not japanese

Bento filler: Raw Asparagus, Radish and Parmesan salad

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I had never tried raw asparagus until just a couple of weeks ago. I just assumed that aspagarus needed to be cooked. But if you have fresh, tender asparagus, and slice it very thin, it actually makes an excellent and unusual salad. The texture stays crisp for a few hours after making, so it’s a great springtime bento side dish. It’s paired with thinly sliced radish which adds more crunch, color and a spicy kick, plus small chunks of Parmesan cheese for saltiness and body. A very simple lemon dressing brings it all together. continue reading...

Bento No. 71: Tiger Corn Muffin and Soup Bento

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Bento contents:

Total calories (approx): 510 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 25-30 minutes to decorate the muffins (muffins are pre-made and frozen)

Type: Not Japanese, theme bento, vegetarian continue reading...

Bento no. 70: Even Kale Can Become A Christmas Bento

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Bento contents:

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

Time needed: 5-10 minutes in the morning (from leftovers of dinner the night before: see recipe for timing of kale dish) continue reading...

One-pan braised kale with bacon and new potatoes

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I have been trying to incorporate more dark leafy green vegetables into our meals lately, not only for health reasons, but for the taste too. Spinach and Swiss chard are standards for me, but lately I’ve been playing around a lot with the kale family and cavolo nero, a type of dark leafed, loose cabbage. Kale is a bit tough, so I like to blanch it before stir frying it, adding to soups, and so on. continue reading...

Two-Color Spicy Lentil Salad with Cucumber and Pickled Radish

Freebie alert: I’m giving away a copy of the cookbook mentioned here, The Enlightened Kitchen, over on Just Hungry. Deadline is Sunday, June the 7th!

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Vegetarian Bento May is over, but I still have some bento-friendly vegan recipes to post! This one was inspired by two sources: Sarah’s Curried Lentil Risotto, and a recipe for a lentil and mushroom salad in The Enlightened Kitchen, a great shojin ryori cookbook that I’ve just reviewed over on Just Hungry. The latter recipe uses both green and red lentils to come up with a bi-color effect that is very pretty, and that’s what I wanted to emulate.

The first time I tried making this, I used hard, flinty green Puy lentils, and ran into a problem: they take about twice as long to cook as the red lentils, which are hulled. By the time the Puy lentils were cooked, the red lentils had disintegrated. On my second attempt, I just adjusted the cooking times, putting the Puy lentils in the boiling water first, then adding the red lentils later. That came out quite well. The Puy lentils remain al dente and firm, while the red lentils are quite soft and starchy.

The lentil salad recipe in the Enlightened Kitchen book called for curry powder, which is a standard spice in Japanese kitchens, but I used a mixture of Indian spices instead, which I think makes for more vibrant and exciting flavors. The last of my pickled radishes fit very well too. continue reading...

Bento filler: Zucchini flower blossom-end fritters

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Zucchini or courgette flowers are beautiful things to behold at the market. The most commonly seen recipes using them seem to call for stuffing them with meat or cheese, but they are great just simply fried too.

When trying to come up with a fritter that would fit neatly into a bento box, I found that the floppy flower petals got a bit too messy looking. So I cut them off, ending up with just the round blossom ends. They look rather like giant buttercups.

These little fritters are good hot or cold. They are very easy to make, so I would suggest making them for dinner and holding back a few for your bento the next day. continue reading...

Spring Pasta and Chickpea Salad and Bento-Friendly Pasta Salad Basics

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We are now entering pasta salad season, at least here in the Northern Hemisphere. Easy to assemble and delicious at room temperature, at first glance you might think that pasta salads are perfect in bentos. There are a few things to watch out for though, in order to make sure that your salad is as safe as it is delicious at lunchtime. I also have a super-easy Chickpea and Pasta Salad recipe that is very bento-friendly; it’s vegetarian (easily converted to being vegan), to fit in with the theme for this month. continue reading...

A Frugal Recipe: Curried Lentil Risotto

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In keeping with Frugal Bento Month, this inexpensive yet delicious spicy vegan recipe, which could be a main protein or a combined protein/carb in a bento, is a guest post by Sarah of Get Cooking, where she blogs about her adventures in eclectic home cooking in New York. continue reading...