vegan pattie bento

30 01 2012

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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. in a large bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, mustard and balsamic.
  4. 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!



22 responses

30 01 2012

Yay! *pats your back*
Looks like a low-cal, healthy, and substantial bento for you. And the fresh nutritious ingredients provide all the beauty necessary without the need for cute extras and props. You have a great start on your new bento tradition!

30 01 2012

thanks sheri! the patties are really yummy, some of my low-cal meals leave me hungry but this one is truly a winner. i loved the colors of this, too (that’s why i just kept it simple with the neutral paper and background)… a great thing about this new bento mission is that it’s forcing me to remember how beautiful food can be in its natural simplicity! love it!

30 01 2012

Hey, great bento and great pic! Really, I like the adults bento version – I am a working person and I am adult enough to better don’t the childish stuff – my (man type) colleages would simply do one: LOL. But one thing I would never accept – to day-by-day shorten my breaktime too much: It’s my break/my time and I take my time to eat once during all that work at least. I really like my job, but I have learnt my lesson ..

31 01 2012

thanks bentolily — i agree that working in an open office plan (no private or enclosed space for my desk) has changed my bento mentality (bentality?) a little bit. it’s not that i’m *embarrassed* of my creations, at all, but the childish decorative touches seem a bit indulgent and out of place here. but i’m with you 100% — it’s still important to make that time for yourself each day, to focus on what you’re putting in your body and on your own thoughts!

31 01 2012
Lia Chen

Hi Megan! I missed your first post after your long break, glad to catch up and see your bento again. Don’t worry about the props. Your bento looks beautiful and nutritious without them (^.^)

31 01 2012

thanks lia, so good to “see” you! you are so sweet to be supportive of my quick and plain shot… hope all is well with A&A and hubby!

31 01 2012
BentoBliss / Ingrid

Great job ! And nothing like a little piece of chocolate to reward you for your low calories efforts. 🙂 The patties sound interesting, I might try my hand at those next weekend (it seems a bit complicated to do in a hurry on a weeknight). I never realised you could eat fennel raw. I always braise them with a bit of apple. Another thing I’ll need to try …

31 01 2012

hi ingrid — the patties are definitely a week-end recipe, but it makes enough to be a quick, grab-and-go convenience food for the rest of the week, which is fab. and chocolate rewards are KEY for me (i am a firm believer that life is not worth living without chocolate)!

31 01 2012

Zippy, light and lovely bento! The orange slices look beautiful and so tonic! Fennel salad sounds delish, crisp and refreshing. (Confession–the NYC pizzeria-style Jamaica patties are my original guilty pleasure!) Have a wonderful day…

31 01 2012

haha, glad you are a pattie fan jenn — doesn’t surprise me one bit with your adventurous zest for eating. i had this same meal over the weekend and the fennel really is a nice counterpoint. thanks for stopping by and hope you have a great day too!

31 01 2012

Thank you for this recipe! I am just starting to introduce meat substitues in my regular diet so I am looking for cooking ideas: this is definitely a very good one!

31 01 2012

i so hope you enjoy it pipaw! if this isn’t the recipe for you, i do recommend using the “smart ground” product in chili — that’s one of my all-time favorite recipes, and it keeps the meat substitute product really moist. here is my basic (but very flexible) recipe. good luck experimenting!!

1 02 2012

Thank you very much for your reply and suggestions. I don’t know whether this brand is available in Europe but I will probably find something approaching at my local organic food shop. Thanks again for sharing. this veggie chili seems yummy!

31 01 2012

Beautiful photography! I would be totally proud of myself if I could take pictures like you do… props or not… just made me drooling on the pattie (eew, could you Lily). And yet, vegan! Super score!

31 01 2012

haha lil wish i could send you a pattie to drool on yours, not mine! i enjoyed this so much, and it’s so portable — might be good for your girls. thanks as always for your sweet comment!

2 02 2012
Cooking gallery

This is a simple lunch but it still looks gorgeous and delicious!! Your photos are always a pleasure to look at :)!

P.S. I am happy to see you back blogging again :)!

2 02 2012

thanks so much cooking gallery, it WAS delicious!

2 02 2012

This looks so simple and delicious – Jamaican patties make me happy but vegan versions make me elated! ^^ I love your bentos!

18 04 2012

I’m loving your blog, and I’m so glad I found it. I just thought I’d mention that liquid egg whites aren’t vegan, (being an animal product.) You might want to mention that, or recommend a substitution in case someone wants to make these for a vegan friend, and they aren’t aware of that. Great blog, and I’ll keep reading. 🙂

18 04 2012

thanks so much for pointing that put jen! the egg white is not a part of the dough – it is just used to “glaze” the patties before baking so that they brown. a light spray with cooking spray would work just as well, or this step could be totally omitted!

4 08 2013

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lovers however this paragraph is actually a pleasant paragraph, keep it up.

17 01 2017
Mãe diz em texto sofrer com preconceito por dieta vegana do filho – VEG

[…] Um “bentô” vegano do site Bento Zen ( […]

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