Serves 1 (red velvet quinoa makes 2 to 3 portions) | Ready in 45 minutes
This stunning quinoa is one of my most asked-for recipes on Instagram, and my cookbook is the first place I’ve shared it—I hope you like it! Beet, miso, and a touch of clove add a sensuous, earthy quality to this quinoa in the happy company of creamy avocado, pecans, and fragrant charred peach and asparagus. Stone fruit is mostly sold underripe to protect it from bruising—a blast of heat brings its sweetness and softness out instantly. Char it with the asparagus in a dry pan or over a naked gas flame—a simple technique normally used to broil small green shishito peppers in Japan.
Make the red velvet quinoa: Place rinsed, wet quinoa in pan and toast over high heat, stirring frequently, until it looks dry and crackles a lot (itu2019s fine if it gets a little u201cburnt,u201d as this adds a good smoky flavor). Add beet and measured water for cooking, cover, and bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat until grains are soft and all water is gone, about 15 to 20 minutes. Whisk remaining quinoa ingredients together in large mixing bowl, add hot quinoa, and combine well. Let cool slightly before packing in bento and/or storage container with lid. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Make the charred peach and asparagus: Option 1: Use very hot, dry skillet and press fruit (cut-side down) and asparagus onto skillet bottom with spatula for a few moments to char. Add splash of water, then quickly cover with lid for 1 to 2 minutes to soften. Option 2: Place metal grid (I use an old oven rack) over stovetopu2019s biggest gas flame, and when metal is red hot, lower flame and use a utensil (something you donu2019t mind burning a little, like metal tongs) to press fruit and then asparagus onto rack for a few seconds to get grill marks. Reduce heat to lowest setting and allow produce to char for 30 seconds on each side. Transfer to plate and let cool. Eat grilled produce on the day you prep it.
Assemble the bento: Arrange quinoa in one end of box (or in whole box if using a double-decker like in the image). Make bed of lettuce in remaining space and arrange avocado, peach or nectarine, and asparagus on top. Add pecans, either in divider or pocket made from parchment paper. If you want dressing, pour tamari and squeeze of lime juice into small leakproof container to take with you and drizzle over veggies later. Close box and pack in a bento bag or furoshiki (see bottom of p. 39) with dressing container and a fork or chopsticks.
This recipe is part of the These Bento Box Recipes Will Take Your Workday Lunches From “Meh” to Marvelous collection.
While sablefish’s texture and fat content stand up admirably to the heat of the grill, this firm fish is also delicious poached. For this recipe, sablefish’s luxurious taste is combined with a light fragrant broth of lemongrass and ginger punctuated with the heat of Thai chili. Sustainability status Sablefish, also known as butterfish or black cod, is a rich and satisfying fish, plentiful in omega-3s and sourced sustainably from the Pacific Northwest. Skin and bones Sablefish has large pin bones. Ideally, your fishmonger will remove them, but if not, before you begin, locate them along the fish’s centreline and, using a pair of needle nose pliers, grasp them firmly to remove. You can leave the skin on for this recipe, which may help the fish hold together a little better while cooking, but it can be tricky to peel the skin away from the cooked fish and discard before plating. I opted to remove the skin first and simply keep a close eye on the cooking time, being careful to remove the fish from the poaching liquid before it flakes apart.
These mildly spiced salmon tacos served with sweet and spicy pumpkin seeds will bring a party together. Make a small quantity of salmon go further when you pair it with a fresh red cabbage slaw featuring citrus and cilantro. Drizzled with some bright lime yogurt, the flavours come together perfectly. Sustainability status Wild salmon from the Pacific Northwest and Alaska are considered among the most sustainable, as the fishery is subject to limited harvests. With salmon stocks in decline, supporting managed fisheries such as these can help maintain populations into the future. That may also mean eating salmon less often than we do now. Salmon is a favourite Salmon is the most popular variety of fish in Canada and the second most popular in the US.
B12-rich mussels are a very good and economical source of protein and iron. Steamed mussels are a classic way to enjoy seafood—and so is this rich, aromatic broth of tomato, fennel, and saffron. Be sure to allow saffron to fully infuse to get the full flavour benefit, and finish off the dish with the fragrant fennel fronds. Sustainability status Farmed mussels are considered highly sustainable due to their low impacts on the environment. They are easy to harvest, require no fertilizer or fresh water, and don’t need to be fed externally, as they get all their nutritional requirements from their marine environment. Mussel prep Selection: Look for mussels with shiny, tightly closed shells that smell of the sea. If shells are slightly open, give them a tap. Live mussels will close immediately. Storage: Keep mussels in the fridge in a shallow pan laid on top of ice. Keep them out of water and cover with a damp cloth. Ideally, consume on the day you buy them, but within two days. They need to breathe, so never keep them in a sealed plastic bag. Cleanup: In addition to being sustainable, farmed mussels tend to require less cleaning than wild mussels. Most of the fibrous “beards” that mussels use to grip solid surfaces will have been removed before sale. But if a few remain, they’re easily dispatched: grasp the beard with your thumb and forefinger and pull it toward the hinge of the mussel and give it a tug. Afterward, give mussels a quick rinse and scrub away any areas of mud or seaweed, which, with farmed mussels, will require minimal work.
The delicate flavour of shrimp is highlighted with just a touch of lemon and a hint of mustard, while radish and celery give some fresh crunch to this dish. Eat it in lettuce cups, on top of greens, or served on whole grain bread for a filling snack. Sustainability status Both wild and farmed shrimp can be sustainable depending on where they’re caught and how they’re raised. See our article “Sea Change” for more information about choosing ethical shrimp.