Presenting the super kawaii vegan sushi + mochi lunchbox! Decided to send Amy on a trip to Japan today (alas only figuratively) with this little creation. Geographic themed boxes are the best; they just beg to be shown off, and you can throw a whole load of awesome/appropriate things in there and you know the flavours will work because the traditional combinations have been going strong for years/decades/millennia. Easy lunch!
Now Amy has been to Japan and has eaten the food, so I couldn’t just throw a packet of frozen edamame in there and call it a day. Oh no! Never one to be easily fooled, I knew Amy would no doubt demand some authentic, nutritious Japanese yums. Hopefully I didn’t let her down! Firstly, sushi. You can’t go past fresh sushi and this one has been given the vegan treatment – sweet potato forms the base of the filling and beyond that, I pretty much stuffed whatever vegetables I could in. Finish up with a little piece of pickled ginger and there you go, sushi!
We also fell in love with the mochi balls at the local Asian grocer. They’re delicious, chewy little chunks of glutinous squish (really the only way to describe them) and have a light, sweet flavour. I picked up a packet of them and put two in for an authentic dessert. I know I know, I bought something instead of cooking it! But seriously, making mochi looks downright tiring. If you haven’t seen it, watch the videos of the old guys punching it and smacking it with a hammer. Yes – it’s the only dessert you have to legitimately fight it to make it happen. Even with two guys ganging up on it, looks like crazy hard work!
Finishing off, we have some oyster mushrooms, edamame, spinach leaves, and a little soy sauce/sesame oil/chilli mix I mixed up to dip the sushi in. That little container comes with a lid, by the way, so no soy sauce infused mochi balls today 🙂
- Nori, brown rice, sweet potato, avocado, red onion, red + yellow capsicum, pickled ginger, oyster mushrooms, edamame, spinach, mochi balls
- Soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, red chilli
Roasted zucchini, sun dried tomatoes, olives, green beans. Need I go on? This lunchbox was so easy to make too – put on some extra roast vegetables with dinner and you’ve got a great meal on your hands. We went with roasted zucchinis today, which are wonderful, and don’t leave you feeling quite as heavy as a full on roast potato/pumpkin feast. Not saying they’re not great, because they are possibly the greatest thing ever, but sometimes you want something a little lighter, while still getting that lovely, sweet, roasted crunch. I must warn you that if you are making this from leftovers, make a lot – way more than you think you need.
Because, you see, these little guys are just the perfect bite sized snacks and are great even when they’re not done – as long as they’re cooked past raw, sneaking one off the roasting tray everytime you check on them always seems like a good idea. When you’re assembling the salad too. Chomp. Munch. Not many left now! You begin to rationalize the dwindling supply of roast zucchini in front of you – hey… there’s olives in this dish too, and uh… beans… they’re heavy, I guess! They will fill me up. I don’t need to put ALL of these zucchinis in. Right? Chomp. There goes another. Cook more, you will need more.
We paired this lovely little salad with a little bit of crunch for texture – a Cruskit with your favourite topping will work wonders here and is super easy to do. Add in some chili for a kick, then finish with some fresh fruit for dessert – we went with golden nectarines and weren’t disappointed.
- Roasted zucchini, olives, green beans, sun-dried tomatoes, red onion, basil leaves, spinach leaves, lettuce leaves, toasted pine nuts, goat’s cheese
- Cruskit, cream cheese, chili, purple salad leaves
Time for something different! Baking is not something i’ve really ventured into, but when I saw all the amazing tarts and pies that people make on Pinterest I thought hey, how hard can it be! Presenting my take on a pumpkin, mushroom and pine nut tart. It took a while to get the pastry right, I will say. As a non-baker, getting the crust to the right shortness was tricky, but we made it in the end. Buttery, crumbly, salty, and delicious.
After that was done, we needed a filling! I lightly roasted some pumpkin, then mashed it into the filling you see here, and in it went. Spices are key here! But which! We could talk about amazing combinations here but really, without following a recipe, I just let my guide be ‘flavours I like’. Garlic was included, as was smoked paprika, turmeric, and ground coriander. In the end it was a little reminiscent of a smoky curry, but not all the way – i’d say rich and spicy, as opposed to ‘it was a curry tart’ (although that does sort of sound delicious, and like something we could make one time!). Top with some earthy mushrooms, toasty pine nuts and goat’s cheese, if you’re so inclined. Such a filling tart needs a light salad underneath and we couldn’t resist doing the complementary colours thing, so purple kale it was! Pair it with some red fruits and a healthy side of bean salad, and you’ve got an amazing lunchbox with a whole lot of wow factor. Even if it’s your first time baking, give it a go – it’s actually pretty fun once you start!
- Pumpkin, pastry, shimeji mushrooms, enoki mushrooms. toasted pine nuts, goat’s cheese, purple kale, thyme to garnish
- Kidney beans, smoked paprika toasted chickpeas
Do you like vegetables? Like really, really like vegetables? A lunchbox that consists pretty much entirely of vegetables? Well, do I have a treat for you! Presenting a box so stacked full of vegetables that you’re sure to hit the vegetable portions of your 2+5 serves a day in one sitting! It’s also the easiest box to make ever. I mean, it’s literally just vegetables and toasted chickpeas and not a lot else. Whether you choose to adhere to the strict colour coding is up to you. It looks cool, after all, but don’t let it hold you back. Like hey, how did those minted peas and brussels sprouts get it there? Oh right, both those things are delicious and I want to eat them. Into the box they go!
As you can probably see, this lunchbox adheres to the ‘more is more’ school of culinary design. Instead of delicately balancing flavours, there’s just so much going on and so many good combinations that you can get away with just dumping everything in there and making it up as you go. The toasted chickpeas are of course salty, but you’ve also got earthy sweet kidney beans, fresh tomatoes, that verdant side salad and of course, the beet hummus! Go crazy, mix it up. Salty and hearty is great, fresh and hearty works too… it’s basically all good. We also used baby bocconcini for a little burst of creaminess but if you want to make it vegan, adding the beet hummus to the rest of the vegetables feels luxurious enough as it is. Sometimes simple really is best 🙂
- Corn, sweet potato, toasted chickpeas, orange and red tomatoes, kidney beans
- Beet hummus, bocconcini, pistachio
- Brussels sprouts, peas, mint