- Big compartment: Wholewheat Farfalle pasta with grilled zucchetti (baby courgettes), yellow bell pepper and butter-melted tomatoes, Parmesan.
- Small compartments: A very happy Babybel cheese in his natural habitat: toasted dark bread pieces!
Recently, my parents visited and brought me dark bread from Austria – now my freezer is full of it! When I was little, I was amazed that friends living abroad would ask their parents to send them bread now and then, or bring it when they visited. Now I know why – there’s nothing better than fresh, dark bread from home! While I like Swedish food and even Swedish bread, I jumped on the opportunity to have “a taste of home” in my freezer.
- The other compartment has spits of melon and organic kiwi.
I try to follow the rule of colours in every bento I make: Red, yellow, green, light (Pasta/Parmesan) and dark (bread). This is not something that I do because I feel bentos should be done according to strict rules – I was doing this long before I ever read that such a rule existed! I like contrasts and use them – you will find that even in bentos that strive to be monochrome, the creator uses contrasts artfully to make the bento visually appealing.
These techniques do not only ensure a pretty to look at bento, but also force me to balance the lunch with healthy fresh vegetables and fruit! Doesn’t fresh fruit have the best colours you can think of?
If I find that my bento is complete in ingredients but still needs another touch of colour, I use minicontainers or add a piece of fruit or candy as dessert to balance out the colors.
Sorted by colour, you can mix and match a lot of ingredients:
Red/Orange: Bell peppers, carrots, radishes, red apples, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, cranberries… take your pick!
Yellow: Bell peppers, yellow carrots, yellow squash sorts, pickled radish, egg yellow/tamagoyaki, apples and pears…
Green: Again, bell peppers (can you see a pattern?), all kinds of leaf vegetables, cucumbers and zucchini, leeks/chives/spring onions, green grapes, green apples and pears, gooseberries…
Light: This is traditionally the domain of starch: Rice, pasta, noodles, potatoes (if you don’t count them as yellow). But also egg white, white sesame seeds, parmesan or chopped leek as contrast on meaty or saucy dishes.
Dark: Traditionally you think of nori. But dark bread, any kind of meat that is prepared with a brown sauce like teriyaki, and a lot of fruit (purple grapes, blackberries, plums…) fall in that category… be creative!
There aren’t many foods that are naturally blue, and because of that, the human mind will often find blue-colored food unappetizing. There are however several types of fruit and vegetable called “blue” which you will find are really purple: blue potatoes, blueberries, “blue” cabbage…
I tend to class those shades into the “dark” category and avoid artificially-colored food, but there are other bento bloggers who specialize in blue-tinted food!