Bento no. 73: Asparagus Salad and Quinoa Spring Bento
- Quinoa with green peas and dried sausage, 1/3rd of the recipe (about 1 1/3 cups), 340 calories
- Raw asparagus, radish and Parmesan salad, 1/2 of the recipe (about 1 1/4 cups), 100 calories
- Fresh strawberries, about 1 cup, 50 calories Total calories (approx): 490 (how calories are calculated)
(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...