Monday, September 26, 2011

Back to Bento - With Photos

The other day I made a beautiful pork loin -- the simple way.  Marinated it in soy sauce, Sprite, and garlic.  Browned all sides and roasted it until done.  It was just perfect.

The pork loin put me in the mood for bento boxes.  This week I was actually able to buy spinach in a bunch at the market;  I love it for the spinach knobs because the stems add a nice crunch and they make them look so interesting.  Here's what is in my boxes:
I love the spinach knobs I learned to make from JustBento.  They are such a favorite that our family of 7 will eat three bunches of spinach in minutes.  I thinks the seasoned sauce is what makes the difference.

I have adapted Maki's sauce in the following way:
Firstly, I quadruple it because there are so many of us!  I sub in tahini for the sesame seeds, rice-wine vinegar for the mirin and I add a squirt of mustard to help emulsify it and because it takes great with spinach.  I know all the changes make it not very Japanese.  But I suppose that's perfect since I am Italian-Scotch-Irish American lady with a rainbow of a family! 

Here's my version of the Sesame Sauce for Spinach:
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tblsp. Tahini
2 Tblsp. Sugar
Squirt mustard (maybe 1/2 tsp)
Roasted sesame seeds for sprinkling

Whisk all this together.  It keeps well in fridge a couple of weeks.  It will never last that long. 
This photo shows everything coming together on the stove.

All ready for assembly

Filled boxes.  These two get sauce bottles because they will leave the house.  For we homebodies I just keep the sauce in the fridge.  The carrots are hiding under the spinach knobs.

Here is what the boxes look like assembled.  I love the stacking ones like the green one -- they are so clever!   All of these are very inexpensive boxes (from the Chinese equivalent of dollar store) so I don't have to worry if one gets lost or damaged.

This super smart one was purchased by Pepper in San Francisco;  I love the way it keeps her utensils and chopsticks so handy. 

For five bento boxes, I use 3 bunches of spinach, four zuchinni (big ones) and 3 carrots.  That is a lot of veggie servings per person.  And the spinach knobs are so delicious and fun, my kids actually fight over them.

Is it quick to make bento lunches?  Sometimes.  This time it was not, it took about an hour counting numerous interventions by my preschoolers.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely.  I spent an hour making lunches for my entire family that are not only appetizing, they are healthy, colorful and fun to eat! .

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