not japanese

Two types of savory vegan muffins: Pumpkin-miso and Carrot-onion-hazelnuts

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I think mini muffins are great for bentos. They are tiny, easy and fast to make, freeze beautifully, and defrost naturally by lunchtime if you take them out of the freezer in the morning. They are handy snacks to eat when your energy is running low but you don’t have time to stop and eat properly, and are also great accompaniments to a soup or salad.

Here are two savory muffin recipes that also happen to be vegan. continue reading...

Bento no. 50: Vegan bento with quinoa salad and curried kidney beans

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Bento contents:

Total calories (approx): 450 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 5-10 minutes with pre-made components

Type: Vegan, not Japanese, gluten-free continue reading...

Quinoa, parsley and pepper salad

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This is a very easy vegan main dish that’s as pretty as a picture. It’s packed with protein from the quinoa, and all kinds of good vitamins and such from the parsley and peppers. It also holds up in the refrigerator for a few days, since the lemon juice, salt and oil help to keep it fresh tasting. I made a fairly large batch and ate it over the course of a week! You can also play with the base and add things like chopped up olives, cooked beans, cheese (vegan or not), flaked canned tuna and so on. It is inspired by a recipe in Saisai Lunch; the original recipe uses okara instead of quinoa, and uses the salad as a topping on a bed of rice. I think my quinoa version, which is designed to be eaten on its own and not as a rice topping, is just as nice if not (dare I say) more so. continue reading...

Mediterranean flavored green vegan burgers

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I’ve loaded up the recipe archives with several chicken recipes, so now it’s time to add some more vegan and vegetarian recipes! To kick things off, here is a versatile, very tasty and very nutritious tofu based burger.

I haven’t done much in the garden this year, but I did rather randomly sew a whole lot of ‘cut and come again’ type greens seeds. Despite not taking much care of them, at the moment we are inundated with loads of slightly insect and slug-nibbled arugula or rucola, Swiss chard and other greens.

These vegan burgers are a very nice way to use up lots of greens like these in ways other than in salads. They are light yet very flavorful, so that even the most hardened carnivore is likely to gobble them up. They are good plain, or with a dipping sauce, and are great for bentos. continue reading...

Bento no. 48: Salted chicken and carrot kinpira sandwich bento

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Bento contents:

  • 2 slices of bread, 85 cal each - 170 cal
  • Pan-fried salty chicken, 2 small chicken thighs totalling 70g (2.5oz) with skin, 150 cal
  • About 1/3-1/2 cup carrot kinpira, 50 cal
  • Lettuce and cherry tomatoes, 5 cal
  • 1/3 cucumber with dill, 10 cal
  • 1/2 Tbs. mayonnaise (in apple shaped container), 50 cal

Total calories (approx): 435 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 5-10 minutes in the morning continue reading...

Simply grilled or pan-fried salted chicken thighs

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Continuing on the chicken-fit-for-bento theme, here is another very simple grilled or pan-fried chicken recipe. This time, instead of chicken breast, chicken thighs are used. I know that many dieters avoid dark meat, and it is admittedly higher in fat content than white. But I think it’s so much more flavorful, especially when it comes from ordinary supermarket chicken.

When I was in college, I did the bookkeeping for a midtown Manhattan Japanese restaurant for a few months. The pay was mediocre and the work itself was quite boring, but I did at least get free lunch. Even though theoretically I could choose anything from the menu (barring the really expensive sushi or sashimi) on most days I chose the chikin shioyaki teishoku (Grilled salt chicken set). It was just a large salted chicken thigh with side vegetables (broccoli and something else, which I can’t remember), a bowl of miso soup and a bowl of white rice, but that chicken was so delicious! I couldn’t figure out why it was so crispy on the outside yet juicy on the inside. Some time later, I found out their ‘secret’ in a roundabout way. The key is to salt the chicken meat, then let it rest for a while. This causes the chicken to exude excess moisture, and firms up the meat. It does mean you need to plan ahead a bit to allow for the resting time, but it’s well worth it. You might wonder if a chicken dish can be so good with just salt and a little pepper, but it really is! continue reading...

The easiest always-moist poached chicken

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Poached chicken is a really handy thing to have around, for making chicken salad, sandwiches, and a whole lot more. When I have the time and the will, I poach whole chickens and stock them in the freezer. These days though, I don’t have the time or the energy for such tasks, so I cheat a bit and poach boneless chicken breasts.

While chicken breasts are so handy, it’s very easy to overcook them. This method is just about the easiest and most foolproof way of cooking the white meat so that it’s moist and tender, yet cooked through properly. continue reading...

Pan-fried lemon chicken nuggets

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Although I use chicken quite a lot in my bentos, I realized that I have very few bento-appropriate chicken recipes up here on Just Bento, or even over on Just Hungry. I am going to rectify this situation over the next few days, so if you are a chicken fan, stay tuned!

The first chicken recipe is one I have made for years and years - tender, lemony white meat nuggets that are infused with lemon. They very quick to make, good hot or cold, and versatile. They are pan fried, not deep-fried, so they are not crispy on the outside, but are delicious nevertheless. You can use them in a rice based bento, with noodles, or as a sandwich filling. They can be eaten as-is with a cocktail stick or the fingers too. continue reading...