Category Archives: bento

Millet salad bento

This simple grain salad has made for a couple of great lunches this week.I roasted two sweet potatoes and an onion, which I tossed in powdered chipotle pepper, cumin, paprika, salt and a bit of oil,for about 20 minutes. I mixed that with some cooked millet (about 3/4 cup dry) and some black beans (the equivalent of about a can – the beans were home-cooked in the pressure cooker and had been frozen). I then squeezed in the juice of one lime. Good balance of flavours, and nice and filling!

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Pear and parsnip soup and a bare bones bento.

Pear parsnip soup

I can’t take credit for this soup – the recipe comes from Ricki over at Diet, Dessert and Dogs, and I barely made any changes to it. I halved the recipe, since I am just cooking for myself today, and I added a glug of white wine and a roasted elephant garlic to the mix after the sautĂ©ing step. I used a low sodium stock cube instead of proper vegetable stock. I served it with a sprinkling of hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds, and it was a lovely supper on a wet fall night! The rest of it goes into tomorrow’s lunch. Highly recommended!

Simple lunch

This was my very simple lunch today – left-over millet, cold-smoked mackerel (from the grocery store) and some cucumber.I picked out the two cupcake molds and reheated the millet in the microwave, and then mixed in the mackerel. Kind of salty-satisfying 🙂

Basic bentos.

It’s been too hot to cook much so my lunchboxes have been fairly basic lately except when I have had leftovers available. Here are a couple of recent ones with the millet salmon patties I made last week.Strawberries and blueberries, mini pitas and two millet salmon patties.

Greek yogurt with vanilla flavor, a pita, two salmon millet patties and a strawberry.

Avocado and a millet salmon patty bento.

This morning I took most of the left over millet from this weekend’s salad and made patties.They go into today’s lunch box, along with a strawberry agar agar dessert, some store bought mini pitas and a medium avocado.

Salmon millet patties

  • cooked millet (approx 1/2- 3/4 cup dry?)
  • one can salmon
  • some chopped cilantro
  • 1/3-1/2 shredded medium zucchini
  • 1 egg
  • salt
  • cayenne

Work the millet with your hands to break up lumps. Add the remaining ingredients (remove big bones from the fish if you see any), egg last (I use 1 egg here because I don’t think it would stick together otherwise. It only works out to a small fraction of an egg per portion, so I should be fine). Mix well. Form into small patties and fry until golden. Handle with care so that they don’t break. Freeze leftovers.

Bento with millet salad and strawberry agar agar dessert.

The title says it all! I brought this bento box to lunch today, with a millet black bean salad, a strawberry agar agar dessert and a mini pita bread with raisins, cinnamon and apple (the pita was storebought).

Millet black bean salad (large portion)

  • cooked millet (not sure how much I used, about one cup dry)
  • 1 can black beans, preferably low sodium, rinsed well
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 large red onion, diced small
  • handful chopped cilantro
  • zest and juice of one lime
  • cumin
  • cayenne
  • dash olive oil

Mix it all together! Keeps fine in the fridge for a couple of days. I made a huge bowl which I have been serving up to hungry neighbors. It’s kept us from having to cook in the heat for several meals running.

Strawberry agar agar dessert (makes 6 fairly small ones)

  • strawberries
  • 1.5 cup juice (I used a low sugar cranberry white grape blend, but any should do. A clear one will look prettier, I think)
  • about 1 tsp agar agar, or according to package instructions

Slice strawberries and line the sides of a silicone muffin tin (you should need about one strawberry per unit). Boil juice and agar agar for 2-3 minutes, and gently pour into the tins, trying not to disturb the berries too much. Let cool. Agar agar will set at room temperature, but I recommend refrigerating. To unmold, cut around the edges with a small, sharp knife and then wiggle the mold until it comes out.

Bento staples: mini burgers

One of the most convenient things to put in a bento are frozen mini burgers, so I try every now and again to make a batch to have on hand. I don’t really have a recipe, so much, but they usually turn out well. I find that when I use chicken I don’t need to add a binder, but for veggie ones that can be a good idea.

Chicken burgers

You start with a pound of lean ground chicken. Then, you can add any flavors, really. I make them fairly small, about 12-15 per pound of meat. You can fry them or bake them in the oven (8-10 mins per side at 200C)

Some ideas:

a) Asian-style (vaguely bulgogi flavored)

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1-2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 chopped green onions
  • ginger
  • garlic
  • chili
  • (perhaps 1 tbsp brown sugar)

b) Indian-style

  • 4 chopped green onions
  • some minced ginger
  • some minced garlic
  • 1-2 tsp paprika powder
  • 1-2 tsp curry powder
  • perhaps some turmeric or other spices you have on hand

c) herbed

  • salt and pepper
  • chopped fresh herbs, or dry if you don’t have fresh, such as thyme, basil or italian herb mix or herbes de provence
  • garlic
  • perhaps some chopped onion

Veggie burgers

The easiest route is to take a can of beans.

a) Hummus burger

  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax seeds, 3 tbsp water, leave to form a goop)
  • can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1-2 tbsp of tahini
  • garlic
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

Use an immersion blender to make it into all a paste. If it is not sticking together well enough, add some rice flour or flour of your choice. Best fried. Careful, they are a bit fragile.

b) Black bean burgers

  • can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • a small chopped onion
  • some yellow and red bell pepper, diced finely
  • cumin
  • garlic
  • probably some rice flour

Use the immersion blender on about 3/4 of the beans and the garlic. Add the remaining ingredients and mix with a fork. Fry with care.

b) tofu red lentil burgers

Recipe here!

c) green pea burgers

Recipe here!

All of the burgers can be frozen, and then when you need them you just pick one out and put it frozen in the bento box. It will be thawed by lunchtime!

Finally, a bento.

The light was a bit weird, so struggled to get a good picture, but anyway. The main compartment has a gluten-free muffin (teff with coconut and apricot, OK but not quite successful enough to blog about), carrot sticks and a flower-shaped rice ball (onigiri). The smaller compartment has strawberries, some comtĂ© cheese and a black bean burger I made (can of black beans, red and yellow bell pepper, onion, cumin). Wasn’t bad.