Main: Anda bhurji (spicy Indian scrambled eggs) with buttered toast soliders.
Sides: Spanakopita and sweet corn.
Fruits/Vegetables: Snow peas and red grapes.
Today’s bento is pretty simple. Anda Bhurji is a style of hard scrambled eggs that is very popular in India. It can be served as a main meal, a side dish, or even a snack. In North India, it’s usually served with a parantha or two, but I hear that in South India, it’s served with pav (a soft white bread). Today, it was easier to just do toast soliders, although in the future I should really try sending it off with paranthas.
Given the relative richness of the eggs and toast, I kept everything else fairly simple. I baked up some Spanakopita triangles in the toaster oven, because who doesn’t love some Spanakopita in their lunch, and then added some sweet corn, snow peas, and red grapes. I almost added some blueberries as well, but decided not to at the last minute. I mean, clearly, it would have been too much. Right?
Main: Butter chicken with naan.
Sides: Pickled onions and roasted brussels sprouts.
Fruits/Vegetables: Broccoli and cherry tomatoes.
Snack: Strawberry yogurt.
While I was making this batch of naan, I realized something important: I need to write down my naan recipe. It’ll give me a definitive recipe so that I’m not always choosing a recipe at more or less random and then winging it when I don’t like what the recipe in front of me has to say. I have yet to find an existing recipe that does everything right.
The problem, really, is that naan is meant to be baked in a tandoor, and western ovens just don’t get that hot. Over the years, I’ve pretty much perfected my technique for shaping and baking naan through a process of mashing together every trick and technique I could find on the internet. It results in a tender, buttery, better-than-the-restaurant naan. All I need to do is write it down.
The pickled onions in this bento were made from this recipe. It calls for red onions, but I wound up using yellow onions because, (sigh) the desire to make this didn’t hit me until almost midnight last night. I worked from what I had on hand, which happened to be everything but the red onions.
Calling this soup comfort food doesn’t do it justice. This soup is comfort. I first read this recipe at Tea & Cookies, and Tara’s reminiscences about this soup and her student days in Vienna stayed at the back of my mind for four years. Every so often, I’d think about that post and this recipe and think, “You know, I should really make that.”
Last year, I finally got around to it, and the soup was every bit as delicious as the recipe promised. It really is a soup version of garlic bread.
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 10 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/4 cup sifted flour
- 3/4 cup milk, at room temperature or slightly warm
- 1 1/2 cup chicken (or vegetable) stock
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley, plus additional for garnish
- 2 slices crusty bread, cubed
- Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan
- Add the garlic and sauté at low heat, taking care to not let it brown.
- Once the garlic has softened (5-10 min), slowly add the flour, whisking continuously.
- The flour will form a thick paste. Pour the milk in a thin stream, whisking constantly.
- Add the chicken broth, and bring to a simmer.
- Once the soup has thickened, add the 2tbsp of parsley.
- Toast the bread cubes in a toaster oven or bake in a regular oven until the cubes are nicely golden brown.
- Garnish with extra parsley and bread cubes.
Recipe Source: Tea & Cookies’ Garlic Soup at Midnight
Main: Quesadillas made with caramelized onions and serrano peppers, salsa, and sour cream.
Sides: Black beans and lemon-roasted green beans with almonds.
Fruits/Vegetables: Kiwi fruit and apple slices.
Snack: Blueberry yogurt.
Quesadillas are one of my favorite go-to foods for packing quick bentos. They lose some of their crispness after being packed in a bento, but retain 100% of their deliciousness. Besides, the two people for whom I make bentos both have access to toaster ovens, which I am told are excellent devices for acquiring extra crispness to replace that which has been lost. (Okay, I’ll stop. I get loopy when I get too little sleep)
The green beans are the real stars of this bento. I based them off of this recipe, by which I mean that I read the recipe and then completely disregarded everything it had to say on the subject of quantities. I just grabbed a handful of green beans, split a quarter of an onion into three wedges, tossed the lot with a bit of olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, and marjoram, and shoved it into the toaster oven to bake at 450°F for about 20 minutes. When they were done, I added some lemon juice, some lemon zest, some sliced almonds, and called it done. Even with such little care in the preparation, these turned out to be the best green beans I’ve ever tried, and I say that as a passionate life-long hater of green beans. (You read that right. I hate green beans but I liked these ones.)
The blueberry yogurt is made the same way I make all of my fruit yogurts. I mince up the fruit, drop some into the bottom of the container, sprinkle in the sugar, tap firmly to settle the contents, spoon greek yogurt on top, and add some garnish. By the time the guys get to it at lunchtime, the sugar has done a pretty good job of macerating the fruit, and a quick stir will produce a delicious not-too-sweet yogurt.
Main: Moroccan spiced chicken breasts with basmati rice.
Sides: Roast brussels sprouts and sauteed onions and peppers.
Fruits/Vegetables: Strawberries and orange chunks.
Snacks: Cottage cheese with pineapple jam.
Today’s bento was an exercise in just how long a bento can take if you don’t have a plan before you even start. I realized at about midnight last night that I hadn’t put together this week’s menu plan and I had no leftovers around which to plan Monday’s lunch. Eep.
Richard saved my bacon by starting the rice before I’d even woken up. (One of the few up sides to being on call, I suppose.) Even so, today’s bento took well over an hour to prepare, cool, and assemble.
I had some chicken marinating for tonight’s dinner, but opted to cook it up this morning instead. While the chicken cooked, I halved some brussels sprouts, tossed them with a bit of olive oil and sea salt, and then set those up to bake in the toaster oven. Next, I sliced up an onion and a pepper, and got those cooking in another pan.
Side Note: I’m pretty proud of the cottage cheese and pineapple jam presentation. I used our smallest cookie cutter to keep the cottage cheese and jam separate until I’d filled the container, and then slowly removed the cookie cutter while pushing the jam back down into place. It worked out just the way I thought it would, which is always nice when that happens.