roasted eggplant soba bento

7 02 2012

a quick lunch tomorrow (in my new bento & co. “origami bento,” bought on karaimame’s brilliant suggestion), made up of leftovers from batch dinner cooking i did earlier this week, plus a pantry item.  recipes and calorie count below.

roasted eggplant soba (makes 2 servings)

  • one bundle of buckwheat soba noodles (about 3.1 oz; packages of soba usually come in three bundles)
  • half of a regular-sized (e.g. approx. 1 lb.) eggplant
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. miso paste
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 scallions, plus chopped scallions for garnish
  1. preheat your oven to 375.  spray your eggplant with cooking spray and place on a baking sheet, cut side down.  bake the eggplant for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the eggplant has shrunk in volume by about 1/3 and the skin is wrinkly.  allow to cool.
  2. in a pot of salted, boiling water, cook your soba until al dente.  drain but don’t rinse.
  3. into a blender or food processor, scoop the soft interior of the eggplant (the flesh should separate easily from the skin if it’s fully roasted).  add the other ingredients (reserving the chopped scallions for garnish) and puree.
  4. in a bowl, mix the still-warm soba noodles and the eggplant puree.  the warm noodles are better for soaking up the sauce.
  5. serve warm, or refrigerate the mixture and serve chilled.

japanese cucumber salad (adapted from this eating well recipe; makes 4 servings)

  • 1 1/2 english seedless cucumbers
  • 4 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp. distilled white vinegar
  • 3 packets of splenda (or other artificial sweetener of your choice — but be careful, not all of these are equally sweet, so adjust as necessary)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. sesame seeds (toasted, if you like)
  1. cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise, and using a teaspoon, scoop the interior seeded portion out and discard.  cut into thin, C-shaped slices.
  2. in a large bowl, mix the vinegar, salt, and splenda.
  3. add the cucumbers and toss to coat with the vinegar mixture.
  4. sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and serve immediately, or chill in the refrigerator before serving.  keeps well in a plastic container for several days.

curried kabocha soup (makes 4 servings of approx. 1 1/2 cups each; inspired by this vegetarian times recipe)

  • 1 small/medium kabocha squash (when roasted, makes about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 5 cloves roasted garlic
  • 2 tsp. raw, grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth (i use trader joe’s)
  • 2 to 3 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 oz. 0% fat greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar (optional; for garnish)
  1. preheat your oven to 375.  cut the kabocha in half, and spray the cut edges with cooking spray.
  2. taking a whole head of garlic, slice the top off, so that the tip of each clove has a cut, exposed edge.  drizzle in 1 tsp. olive oil and wrap the whole head in foil.
  3. place the wrapped-garlic package on a foil-covered baking sheet.  cover the package with one kabocha half (cut side down), and place the other kabocha half (also cut side down) next to it.  place the tray in the oven and roast for 45 min. to one hour, or until a fork can easily and cleanly be inserted into the kabocha flesh.  (if you are making the roasted eggplant soba, why not get double duty out of your oven, and roast all these veggies at once?)
  4. when the kabocha is fully roasted, take it out of the oven and allow to cool.  allow the garlic to cool as well, and once cooled, individual cloves can be easily squeezed out of their papery skin.  extra cloves can be saved in a plastic container for several days.
  5. while the squash is cooling, spray a large saucepan or wok with cooking spray and bring up to high heat.  add the chopped onion and once translucent, add the grated ginger and dry spices, mixing until they are fragrant.
  6. using a soup spoon, separate the cooled kabocha flesh from its skin and scoop into a food processor or blender.  squeeze five of the roasted garlic cloves into the blender, and scoop the cooked onions/spice mixture into the blender as well.  add the vegetable broth and puree until smooth.  add between 2 and 3 cups of water (a half-cup at a time), until soup has thinned out to your liking.
  7. pour the blended mixture back into your sautee pan/wok and bring up to a simmer.  add the  salt and pepper to taste.
  8. at this point you may either add the yogurt and stir until blended throughout, or you may serve with a dollop of yogurt on each bowl as a garnish.  you may also garnish with a drizzle of balsamic.

— ♥ —

i think this is a really nice, hearty meal… i had it for dinner one night this week already and loved the combination of asian-inspired flavors.  the origami box folds and unfolds quite easily once you get the hang of it, and i love that you can just rinse the whole thing off and throw it in your tote bag without worrying about the bulk of a regular container.  the container the soup is stored in, on the other hand, is quite substantial — it’s more of a corningware type, with a locking plastic lid (not shown) that has a vent for letting out steam when you heat food in the microwave.  it’s supposed to be healthier to use than regular plastic (no BPAs), but because of the weight i’ll have to see if it’s actually practical… it may just end up hanging out at work as a paperclip bowl.

anyway, this was easy to throw together since all the food was already pre-made and pre-portioned (and the soup was already stored in several of these containers).  with just one disposable baran, i saved time on decoration.  and the photo was quick, too; i didn’t even bother to add text.  here’s the calorie count:

  • roasted eggplant soba, 230 calories (2.3 g. fat [0.2 g. saturated], 1111.2 mg. sodium, 379.6 mg. potassium, 40.6 g. carbs [6.3 g. dietary fiber, 6.3 g. sugar], 10.5 g. protein, 5.2% daily value of vitamin A, 12.5% daily value of vitamin C, 5.5% daily value of calcium, 6.5% daily value of iron)
  • japanese cucumber salad, 54 calories (1.3 g. fat [0.2 g. saturated], 827.1 mg. sodium, 145.8 mg. potassium, 11.4 g. carbs [0.8 g. dietary fiber, 9.1 g. sugar], 1.0 g. protein)
  • curried kabocha soup, 92 calories (0.9 g. fat [0 g. saturated], 85.2 mg. sodium, 123.6 mg. potassium, 16.8 g. carbs [2.8 g. dietary fiber, 7.9 g. sugar], 4.5 g. protein, 71% daily valueof vitamin A, 22.6% daily value of vitamin C, 6.4% daily value of calcium, 5.1% daily value of iron)
  • pickled myoga ginger (1 piece = approx. 20 g.), 9 calories (0 g. fat, 300 mg. sodium, 1.5 g. carbs)

TOTAL: 385 calories — really not bad for this volume of food.  as you can see from the stats above, kabocha is really the nutritional powerhouse of this meal; it’s vitamin-packed and super low-cal, especially considering what it brings to the table in terms of flavor.



