vegan

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

bento_50_480.jpg

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

quinoa-parsley-salad.jpg

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...

Bento no. 49: Vegan rice burger bento

bento_49_480.jpg

Bento contents:

  • Rice Burger patties made of approx. 1 1/2 cups sprouted brown rice + 1/2 Tbs. olive oil, 350 cal
  • Mediterranean flavored green vegan burger using about 1/5th of the recipe, 120 cal
  • Cherry tomatoes, arugula, berries, 50 cal

Total calories (approx): 520 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 20-25 minutes in the morning if making from scratch; much less if using pre-made/pre-frozen components

Type: Bread-free, vegan continue reading...

Review of Saisai Lunch, a new vegan bento and quick lunch book by Yumiko Kano

saisailunchcover.jpgI’ve mentioned quite a few times both here on Just Bento and on Just Hungry about my admiration for the work of Yumiko Kano (or Yumiko Kanoh), who has written several vegan cookbooks. When I found out that she was coming out with a new book in her “Saisai” series dedicated to bentos and one-dish lunches, I knew I had to get it. The book, titled Saisai Lunch: Quick bentos and at-home lunches made with vegetables (菜菜ランチ 野菜でつくるクィック弁当&おうちごはん) came out on Monday and I received it yesterday, and it looks very good.

Yumiko Kano specializes in “no meat, no eggs, no dairy products, no sugar” vegetarian cooking. (‘No sugar’ means no added white sugar; she does use maple syrup quite a lot, especially in her dessert recipes. She also has a disclaimer that sugar may be present in some flavoring ingredients. Otherwise, she uses the natural sweetness of vegetables, dried fruits, sweet wine and so on.) Her recipes are mostly vegan - she uses vegan konbu seaweed based dashi stock instead of the more usual bonito flake based stock. And unlike most other Japanese cooks, she doesn’t put mirin or sake in every single dish. Most of her recipes are very easy to make, since she only uses a few ingredients.

The bentos in Saisai Lunch have one or maybe two okazu (side dishes) besides the main carb (mostly rice, but she sometimes uses noodles or pasta, and there are a few sandwiches). This keeps things very simple and quick, and it’s the approach I take with my bentos too most of the time. The presentation of each bento is beautiful yet simple - no trace of kyaraben-style cuteness here! And most of all, everything looks so delicious that even the resident diehard omnivore (or as he calls himself, the “bovo-vegetarian”) around here is drooling over each page. continue reading...

Quick tip: Using tofu in bento-friendly recipes

Tofu is a great protein, especially useful for vegan or vegetarian, but also useful for lightening up meat based recipes. I use tofu in a number of recipes here, but I thought it would be useful to address how to deal with tofu when you’re using it for bento recipes.

Types of tofu

If you go to an Asian/Chinese or Japanese store, you might be confused by the variety of tofus on sale. continue reading...

Mediterranean flavored green vegan burgers

greenmushroomtofuburger.jpg

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...

Cooked to death hot and sweet peppers

ctd-hotsweetpeppers.jpg

Greenhouse grown peppers are available year round, but summer is when peppers are really in season. I picked up a bushel load of colorful hot and sweet peppers at a market last week, and some of them turned into this item which is great for bento.

It couldn’t be easier to make, but does take a little time. A mixture of mildly hot chili peppers and sweet peppers are briefly stir fried in sesame oil, then simmered for about half an hour or more. The peppers are falling-apart soft, spicy, sweet and salty. It’s great to tuck into the corner of a bento box, and, well drained of the cooking liquid, also makes a great and unusual filling for onigiri (rice balls).

My grandmother used to make this kind of ‘cooked to death’ or until very limp (kuta-kuta ni) vegetable dish quite a bit. It’s a great way to reduce a big pile of vegetables to a manageable eating amount. This method works well with green beans too. I think it’s rather similar to the way some vegetables such as greens are cooked for a long time in American Southern cooking. I’m no nutrionist, but you do eat all of the ‘cooking liquor’ alongside the vegetables, so nutrition loss may not be so bad, though raw-food advocates may shudder.

The key here is the selection of peppers. The spicy chili pepppers should only be mildly spicy. In Japan you would use shishito peppers. Here I used a variety from Italy that I’m not sure of the variety name of, but it is similarly thin-walled and mild enough not to burn my mouth. Jalapeños or anchos might be good choices too. For the sweet peppers, I used the long red peppers that are called banana peppers, Hungarian peppers or paprikas, depending on who is selling them and where. continue reading...

Bento no. 44: Pre-made inarizushi and bean sprout stir fry (vegan)

bento_44_480.jpg

Bento contents:

Total calories (approx): 360 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 5-10 minutes in the morning Type: Japanese, vegan continue reading...