First off, welcome to new readers finding their way here from yesterday’s article in The Washington Post on packed lunches and bentos (free registration required to view the article). The article calls me “the Rachael Ray of bentos” because of my focus on speedy lunches, which I found to be pretty amusing. So does this mean I need to come up with a catchphrase like Yum-O now?
If you’re new to bento-style lunches, be sure to read the Bento FAQ for an introduction. I’m on the road at the moment posting only sporadically, so please accept my apologies for not being as responsive to comments as usual.
My husband likes to barbecue on the weekends when we have people over, so earlier this summer he smoked some pork butts on the DIY flowerpot smoker for about 15 hours. We generally have people over when we do this, and it yields so many leftovers that I divide some into smaller portions, double-wrap, and freeze it for later when we’ll really appreciate it. It makes great fodder for Leftover Remakes, where I use leftovers to make a new dish. In the past I’ve used leftover pulled pork in dishes such as pork sopes, a straight sandwich packed in a Mr. Bento-type thermal lunch jar, as a pizza topping, or even plain.
In a play on a pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw, one evening I sautéed some chopped-up cabbage, added a portion of the leftover pulled pork, seasoned it with a little jarred tomato-based pasta sauce, and added the mixture to some Annie’s boxed shells & cheese pasta. To maximize payoff for the times when you take time to cook, make more than usual and freeze the excess planned leftovers to use in other dishes. A list of freezing tips is on the Top Tips page.
Contents of preschooler dinner: Roasted salmon and broccoli, cherry tomato, and shells and cheese pasta doctored with sautéed cabbage and North Carolina-style pulled pork. (Click on any photo for a larger view.)
Morning prep time: 10 minutes, using all leftovers. In the morning I revived the texture of the leftover pasta by microwaving it in a microwave-safe dish with a little splash of water, and tossed the broccoli with some vinaigrette so that it would have some flavor when eaten at room temperature. (Read on for packing details and an additional preschooler bento lunch.)
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