Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bento Round-Up, With a Side of Hummus

My bento lunches for the rest of this past week treated me well. They gave me the opportunity to explore not just one, but two fabulous new recipes, and they filled my belly fairly well. With all of these, I would probably add a few nuts or a slice of cheese in the future. A fellow member of LiveJournal's Bento Lunches group suggested that I try using a traditional bento dish, rice, in my box. I do want to attempt brown rice onigiri -- my brain likes the idea of a tuna or apricot filling, or perhaps tuna-and-apricot -- but at the same time, the process is rather intimidating. Especially as I find rice difficult to prepare well plain, let alone throwing in the additional task of molding it into little balls of healthy-grained delight.

But still, I do want to give onigiri a go. Perhaps tonight is the night -- my kitchen is clean, I've got some time. It's really too bad that a) I'm feeling lazy, and b) I don't feel much like thinking about next week yet. Even though "next week" officially begins in less than four hours. While I maintain my illusions of weekends and vacation-y goodness, on to the bento round-up! These are my last three bento lunches from the past week. If you have thoughts, suggestions, or tips, please share them! I can (and will!) use all the help I can get.

Wednesday -- Bento #5

Bottom tier (left): 1 package of wheat Melba Toast (5 crackers), tropical dried fruit mix, and chipotle salsa in the little container.

Top tier (right): 3 mini spinach frittatas with fat-free quark, fresh French beans, and fat-free cottage cheese.

Thursday -- Bento #6

Bottom tier (left): 1 light rye Ryvita cracker (hidden by the beans), French beans, tomatoes, dried apricots, and dried cranberries (hidden by the tomatoes)

Top tier (right): 2 more Ryvita crackers, 4 mini spinach frittatas (hidden by the crackers), and frozen mixed berries (they were no longer frozen when I ate them, and rather soggy and goopy, although not bad).

Friday -- Bento #7

Bottom tier (left): 1 package of wheat Melba Toast (5 crackers), fresh carrots, and dried cranberries.

Top tier (right): Curried hummus and a cucumber and tomato salad.

This is the most delicious bento I've put together so far, and that came as such a surprise. I don't traditionally seek after Indian/curry flavors, and this bento is heavy on that type of taste. I assembled both the salad and the hummus the night before I packed this lunch up, and when I had finished both dishes I didn't feel too impressed with either one of them. Apparently, though, an overnight stay in the fridge is exactly what they needed to allow the flavors to really meld into my most satisfying and scrumptious bento to date.

The salad is based off this recipe from Just Bento, except that I used 2 T fat-free quark instead of the yogurt, and curry powder instead of the podina masala powder. It was so fresh, light, and crunchy, and absolutely delicious! As for the spread, I had been wanting to try making hummus for quite some time, so I seized the day and made a batch just for my bento lunches. Using this intriguing recipe from AllRecipes as a guide, I made a few changes and continue to be highly excited by the results. I still have about two-thirds of the batch left, and I can't wait to use it in next week's bento boxes! It goes wonderfully with both the carrots and the Melba Toast that I packed them with in this bento.

Curried Hummus

1 can garbonzo beans
1 1/2 garlic cloves, minced
2 t curry powder
3 T lemon juice
1/4 cup water
hot sauce to taste

Combine all the ingredients and blend, blend, blend! Refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight. Serve with crackers, pita chips, veggies, or just eat it with a spoon at any temperature.

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