Bento no. 32: Fiber-rich vegan leftovers bento

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Bento contents:

Total calories (approx): 485 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 10 minutes in the morning

Type: Japanese, vegan (tofu)

This is an all-vegan, fiber-rich bento that is assembled from planned leftovers. That is to say, when I made the stir fried lotus root (omitting the sesame seeds, because I was out of them, and adding a little dried red pepper flakes) and the vegan nikujaga for dinner, I made extra so there would be enough for bentos in the following days. Both hold up well for a couple of days in the refrigerator - the nikujaga even improves in flavor. If you prefer the classic meaty version of nikujaga, it also mellows well in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Even the carrot rice is made from leftover rice or from frozen rice, using the microwave method. It's the only thing I made in the morning, but if you're really pressed for time you could make it the night before too. Or you could use the rice cooker method and freeze it in advance (see how to freeze rice.)

(Incidentally this bento fulfills a lot of the guidelines and characteristics of sho-jin cooking. It's all-vegetable based, and has warming (lotus root) and cooling (potato) elements. )

Tips and notes

  • I wanted to add broccoli for color and variety. I just ripped off a couple of florets from a head of broccoli in the freezer, rinsed them, and put them on the edges of the plate (under the plastic wrap) when I microwaved the carrot rice. Two items in one go!
  • If you can't find fried tofu (atsuage) for the potato dish, you can substitute thin fried tofu (aburaage or usuage), very firm well drained plain tofu, or (better) tempeh. TVP and such should work too. If you use one of the non-fried proteins, fry them in a little oil until they brown a bit on the outside before adding to the stew pot.

Here's the man-sized version - with more of each item. This one clocks in at about 700 calories.

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Timeline

If the leftovers have been in the fridge for a couple of days and the weather is warm, heat them through thoroughly and cool before packing. If just made them the night before though you can skip this step.

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