Part of the allure of a bento lunch is the fact that it's a many faceted meal made up of little compartments filled with all sorts of meats, veggies, and grains. According to Makiko Itoh, author of The Just Bento Cookbook the ideally balanced bento is made using a 1:1:2 (or more) carb:protein:vegetable ratio, meaning that half of your lunchtime bento should be filled with some sort of veggie. These veggie compartments could theoretically be filled with raw carrots or broccoli, or a handful of mixed greens but even better and far more exciting is a quick pickle like this Cucumber and Turnip Salad with Yuzu.
Thinly sliced cucumber and turnips are massaged with salt to eliminate some of their moisture, then dressed with a mix of yuzu zest and juice for a bright, citrusy pickle that retains its crispness beautifully. This salad acts as equal parts vegetable, condiment, and palate cleanser making it a wonderful bento companion for any of the Japanese-inspired proteins in The Just Bento Cookbook.
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Just Bento Cookbook to give away this week.
- 1 medium English cucumber
- 2 small Japanese turnips, or 1/2 large Western turnip
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 grated or dried yuzu peel, or lime peel
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh or bottled yuzu juice, or lime juice
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. If there are a lot of seeds inside, scoop them out with a spoon. Slice thinly, using a vegetable slicer, food processor, or mandoline. Slice the turnips and cut the slices into pieces about
the same size as the cucumber slices.
Massage the salt into the vegetables with your hands until the vegetables are limp. Squeeze well to expel excess moisture. Add the yuzu peel and juice and mix well. Let rest, covered, for a minimum of 20 minutes, overnight if possible.