In this bento, I breached my hiatus with bread because I embarked on making one of the tastiest sandwiches I have ever made: a caprese sandwich. I found Braswell’s Balsamic Sweet Onion Jam and thought it would be perfect on bread with mozzarella, tomato, and basil leaves in between. I was right. And then I proceeded to eat that for lunch and dinner for three days before I ran out of cheese. I highly recommend it to everybody! Megan also informed me that she put the jam on a pork roast and it was fabulous! The versatility of this product must be made known!
Anyway, this bento also marked the first of three bentos made with ratatouille. I had been dying to make ratatouille for years because it’s easy, cheap, and full of vegetables. However, I was not aware at how much my recipe actually yielded. I made a lot. I think I could have comfortably fed about ten people.
This was a breakfast bento for one of my early morning shifts. The top was a protein shake with almond milk, Met-Rx protein powder, frozen spinach, and frozen kale. The taste wasn’t that weird but my smile after every sip probably wasn’t attractive. To the right are some protein pancakes with cottage cheese and pineapple and to the left is sautéed roasted garlic chicken sausage and more ratatouille.
This was when I tried the recipe for Megan’s meatloaf and botched it because I used the fatty ground turkey instead of the lean stuff. It was really tasty but very caloric, so a second attempt has yet to be made. There is also the return of my favorite avocado and strawberry salad with balsamic glaze, green beans, and, oh boy! Ratatouille again!
It was around this time that my beloved ratatouille had become lamentable. I added it into my bentos, I ate it for breakfast with soft boiled eggs like they make at the French restaurant across the street from my apartment. By about day five of eating it, I was sooo done with it. I would look at it with bitter resentment and mild disgust, wishing it would turn into something else. We had some good times that ratatouille and I, but by the end of the week, I felt it had outworn its welcome.
Here is the recipe for the ratatouille. It was delicious and I encourage everyone to make it. But make sure you have other people to feed it to because it gets old if it’s just you.
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
1 1/2 cups small diced yellow onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups medium diced eggplant, skin on
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup diced green bell peppers
1 cup diced red bell peppers
1 cup diced zucchini squash
1 cup diced yellow squash
1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Set a large 12-inch saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the onions and garlic to the pan. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are wilted and lightly caramelized, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the eggplant and thyme to the pan and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is partially cooked, about 5 minutes. Add the green and red peppers, zucchini, and squash and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil, parsley, and salt and pepper, to taste, and cook for a final 5 minutes. Stir well to blend and serve either hot or at room temperature.