21 responses

7 02 2012

hmm.. nice egg plant and cute bento box..and a sip of the hot soup will be perfect!

8 02 2012

thanks florence! hot soup on a cold winter day is one of life’s treats, i agree!

7 02 2012

so yummy and refreshing–I love the myoga element and supreme stylishness of your red and white bento box!

8 02 2012

thanks jenn! i like that this box has a more low-key, “adult” style. i pickled the myoga with red shiso leaves — have you ever tried this?

7 02 2012
Lia Chen

Megan, Is very nice to see your beautiful bento and your healthy cooking at the same time. In between your work and busy life, you can still manage a healthy eating and that really inspire us (^.^)

8 02 2012

thanks so much lia! i decided that the healthy cooking is what’s most important to me right now, hope that resonates with some readers even without all the decoration… but i still love looking at bentolicious for the cutest designs!

8 02 2012

Wow, that’s a really cool folding origami bento box! What a great idea. So is it pretty leakproof on the bottom, and how does the lid attach? That looks like a perfect solution for you. The soup bowl is more of a problem, I’d agree, but I’m with you about it being better than plastic. Maybe you could bring the soup in a disposable yogurt container, then transfer it to the bowl at work, then toss the yogurt cup? The soup sounds fantastic, by the way!

8 02 2012

hi sheri — the part of the box that looks like the bottom in this pic (with the red squares and snaps) is actually the top, so it just rests there and is secured by the band. the plastic is definitely leak proof, but only if the box is totally upright — so this one is not for kids’ backpacks, unfortunately.

keeping the soup container at work and transporting the actual soup in a recycled container is a great idea, thanks!!

8 02 2012

Beautiful and elegant as always! Megan, you have inspired me so much! I really see obento making as a wonderful artform to sustain beauty in my everday life; not just cute food to entertain my little ones. Me and my hubby get at least 20mins of lunchtime artistry because I’ve spent months watching the gorgeousness you’ve come up with here.

8 02 2012

thanks berrygirl! makes me feel wonderful to hear my efforts here have gotten someone else’s creative juices flowing 🙂

8 02 2012

Yay! So you got one of those boxes! Very nice to see in action… the eggplant soba looks astonishing good with the myoga deco-touch!
Wish I could think about a better solution for your soup (yum, kabocha soup can’t get any better, can it ) …

8 02 2012

thanks lil, it was a great idea, and working out well so far. and don’t you just love myoga?! hard to get here so i pickle mine to make them last longer.

sheri had a good idea for the soup: leave the microwave-able bowl at work, and bring the soup in a yogurt (or ricotta, or other re-used) container to transfer prior to heating. leave it to my supportive bento gals to creatively brainstorm solutions 🙂

8 02 2012

I have one of those origami boxes and I like it too. Easy to clean and store, that’s for sure. I think I might buy another one in a different colour when I next order some bento gear. The soup sounds delicious and a perfect winter meal. Never heard of the pickled myoga ginger before, but it sit lovely in the box. Like some kind of exotic flower.

8 02 2012

thanks for your comment ingrid. myoga actually *is* a flower — the flower of the ginger plant. (see hope you try the soup, so hearty and flavorful and very easy to make!

8 02 2012

Hi megan, I have not pickled myoga ginger (yet!)–hard to imagine a more wonderfully subtle, essence-of-Japan flavor than myoga overlaid with that of red shiso. wowwww!

8 02 2012

so easy jenn, i hope you try it. i am sure there are infinite ways you can tweak the basic recipe, but i did 2 parts rice wine vinegar to 1 part distilled white vinegar, mixed with 1 packet of splenda and 1/2 tsp. of salt per 1 cup of pickling liquid. i washed out an old dill pickle jar, brought the liquid to a boil, put the myoga (along with some lotus and daikon slices) and the red shiso leaves into the jar (making sure nothing was stacked flat on top of each other, e.g. leaving lots of space between items), and poured the boiling vinegar mixture on top. refrigerate, and after about 24 hours you’ll start to see the pink color from the red shiso leaves leaching out into the liquid. give it a shake. delish!

8 02 2012

Reblogged this on Jots & Thoughts and commented:
Been looking for a good cucumber salad recipe…

11 02 2012

Fab myoga pickles recipe, thanks a million for sharing! Wishing you a tasty and fun weekend, megan!!

12 02 2012

Hello !!! This photo is so beautiful !! I love the warm colors and the wood, they really give a cosy atmosphere, which is exactly what I need with all that snow outside !! The soup makes me warm just by seeing it. And the soba look delicious 🙂 !!!

13 02 2012

This looks so delicious, colourful and appetising. I love that you coloured the myoga with shiso. We have some in the garden now just begging to be brought in and set to work. I’m loving your healthy take on lunch. I’m looking for inspiration for my boy off to college in a few weeks. Anything to stave off unhealthy student dorm food. Although*sigh* once out of the nest I guess there will be plenty of that. You are doing a wonderful and needed job with this blog.

19 02 2012

Very cute and simple – I’ve always loved your bentos! ^^

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