Some of you may know that I can rightfully consider myself "the mess tin (in Italian "baracchino") magician"… this winter, in fact, when I was writing my thesis, to shorten my lunch break and be able to return quickly to my research, I brought lunch with me, instead of hunting for turkey-gorge sandwiches (in Piedmontese dialect that phrase sounds like 'ngusa pitu), as some unprepared friend of mine.
Before that I always applied the art of the mess tin (it's much cooler to call it Bento box, Japanese-style -in reality, like many habits that comes from the Orient, behind this object and this custom hide some ritual unknown to our miserable mess tin) to summer meal, which for me often consists only of yogurt and muesli, at the most with the addition of biscuits and fruit (fresh or dried one). But this winter I had the need to carry around something light (otherwise I would have graduated in "applied sleep"), healthy and that could be eaten cold (I had no heat sources other than a radiator), I indulged myself in all sorts of steamed vegetables (then dressed) and salads.
Unfortunately, my art of the mess tin was not so advanced, and occasionally I found myself with food, but no cutlery … I think that my skills (more like a super-power) to eat with steamed zucchini with a coffee scoop will pass into legend.
Well, looking back at those months of crazy and desperate study, those lunch at the crazy-corner (a corner whose name fits perfectly) with my companions in misfortune are some of the most pleasant memories.
This is to say that I am now fond of the mess tin and, since then, I have always enjoyed preparing it for myself or for others.
I chose, in the path of a great contest, to propose a summer Bento Box Italian-style for this early taste of summer, containing a pasta salad dressed in green and, such as hunger-breaker, snack or dessert, a yogurt with muesli, cereals cookies and dried red cranberries (this is to remind my evergreen summer mess tin).
For obvious reasons I'll give you only the recipe to prepare the pasta salad; some of its procedure is similar to the one to make my pesto, potatoes and green beans lasagna.
As for the yogurt (which is still one of my favorite summer meals, along with ice cream), just put the desired amount of yogurt (for me 125 or 150 g) in a small airtight container and take with you some muesli, dried (or fresh) fruit of your choice (in this case the dried red cranberries) and 2 or 3 cereals cookies, so that, all mixed together, constitutes a substantial snack.
PASTA SALAD DRESSED IN GREEN
Ingredients (5 servings – in the pictures you'll see only a portion)
* 500 g green beans
* 3 little-medium sized potatoes
* extra-virgin olive oil
* a clove of garlic
* 400 g pasta (for me smooth pennette -little penne)
* 140 g fresh basil pesto (I had to use the ready-made one -the one that I bought in Liguria- 'cause my beloved basil had a close encounter with a herd of angry snails)
* 150 g pitted black olives, sliced or cut in a half
* 100 g diced cheese (I chose Roman Pecorino cheese PDO -I already talked about this cheese here-, but you could use some provolone cheese or some other semi-hard cheese)
First of all, peel and dice (not too small) green beans and potatoes, and boil them, keeping them slightly undercooked. Sauté them in a pan with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, a clove of garlic and, if you want, a teaspoon of basil pesto (so that the vegetables get tastier), salting accordingly. Set aside.
Bring to a boil a pot of salted water, cook pasta, holding it REALLY UNDERCOOKED (it has to be still crunchy). Drain it and leave it for a few minutes under running cold water, so that its cooking will be stopped. Drain it again and place it into a bowl.
Now dress it with basil pesto and, if necessary, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil; then add potatoes and green beans, diced cheese and black olives. Leave in the refrigerator at least 5-6 hours before eating it (so it will be tastier, but nothing happens to you if you eat it before). If necessary, add a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil.
Enjoy it fresh (so if you have prepared a Bento Box, you should store it in a cooler box, or in a fridge), and welcome to the wonderful season of pasta, rice and cereals salads!
As I said before, the inspiration to this Bento Box came to me by a great initiative by Kitty's Kitchen and Semplicemente Pepe Rosa, a contest called Gone With a Bento (ndr. in Italian the movie "Gone with the wind" is called "Via col vento", so "Via col Bento"), in collaboration with Casa Bento. You find the link to the contest by clicking on the image below.
Is this my chance to finally have a REAL Bento, and not these patched containers that I slop together in new ways and with unstable balances?!