Can a lunchtime soup and sandwich—a tonic on a winter day—be transformed into on elegant repast? This bento shows how easily everyday foods can be elevated to a new level of sophistication with the careful execution of a few cooking and presentation techniques.
Here, we've brought a grown-up aesthetic to one of our favorite childhood combinations tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. The soothing comfort of this simple meal is still there, but the culinary context is made more interesting through new and different ingredients and accompanying dishes our mothers never served us: sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, a sprightly dish of spinach with a Japanese accent, and a clever second "sandwich" of swordfish stuffed with fresh herbs.
Our grilled ham and cheese sandwich is classic but the pyramidal presentation literally elevates it into a different context. The soup is also utterly simple: sun-dried and fresh tomatoes and roasted red bell peppers are simmered in chicken stock, puréed, and served hot or warm. (The basil garnish is also something that canned soup never enjoys.)
We have balanced the round flavors of the soup and sandwich with the slight astringency of fresh spinach, heated just to wilt, and then lightly dressed with soy sauce and sesame oil and sesame seeds. Though this was not part of our childhood lunches, we have found that kids actually love spinach this way it is a beautiful glistening green with the nuttiness of sesame seeds.
The second sandwich in this bento is a quick and tempting presentation of swordfish you will want to use on many occasions. A thick fillet is cut in half filled with fresh dill, tarragon, and parsley, wrapped in plastic wrap, and then steamed for just a few minutes. The flavorful and aromatic package cooks in its own essences and adds a rich and luxurious flavor as well as an exciting visual component to the bento.
Simple Menus For The Bento Box
By Ellen Greaves & Wayne Nish
William Morrow & Company, Inc.
Recipes Reprinted by permission.
This page created October 1998
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