sticking to my plan, i’ve prepared a simple and disposable lunch bento, with no frills or decorative accents. simplifying my take-to-work lunches to fit my work-night routine also means simplifying my bento photography… so i hope you don’t mind this quick, prop-less shot.
tomorrow’s lunch features a delicious, low-calorie recipe i tweaked over the weekend: spicy vegan jamaican patties. for those of you unfamiliar, a pattie is a savory, filled pastry — the jamaican version probably originated from the english/cornish pastie, but similar foods can be found in many other cultures (see, e.g. the latin american empanada). as a light and cooling accompaniment to this spicy treat, i made a fennel and green bean salad. both recipes after the jump…
spicy vegan jamaican patties, adapted from this vegetarian times recipe (makes six patties)
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 5 tbsp. earth balance vegan buttery spread
- 2 tsp. curry powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 3 tbsp. cold water (more as needed)
- cooking spray (e.g. PAM)
- 1 cup smart ground or your favorite vegetarian meat-like product (the original recipe called for tempeh, but i bet seitan or regular tofu — pressed to rid it of most of the moisture — would work well too)
- 1/2 cup chopped onions
- 1 tbsp. canola oil
- 2 tsp. minced garlic (2 cloves)
- 1 tsp. each dried thyme, hot red pepper flakes, and smoked paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- to make the dough, add all the dry ingredients to a food processor and pulse several times to mix. add the vegan margarine and continue pulsing until the mixture resembles crumbs, coarse but relatively uniform. add the cold water, 1 tbsp. at a time, until the mixture sticks to the side of the food processor.
- empty the mixture out onto a clean work surface, and press it together with your hands into a ball. loosely wrap it in plastic wrap and press it down into a thick disc. refrigerate for at least one hour.
- while the dough is refrigerating, make the filling: in a large sautee pan, cook the onions in the oil until translucent. add the garlic and dried spices, and mix with the onions until fragrant (30 seconds or so). add the tempeh and mix until spices and onions are evenly distributed. taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- after the dough has rested in the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 400, and take out the disc. on a clean work surface, roll it out to about 1/8″ thickness.
- using a large mug or a biscuit cutter, cut out rounds. you want 6 rounds in all; i find that cutting four, forming the scraps into a ball, and then re-rolling to get a new sheet from which to cut the last 2 works just fine. you don’t want to collect the scraps and re-roll more than once, though; the dough will get too tough.
- with your rolling pin, roll out each disc so that it’s just a bit thinner and larger. working one disc at a time, with the disc lying face up, spoon 1/6 of the filling (about 2-3 tbsp.) into the center of the disc, and then wet the outer face of the disc (just water is fine; you can use your fingertips or a pastry brush).
- fold the disc in half, pressing the outer edges together to seal the semi-circular pattie. using the tines of a fork, you can seal the edge more decoratively. repeat until you’ve used all the discs and filling.
- spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and lay each pattie down with no less than 1/2″ space between it and its neighbor(s). lightly spray the tops of each pattie and sprinkle with kosher salt.
- bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until patties are golden brown. the filling is already cooked so you are really just baking the crust.
these are great hot out of the oven or at room temperature. for those of you who really like it spicy, a vinegar-based hot sauce is great sprinkled on bite-by-bite; the slightly smoky spices in this also work well with mexican salsa as an accompaniment.
bonus: they keep well in the fridge for up to 4 days, and can be frozen as well.
fennel and green bean salad, adapted from this eating well recipe (makes four servings)
- about 12 oz. raw green beans
- one large fennel bulb (the one i used weighed about 14 oz. before i removed the top parts)
- leaves from the the inner-most stalks of a head of celery (the yellow-ish, tender ones)
- 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. dijon mustard
- juice of 1/2 a lemon (about 2 tbsp.)
- 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- salt & pepper to taste
- trim the green beans (remove all the stringy ends and discard any with brown spots). steam (i use a 2-tier bamboo steamer) and then shock in icy-cold water to try to preserve the bright green color (though the vinegar in the dressing will dull them after some time in the fridge). spin in a salad shaker or spread on paper towels to dry.
- remove the top parts of your fennel bulb (save the fronds for garnish). cut the remaining bulb into quarters, and then remove the tough heart portion from each quarter. finely slice the quarters length-wise (creating thin slices that are similar in length to the green beans).
- in a large bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, mustard and balsamic.
- add the green beans, fennel, and celery leaves into the bowl and lightly toss with your hands so that everything is coated. add salt & pepper to taste.
– ♥ –
rounding out this bento are a clementine, a steamed broccoli floret, and (hidden behind the pattie) a lindor dark chocolate truffle. yup, this healthy lunch is so low-calorie that i get to indulge in a piece of chocolate (LOVE). here’s the calorie breakdown for the meal:
- 1 vegan pattie: 190 calories (10.4 g. fat [2.7 g. saturated], 246 mg. sodium, 191 mg. potassium, 16.8 g. carbs [4 g. dietary fiber], 7.9 g. protein, 5.5% daily value of calcium, 9.5% daily value of iron)
- 1 serving of fennel and green bean salad: 86 calories (2.1 g. fat [0.2 g. saturated], 88 mg. sodium, 201 mg. potassium, 10 g. carbs [6.1 g. dietary fiber], 3.3 g. protein, 22% daily value of vitamin A, 30.7% daily value of vitamin C, 3.7% daily value of calcium, 12% daily value of iron)
- 1 steamed broccoli floret: 6 calories (0 g. fat, 4 mg. sodium, 0.8 g. carbs [0.4 g. dietary fiber], 10% vitamin C)
- 2 grape tomatoes: 4 calories (0.2 g. fat, 1 mg. sodium, 48.5 mg. potassium, 1 g. carbs [0.2 g. dietary fiber], 3.3% daily value of vitamin A, 4.3% daily value of vitamin C)
- 1 clementine: 40 calories (0.2 g fat, 200 mg. potassium, 8.5 g. carbs [2 g. dietary fiber], 145% daily value of vitamin C)
- lindor dark chocolate truffle: 74 calories (6 g. fat [4.5 g. saturated], 2 gm. cholesterol, 4 mg. sodium, 5 g. carbs [5 g. sugars], 0.7 g. protein, 2% daily value of calcium, 4% daily value of iron)
TOTAL: 400 calories — perfection!