Vegan bento, Spanish style
This post comes from my friend Xurxo Martinez (pronounced “sure-show”), who lives in Madrid but studied with me at UW. He posts pictures of the wonderful lunches he prepares to Facebook and Flickr and makes us all jealous. I admire both the stunning composition of his shots, vibrant yet simple, and the unusual ingredients and flavor combinations he uses.
As someone lucky enough to have tried his food when he lived in Seattle, I know that each of these meals are as delicious as they look! Not all his dishes are vegan, but here are a sampling of those that are.
Orange salad with a tapenade of black olive, fennel seeds, and tarragon
I wanted to use orange in a salad, mixing its sweetness with something salty. Thought about one I tried once in Granada with olives, a little lettuce and onion. But then I remembered this one, from one of Mark Bittman’s videos for the NYT, replacing thyme (too obvious) with tarragon and putting it—and fennel seeds too—inside the tapenade, not only as a side flavour. To me it makes for a more complex flavor, a better contrast for the well-known orange taste. Then I added some pumpkin seeds as a crunchy contrast, more for the texture than for the flavor.
Steamed violet potatoes (Vitelottes), purple cauliflower —when cooked it loses that color and gets just green— and carrots
I simply love steaming everything (I’m trying steamed fruits that then I keep for a couple days in the freezer. Then it taste like confit fruit without the excess of fruit). The Flavor is so intense, and it gives so many options on the texture side. I specially love small potatoes, cooked with the skin. Is a surprise to discover its real taste. You just need a little bit of olive oil and salt to make it even better.
Chickpeas, black quinoa, and broccoli
Chickpeas were boiled, the quinoa was made in a rice cooker and the broccoli was steamed.
Quinoa is such an versatile food. I find that the black version tastes stronger, earthly. I wanted to mix it with something “meatier”, and that’s where chickpeas enter. Broccoli was the contrast, something “greener” and sweeter. And the colors really work, obviously. Better served warm.
Purple cabbage, Squash, and chard
All the ingredients were steamed.
I’m more used to use purple cabbage in salads, so crunchy and different. But when you cook it (is really good boiled with apple and then mixed with pine nuts) is sweet and deep. The Squash is also sweet, but has a different texture. Chard was the contrast element. A trickle of olive oil and sherry vinager sticks everything together. Better served cold.
Korean rice cakes pan-fried in a wok with eggplant, broccoli, butter squash, red bell pepper, and onion.
As it happens with the Chinese ones, the Korean rice cakes absorve the flavor of the ingredients it is cooked with, and needs to be soaked for 4-8 hours before being fried. The result is a mix of the cake’s chewiness and the veggies almost crunchy. Instead of salt I like to use just soy sauce when cooking with the wok, and add some Japanese spices mix named Shichimi Togarashi. So you have some kind of pan-asian dish with local vegetables (i.e. no pak choi [bok choy]).
Oh, and why the black tupperware?
Well this is the food I prepare in the mornings to take with me to work, and this is my favorite tupperware. Is a japanese one from the shop Muji. I don’t think they sell it anymore. A friend gave it to me seven years ago. It really works because is black, the proportions are similar to an horizontal photo, and framing the food really works. After starting with the series (just because a co-worker told me once “your food is always weird and nice, you should take photos of if”) I realized that in a way I was doing a version of ’scanwiches’. Sometimes you have something hidden in one corner of your mind, just waiting for the right moment to wake up, combine with some other reference or idea, and become something new.
Another personal story about the bento/tupperware is that I basically didn’t use it (not even twice) for the first 3-4 years. Somehow I decided to take it to Seattle, and there started to carry it with me almost everyday, because I used to take it with me to my study place (a complex in south campus, in the Health Science area, by the lake). Now I use it everyday, even if the hooks that help to close the lid are broken. I guess that it reminds me of Seattle.
This entry was posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2013 at 7:30 AM and is filed under misc.. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.