Americanized Bento

americanized bento

(See Note on Bento below)

This Americanized version of bento is emptied in no time flat. The usual sandwich is filled with an unusual spread and put together with cheese and peanut butter crackers, baby carrots, Ranch dip, a hard boiled egg, green olives and grape tomatoes.

Turkey or chicken bologna make this "phony," and the relish gives it an extra kick of flavor -- making it taste a bit like deviled ham salad.

Phony Baloney Sandwich Spread:

Hands-On Time: 5 minutes
Ready In: 5 minutes
Yield: 4 servings


    8 ounces turkey or chicken bologna - about 8 slices
    4 Tablespoons mayonnaise
    2 Tablespoons sweet relish


  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until finely chopped and well blended.
  2. Spread on bread to make 4 sandwiches.

A Note on Bento: Bento is, very simply put, a Japanese lunchbox that's making waves across the U.S.. Traditionally made with rice, meat, poultry or fish and pickled or other cooked vegetables, bento can be as intricate or simple as you'd like. The bento I send always come back empty and the kids prefer them to the usual bagged lunch.
Bento boxes can be as simple or elaborate as the food they hold, from laquered boxes with built-in dividers to reuseable plastic containers available just about everywhere lately. It's important to keep moist foods separate from dry foods to decrease the risk of spoilage. Silicone muffin liners are ideal for keeping foods separate, but anything from dry lettuce leaves to waxed paper works as well.
While leftovers are perfect, any food that tastes as good chilled as it does hot will do. To keep foods cold until lunch time, small condiment packets like kethcup, mustard, mayo or relish, when frozen, are the perfect size ice-pack whether meant to be consumed or not.
Fill-ins help food keep its shape and stay put; some ideas for fill-ins are grape tomatoes, grapes, baby carrots, individually wrapped cheeses and dried fruit. Experiment with your own kids' favorites and have fun with it, your kids will have the most envied lunches at school.

See more recipes from Anne Coleman (aka Short Order Mom).

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