Serves 1 (slaw makes 3 to 4 portions)
I almost accidentally discovered how good cabbage is roasted. I’d been looking at broiled cabbage recipes online, but they were all for big wedges of cabbage (which seemed too time-consuming for an everyday recipe). Instead, I sliced my cabbage really thin, like a slaw, and roasted it spread thinly over a large baking sheet. Since that moment, it’s been on repeat in our house! The heat changes the cabbage into something much sweeter and full of umami, and the small pieces of lemon add a surprising, aromatic burst to every few bites. I started adding in cooked chickpeas or tofu to make it into a simple weekday meal (a combo that’s amazing wedged with avocado in a tortilla!). Since it’s so easy to make and tastes good cold, it’s great for bento too.
Make the roast cabbage slaw: Preheat oven to 425 F. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Use big, open sheet rather than high-edged pan or casserole dish.
Pile all roast cabbage slaw ingredients in middle of sheet and combine with your hands, then spread thinly—you want ingredients to be minimally overlapping so they get a chance to dehydrate a little. Roast on highest shelf in oven for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until cabbage is slightly charred at edges and chickpeas have a little tan.
Remove from oven and let cool slightly, then use parchment paper from baking sheet to wrap around mixture so you have a neat package. This keeps moisture and flavor in and saves washing up an oily storage container later. Once cool, store package in refrigerator (in bowl) for up to 4 days.
Assemble your bento (1 or 2).
Bento 1: Cook soba according to package instructions. Drain in colander and cool completely under cold running water. Let drip-dry for a few minutes or instantly spin dry in sturdy salad spinner. Place soba in bento box. Push to one side and add lettuce and a portion of cabbage slaw in remaining space. Add avocado and spoon sesame seeds onto noodles. Finish with a scatter of blueberries. Close box and pack in bento bag or furoshiki with a fork or chopsticks. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
Bento 2: Follow directions to make lilac rice. Follow instructions to make onigirazu, using nori sheets and topping rice with a portion of cabbage slaw and avocado and tofu. (Sliced avocado is easier to layer evenly in onigirazu.) Pack in bento box with handful of blueberries. Close box and pack in bento bag or furoshiki with napkin. Eat on the day you prep it.
This recipe is part of the These Bento Box Recipes Will Take Your Workday Lunches From “Meh” to Marvelous collection.
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