quinoa falafel halloween bento

7 10 2012

tomorrow’s lunch is a holiday-themed, healthy twist on a few dishes i love: falafel balls and greek rice. for my falafel, i used a mix from earthly choice brand, and added some middle-eastern flavor (cumin spice and smoked paprika).  the balls are baked instead of fried.  for the “rice,” i used powercakes’ rice-free recipe, pulsing raw cauliflower in the food processor with other raw vegetables and kalamata olives for the briny zing. a cute carved jack-o-pepper with a spider pick gives some halloween flair to the lunch.  click through for details.

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grilled eggplant quinoa salad

30 08 2012

another day, another quinoa salad, right?!  lately i feel like i have been obsessed with quinoa… but in all seriousness, it’s so tasty, and so good for you compared to other rice-y/grain-y options!

a while back, i received a few bottles of chile olive oil because of my participation in an HGEats twitter chat.  although i have significantly reduced the amount of oils i use in my cooking, there is always room for some good “healthy” fat, and i knew i wanted to save these samples for something special.  this past weekend, my parents came over for a combined birthday brunch (my mom’s birthday and mine are just five days apart!), and i whipped up this salad with veg from my CSA share.  it’s TIU-approved and is actually quite versatile — delicious with the veggies still warm from the grill, still delicious chilled in the fridge the next day.  click through for the recipe and olive oil review.

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“summer chill” quinoa salad bento

28 06 2012

quinoa — which is actually a seed, not a grain — is a superfood that i’ve used before (see exhibit A and exhibit B).  but since getting on the tone it up nutrition plan, which requires me to avoid starchy foods in the evenings, i’ve been turning to it more frequently as an accompaniment to lean proteins or as the base for refreshing salads.  the salad in today’s lunchbox is a perfect “summer chill” concoction, full of fresh seasonal veg and piquant flavor — i made it for some girlfriends coming over to hang out and drink wine on my roofdeck.  click through recipe and nutrition info.

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happy matryoshka bento

25 04 2011

tonight for dinner i made an awesome pan-seared cod dish, served with shitake-miso-arugula-quinoa salad (recipe below) and a fat slice of oven-roasted beefsteak tomato.

for tomorrow’s lunch, which is my last passover lunch for the year (YAY!), i packed some of the cod beneath a layer of the quinoa salad, topped with a cheese-and-nori matryoshka.  the side portion has steamed broccoli, a fish sausage heart, steamed asparagus, sweet potato “doilies”, pea pods, and a lettuce border.

quinoa has been a controversial grain for those observing passover — because it was not a part of the diet of the jews who fled slavery in egypt, it was never placed on the list of forbidden passover foods, even though it expands like rice and other forbidden grains.  that’s good enough for me, and because quinoa is protein-packed, it’s a nice change from rice.

the basic recipe is simple, and the number of potential add-ins is infinite.  here’s the combo i came up with tonight:

shitake-miso-arugula-quinoa salad (if you can come up with a better name, let me know!)

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 8 medium shitake caps, julienned
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • olive oil to coat a medium skillet
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. shiro miso paste
  • 3 big handfuls of arugula
  • pepper to taste
  1. coat your skillet with olive oil and heat it up.  add the sliced garlic and julienned shitake caps, and sautee until golden.
  2. add the quinoa to the pan and stir until it’s evenly toasted but not burned.  (this is the same process you would use when making risotto and toasting the arborio rice prior to adding liquid.)
  3. in a separate pot, bring 2 cups of water to boil, and then whisk in the miso paste.
  4. add the quinoa-shitake-garlic mixture to the boiling miso broth, cover and reduce to a low simmer.  allow to cook for 10-15 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed and the individual quinoa grains are plumped.  turn off heat and leave lid on to steam for an additional 2 to 5 minutes.
  5. transfer the quinoa-shitake-garlic mixture to a mixing bowl, and fold in the arugula.  it will steam/wilt in this process; make sure fold until it’s evenly incorporated.

that’s it!  it’s good hot or cold, and very nutritious.





faux strawberries bento

28 06 2010

hey!  i know, it’s been forever since i posted!  quick life update:  left my law firm job and am thinking of transitioning back into museum work; have been to las vegas, new orleans, and philadelphia (twice) in the last three weeks visiting friends, seeing art, eating tons of food, and celebrating a birthday girl and a bride; and am still exploring the new food and craft spots in my new neighborhood and fine-tuning the decor details in the new[-ish] apartment.  lots going on, but i hope to get back on a regular bento schedule soon… starting today, in fact!

this bento has two “strawberries” cut from red pepper with mint leaves and white cheese “seeds” (cut from a straw section with one end pinched to make it pointier for a tear-drop shape).  my strawberries are resting on savory quinoa salad (recipe below) topped with the thinnest possible layer of plain quinoa (for better color contrast against the red pepper flesh).  the rest of the box has steamed broccoli with two carrot butterflies, sliced radish, takuwan flowers, vegetarian ham-wrapped okra, a grape tomato cut in half, and a few blueberries.

hope you have all been enjoying your summer travels, projects, and whatever else you’re up to!

savory quinoa salad with goat cheese, thyme and mint

  • 1 cup of quinoa, 2 cups water (you can halve or double the recipe if you want, but keep the 1 quinoa:2 water ratio the same!)
  • 2 springs fresh thyme (pull the tiny leaves off and discard the woody stem)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped (i used the leftovers from cutting out the “strawberries”)
  • 1/4 small red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic (can be omitted for a lighter, more subtly flavored salad)
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms (i actually used some leftover stems from mushroom caps that the boyfriend stuffed for sunday brunch)
  • 2-3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. goat cheese per serving (this recipe makes 2 servings so i used about half of the pre-packaged cheese “log”, but you may want to add more or less)
  • mint for garnish
  1. add your quinoa and water to a saucepan, and bring the mixture up to a boil.  as soon as it’s boiling, reduce it to the lowest simmer possible, and stir every 2-3 minutes until the water is absorbed.  the total cooking time should be 10-15 minutes counting the time to boil.  (another method is to bring the quinoa to a boil, make sure it’s tightly covered, and turn the flame completely off, letting it steam for about 15 minutes until cooked.)  when the quinoa is cooked, fluff with a fork.
  2. add most of your olive oil to a small pan, and cook all your veggies until the peppers are tender and the onions translucent.  turn the flame off and incorporate the fresh thyme.
  3. in a bowl, fold the sautéed vegetables into the cooked quinoa, and drizzle the rest of the olive oil over top.  crumble some goat cheese on top (it melts into a deliciously gooey texture over the warm salad), and garnish with a mint sprig or some julienned mint.

so fast and easy… a perfect summer salad!

[as seen on more design please]





portobello slider bento

15 12 2009


yummy leftovers from dinner tonight with the boyfriend at counter, a vegetarian restaurant in our neighborhood.

top portion: portobello slider with rosemary mayo on a tiny cute poppy seed bun. purple carrot skewers, cherry tomatoes, and olive skewers, and two carrot-cheese flowers. bottom portion: leftover confit fingerling potatoes, red quinoa-and-fennel salad, roasted eggplant with pom seeds and cumin, and red saurkraut. topped with a few carrot music notes and cheese stars.

doily, kids’ chopsticks, and the last gummy cherry candy.