A bus journey with a good friend to see a performance turned into a hanami.  I made special bento (a friend is a perfect excuse) but even better, it turned out there was a beautiful grove of flowering cherries to picnic in.

The bentos contained chicken wrapped round scallion, salted salmon that was grilled, iberico ham a friend brought back this week from Spain wrapped round roasted asparagus.  Inarizushi was filled with sushi rice mixed with black sesame and the radish trimmings from the temari radish.  Simmered squash and other easily identifiable vegetables completed the bento.

These took time to make (I would guess 2.5-3 hours) but were very pleasant to make in two sessions - prep the day before - cutting and boiling vegetables, simmering the inari and squash, assembling the maki roll and refrigerating.  Today I cooked the chicken and salmon and assembled the bento - trying for a more scattered look. 

I’m unlikely to become a vegetarian any time soon (I love the taste of meat) but I like vegetarian cooking.

Meals, especially bento, are composed via formula.  For me, a meat meal at home is protein, starch, vegetable. A bento has different proportions - one or two small main dishes, green/orange/yellow/red vegetables, rice or other starch.

Vegetarian cooking forces me to think about different compositions for a meal, and I enjoy that.  I’m less interested in vegetarian cooking that apes meat (soy patties, et al) - so this bento box is about having a meal of vegetables, not a meal without meat.

The top is Chinese greens: a different kind than the previous days, though it looks the same!  These wilt more and are closer to spinach; the others are crisper and closer to broccoli. Sauteed cremini mushrooms are on the side, both greens and mushrooms have garlic and oil drizzled over.  The bottom is sesame noodles.