vegetables

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 filler: 3-color Spring Vegetable Namul with Crabstick

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This is a very simple and quick vegetable side dish or filler for bentos, using vegetables available in the spring - new or spring cabbage, little carrots, and greens, with shredded crabstick or surimi. You could use shredded ham instead of the crabstick, splash out a bit and use real crabmeat, or just keep it all-vegetable. This is a namul, a Korean salad-like side dish. More about namul (and another namul recipe) here. The addition of a bit of vinegar is very unauthentic, but I think it enhances the flavors.

The most time consuming part of this recipe is shredding the vegetables. You can cheat and use pre-shredded carrots and cabbage, or use your food processor, if you’re not too handy with a knife. 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...

Stewed winter vegetables with kouya dofu (freeze dried tofu)

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Salads and such are fine in the warm months, but now that it’s cold outside here in the northern hemisphere, I tend to prefer cooked vegetables. This homey stewed vegetable dish is rather typical of Japanese ‘mom’s cooking’ - seasonal vegetables all cooked together in a dashi based broth. (I know that green beans are not exactly seasonal, but they are added just for the color; use any green vegetable instead.) It does take a while to assemble and cook, but once you have a big potful it lasts for a few days, so it’s a great refrigerator stock dish.

I’ve tried to use ‘ordinary’, non-exotic vegetables as much as possible, but I did add a little lotus root since it adds visual flair as well as a nice crunchy texture. This is a one-pot meal due to the addition of potatoes for carbs, and meaty-textured kouya dofu or freeze dried tofu (for which you can substitute extra-firm tofu or even chicken pieces) for protein. You can just pack this into a bento box on its own, or accompany it with rice and pickles. continue reading...

Making your own frozen kabocha squash, plus a simple recipe for simmered kabocha squash

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It’s the best time of the year to stock up on your own frozen kabocha squash; here’s how to do it. Plus, an easy to remember recipe for classic simmered kabocha squash. continue reading...

Opposing cut or chigai-giri: The easiest ever decorative cutting technique for bananas, cucumbers and more

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A couple of people asked about the twist-cut banana slices that were tucked into a corner of the scotch egg bento. This is actually a very simple decorative cutting technique that can be done in a couple of minutes, even if you are a beginner. I learned how to do this cut back in my first year of middle school (7th grade in U.S. school terms, or when I was 12-13) in home economics class. It’s usually called chigai giri (違い切り) or ‘opposing cut’ in Japanese. I also call it the ‘twist cut’, since the business end of the cut looks twisted to me.

There’s more than one way to do this cut, but here’s the way I learned how to do it. It still works best for me. continue reading...

Bento filler: Green beans and aburaage (fried tofu skins)

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I swear this site has not gone all vegetarian - I’ll have some recipes for you omnivores soon! Still, now that the weather is so sunny and beautiful here, and with the abundance of great produce, it just seems easier to think up vegetable recipes. This one can be used as a filler or a vegan main in a bento, and is dead easy to make - and it just uses four ingredients! The main ones are fresh green beans and aburaage, deep fried tofu skins. No oil is added, since we utilize the residual oil on the aburaage instead. This dish keeps quite well in the refrigerator, so you can make a batch and use it throughout the week. continue reading...