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.
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.