Posts Tagged ‘bento’

Veggie Salad + Ricotta Salata

October 29, 2014

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This lunch includes some leftover chicken from takeout, sliced apple, and quick-pickled dill-radish salad atop carrot slices and arugula with chopped hazelnuts and batons of ricotta salata to eat as is or to crumble on the salad.

Today I’m giving an example of how I pack my Laptop Lunch box.

Salad for lunch again is boring! Usually. This time, though, salty ricotta salata and crunchy hazelnuts save the day. Thanks to my CSA delivery, I frequently have a lot of fresh vegetables to use in my lunch box. The challenge for me is to get away from the usual carrot sticks/radish slices and pack an exciting lunch. I’m not the kind of person who will pass up restaurant lunch for carrot sticks!

I almost always pack my lunch the night before. This time, the radishes were sliced, then packed by themselves in an apple cider vinegar, diced shallot, and olive oil dressing with sprigs of dill. They marinated in one of my spill-proof medium containers. In the medium open-top container, I put arugula, carrot slices, and ricotta salata so that nothing would get too soggy. For the same reason, the toasted hazelnuts went into the smallest container and that went into the section with the sliced apple. Everything fit neatly inside without leaking or making anything soggy.

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When lunch time came, I shook up the radishes in dressing with the arugula, sprinkled the nuts on top, and had a tasty meal. I later crumbled some of that cheese up – I definitely recommend ricotta salata for your salads or snacking. The flavor is fresh, like farmers’ cheese, but it’s very salty and crumbly. I sometimes use it as a substitute for feta in recipes, but it’s less creamy than feta. What do you do to liven up your fresh veggies?

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Non-sad (non)desk lunches

September 8, 2014

You do not want to see what working all day in nitrile gloves has done to my nails. I’m trying to mitigate the damage, but sheesh. You might want to see what keeps me going on a work day, though – LUNCH.

I work in an area with a few places to grab a salad or sandwich, but not so many that the menus can keep me entertained 5 days a week. Bringing my lunch has been great for my wallet and my peace of mind since I can sit down and relax outside right away. But when I first started to pack lunch in my usual food storage containers, I ended up wearing salad dressing or carrying around a sauerkraut-soaked messenger bag. (Mmmmmmmm, I’m sure my coworkers loved that.) I needed something that wouldn’t leak, so I fired up Google…

Of course, I spent a long while looking at bento photos, but my level of effort will never add up to those masterpieces. After that, I did get my heart set on having a compact, spill-proof lunchbox set that could be used for the variety of foods I like to pack. Some people like to have a salad every day, and if I did I would have chosen one of the lidded bowls with a dressing container included – some even have a locked-in ice pack. But I like to pack salads AND leftover bratwurst with sauerkraut, or soup, or a sandwich with the tomatoes in a different container so they don’t make the bread soggy. I ended up choosing Laptop Lunches. They come with a set of little containers that are made of BPA-free plastic and fit neatly into a hard outer case that is small enough to carry in my smelly messenger bag. I also ordered the additional container set with a larger lidded box.

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I chiefly liked this set because of the size, but it also had to fit these criteria:
-microwave safe (the container lids are not, but that’s fine with me)
-watertight
-lightweight

That last one is the main reason I chose plastic over glass. Many of my coworkers prefer glass because they’re nervous about microwaving plastic. I don’t know whether or not that’s bad, and I expect it’ll be years before anyone knows the exact extent of the implications, but minimizing the weight of my shoulder bag felt like a top priority. Many other lunchbox or food storage kits would have worked for me, and there are so many cool-looking stainless steel, tiffin-style, or vintage options in all price ranges out there… So my advice is to spend the time to get something you’re sure you’ll enjoy using.

So far, I love the set I chose! The lids keep liquids from leaking and I am able to pack more than enough food. I knew that I would need the extra inserts for days when I haven’t had time to wash yesterday’s containers. I will be posting a few photos and recipes/ideas for lunch in case anyone out there, like me, feels that inspiration is a good way to avoid the nearby fast food line.

If I can give one last tip for you, it’s to use the last 2 minutes of your break to rinse or wash your containers (or, to throw them in the dishwasher as soon as you can. Judge the number of containers you need to have by the frequency you can run a full dishwasher.) You are much more likely to pack lunch for tomorrow if you don’t let your containers get stinky. Happy lunch!