At my house, bento or brown bag lunch are reserved for special occasions. I associate these on-the-go meals with good times like picnic or road trip or hiking so of course they are special. Just the other day, I realized my BF and I share a little tradition. We live in different cities and it’s a long drive for him to visit. After spending a weekend together, I always pack him a lunch to enjoy on his drive home. It’s usually just a couple of sandwiches, some cheeses, perhaps a bit of cured meat, and some fruit and nuts for dessert. There were a few times I wanted to pack him a bento but always changed my mind last minute because I could not bear to part with any of the bento boxes in my collection.
I don’t have a large bento box collection but it’s certainly big enough for someone who doesn’t pack bento on a daily basis. Most pieces were purchased abroad during travels and some have been with me since I was a kid. Needless to say, I feel rather attached and would definitely be devastated if I lose any of them. My collection includes a cream-colour faux lacquer box from franc franc, a mix & match set from Muji with silicone dividers, a tiny plaid set I have for twenty years, a cheap red one that I use for pungent food, a flat clear one with lots of dividers, and a family-size box that comes with plates. There must be others lurking in my kitchen but those are the ones I reach for the most. I was shopping at J-Town today and saw some cheap and cheery boxes among their new merchandises at a very reasonable price. The collection comes in different shapes and sizes for the boxes with matching cutlery sets, elastic bands, and carrying bags. At under $5 for each piece, I could not resist the good deal. I picked out a green and brown two-tier box with cutlery compartment and bright pink elastic band, all for under $13CAD! This would be the dedicated bento box for the BF.
Obviously, with a new toy in my hand, I had to put it through field test. I play up the green colour theme and filled it with lots of fresh summer vegetable.
The large tier is filled with Cannellini Bean Summer Salad in Sherry Vinaigrette. This is my clear-the-fridge salad making use of all the odds and ends kicking around. The salad contains Rancho Gordo cannellini beans, grape tomatoes, blanched snap peas, cucumber chunks, shaved fennel, feta cheese, red onion, parsley, mint, and tarragon. The smaller tier is packed with Sweet Green Peas with Black Sesame, white radishes, and hardboiled egg. Here is one neat trick that I used when preparing for the bento. While the egg came to rolling boil, I filled a strainer ladle with a handful of shelled green peas. I lowered the ladle into the boiling water for about 30 seconds without letting any peas escape. Once the 30 seconds was up, I ran cold tap water over the cooked peas for the easiest blanching ever. This little time-saving trick is useful if you only need to blanch a small portion of vegetable in your bento.
I absolutely adore the colour coordination between container and content! Well, I better stop staring at my new purchase. After all, if I like it too much, I may not want to send it home with my BF…and then I’ll have to buy him another one!