(See Note on Bento below)
Italian flavors abound in this bento filled with salami flutes, grape tomatoes, mozzarella sticks, sesame breadsticks, roasted red peppers and marinated artichoke hearts.
4 slices hard salami - rolled into flute shapes
4 grape tomatoes
1/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts (about half a 4 oz. jar)
1/4 cup roasted red peppers (about half a 4 oz. jar)
1/4 cup black olives
6 sticks of mozzarella cheese
6 small sesame breadsticks
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.