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Mediterranean Bento Recipe

Mediterranean Bento

Prep Time 5min

A Mediterranean-themed bento is packed with red pepper hummus, whole wheat pita wedges, Kalamata olives, red pepper strips, tabbouleh, rice-stuffed grape leaves and grape tomato fill-ins. Waxed muffin liners and small containers with lids keep the foods separate.

A Note on Bento: Bento is, very simply put, a Japanese lunchbox that's making waves across the U.S.. Traditionally made with rice, meat, poultry or fish and pickled or other cooked vegetables, bento can be as intricate or simple as you'd like. The bento I send always come back empty and the kids prefer them to the usual bagged lunch.

Bento boxes can be as simple or elaborate as the food they hold, from laquered boxes with built-in dividers to reuseable plastic containers available just about everywhere lately. It's important to keep moist foods separate from dry foods to decrease the risk of spoilage. Silicone muffin liners are ideal for keeping foods separate, but anything from dry lettuce leaves to waxed paper works as well.

While leftovers are perfect, any food that tastes as good chilled as it does hot will do. To keep foods cold until lunch time, small condiment packets like kethcup, mustard, mayo or relish, when frozen, are the perfect size ice-pack whether meant to be consumed or not.

Fill-ins help food keep its shape and stay put; some ideas for fill-ins are grape tomatoes, grapes, baby carrots, individually wrapped cheeses and dried fruit. Experiment with your own kids' favorites and have fun with it, your kids will have the most envied lunches at school.

by Anne Coleman

What you'll need

Red Pepper Hummus:

  • 2 cups cooked and drained garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • 1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup seeded and chopped red pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon or 4 Tablespoons

Notes:

Red Pepper Hummus yields 2 cups

How to make it

  1. Toss everything into a blender and pulse until smooth.
  2. Cover and chill until serving time.

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