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!
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.
This salad keeps fairly well for a couple of days in the refrigerator. I could eat this happily for quite a few meals.
This makes about 4 full bento-sized servings; each serving is around 250 calories, give or take 10-20 calories.
The main ingredients:
The spiced oil:
Make the spiced oil: Heat up the oil in a frying pan, and add all the spices. Stir around until it smells toasty and wonderful. Take the spiced oil out of the pan and set aside.
Bring a pot of water to the boil. Add the Puy lentils first, and set a timer for 5 minutes. At the 5 minute mark, add the red lentils and set the timer for another 3 to 5 minutes. Cook just until the Puy lentils are al dente (firm to the tooth); by that time the red lentils should be soft. Drain, put into a bowl and mix in the spiced oil.
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, and scoop ou the seeds with the tip of a teaspoon. Slice the cucumber thinly, and sprinkle a bit of salt over the slices. Massage the salt and cucumber together with your hands. Put the cucumber slices in a kitchen towel or a couple of layers of paper towel, and squeeze out the excess moisture.
Slice or chop up the drained pickled radishes.
Mix together the dressing ingredients. Chop up the parsley leaves, leaving some for garnish (or use parsley flowers as garnish, as I did here.)
Mix the cucumber and radish into the cooled lentils. Add the dressing and mix with a spoon, taking care not to smush the lentils. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Keeps well in the refrigerator for a few days.
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