Well, this bento really was an ordinary lunch bento and not meant for tonight, but because of the shooting star, moon behind the tree (houmous container behind mint) and peppermint planet, it made me think of summer nights. Especially together with my new dark furoshiki, as you can see on Flickr. Now I keep hearing ABBA’s song Summer Night City in my head with a different chorus line… who’s to say they are not subtitling the song Summer Night BENTO in this Japanese broadcast? :P

Left tier: apple, radish, container of houmous, a few pistachios, mint for tea, my very last special babybel from France (emmental), bruschettas and a peppermint candy for the end of the day.

Right tier: fresh field peas á la Provence (in tomato sauce with herbes de Provence, zucchini, shalot, leek and garlic), green beans (hiding behind grass divider), radishes, yellow cherry tomatoes, lettuce, parsley and… tsukemono of turnips (meiknol).

Making tsukemono (pickles) is a Japanese way to preserve food so you usually do that some time before you want to eat it. It is a side dish with totally different texture (bite) and flavour from the rest of your meal. When I say “Japanese ginger pickles” you’ll probably all know what I mean ;)

The mixture I used to make my turnip pickles contained rice vinegar, mirin (rice wine for cooking), a bit of lemon juice and some cayenne pepper because we’re out of shichimi powder. But before I mixed the dressing with the turnip I extracted water from the vegetables by coating them with salt en putting them in a colander for about 15 minutes. Next time I’ll really need to use less salt! After wiping the slices dry and mixing them with the dressing, I put the tsukemono in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight.

As you might have noticed by now, quite a bit of pre-preparation time went into this bento! Thankfully the field peas are a leftover from diner so the work had been done yesterday. It did take me some time because not only were the peas fresh and had to be taken out of their pods, we also never have any pre-composed herb mixtures. So I made the herbes de Provence myself.

tijmAnd here’s another one of Gnoe’s tips! First I dried some thyme in the microwave. You just have to put the fresh herbs (without the woody parts) evenly between two layers of kitchen paper, about 3 minutes on 600 Wt. You know that they’re ready when they are crunchy to the touch. That’s all :)

Ingredients of herbes de Provence:

  • 4 parts of thyme
  • 4 parts of oregano (since we were out of marjoram)
  • 4 parts of savory (bonenkruid in Dutch)
  • 2 parts of rosemary
  • 2 parts of basil
  • 1 part of sage (salie)
  • 1 part of tarragon (dragon)

You could also add fennel, chervil and — preferably — lavender if you have some, but I didn’t want to make my mixture too outrageous ;)

Summer Night Bento… for those of you who can’t get ABBA out of their heads either: here’s another cool version of the song in Wembley Stadium (1979). Enjoy :)