mashed. And then, you can turn the concentrated vegetable paste in either case into a delicious savory muffin.

These little muffins take a bit of effort to make, since you need to make a pesto or a puree of vegetables first. But they are worth it. The muffin batter itself is very easy. Make a batch at a time and freeze the extras. If you make them small enough, you can pull one out of the refrigerator in the morning and it will be defrosted and fresh-tasting at lunch time. continue reading...

Bento no. 73: Asparagus Salad and Quinoa Spring Bento

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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.) continue reading...

Quinoa with Green Peas and Dried Sausage

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Although I use rice or bread in most of my bentos, I do like to mix it up with various other grains on occasion. Quinoa is probably my favorite alternate grain; it has a fun pop-y texture and nutty flavor, especially if you sauté it a bit in oil before steaming, and is so high in protein that it can considered to be a serious alternative protein source.

While most quinoa recipes seem to be vegetarian, this one is not, though you can easily turn it into a vegetarian or vegan dish. I’ve added just a little bit of dried sausage or saucisson sec though - its meaty, assertive flavor really goes well with the quinoa and the fresh peas. (In France, peas are often cooked with bacon.) Saucisson sec just means dried sausage, so you can use salami, chorizo, pepperoni, or any similar hard sausage that you can eat sliced without cooking. Whole brown mustard seeds add a little bite. This dish can be made in advance, eaten for dinner one day and bento a day or two later.

I’ve used fresh peas here, which are in season where I live, but frozen peas will work just as well. continue reading...