Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Black and White

This bento unintentionally became a study in black and white.  After I finished packing it and stood back to take the picture I had to laugh.  Although I often think of pasta as being 'white', in reality it is more of a yellow color.  I am always surprised by this when I try to make pasta from scratch and make it different colors! Again it is a very simple bento instead of a charaben, but it contains some of A-chan's favorite foods which makes both of us happy.

In the bento: Penne pasta with black live slices and a carrot flower in one tier.  The other tier holds matzo crackers and butter cheese, a container of quick cucumber slice pickles, carrot slices, strawberries and mango chunks.  Not shown is a container of freshly grated parmesan cheese for her to sprinkle over the pasta.

The quick pickles are extremely simple to make and are a great way to introduce pickles to kids who aren't fans yet.  (Though mine is a huge fan of pickles and would eat the whole jar and then drink the juice if I would let her!)  You can use any veggie, but some like carrots or cauliflower are better if blanched and dried first.  With only a few ingredients you can make them while you're getting the rest of the bento packed.

Quick pickles: This makes just enough for one bento.

3 slices of cucumber, cut into strips
Salt to sprinkle
2-3 TB Rice Vinegar
Black sesame seeds

Optional ingredients:
Sugar to sprinkle (for sweeter pickles, either regular sugar or brown sugar)
Cayenne powder or flakes (for hot pickles)

1. Spread the veggie slices out in a single layer on a plate or in a bowl.
2. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
3. Pour the Rice Vinegar on top and let soak for 5-20 minutes. The longer they soak the stronger the pickle.
4. If you want to add any sugar or cayenne, mix it into the rice vinegar before pouring onto the veggies.
5. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

Note:  You can dry them before packing.  Or you can leave some of the vinegar as long as you pack them in a container such as the panda above.

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