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Just Bento Cookbook Series

Makiko Itoh
The Just Bento Cookbook by Makiko Itoh; Photographs by Makiko Doi
The Just Bento Cookbook 2 by Makiko Itoh

Just Bento Cookbook Series : Titles in Order

Book 2
The author of the best-selling Just Bento Cookbook is back with hundreds of delicious new Japanese-lunchbox-style recipes — including many low-carb, vegetarian, and vegan options — that can be made quickly and without a lot of fuss.The passion for bento boxes shows no signs of letting up. Leading the way in popularizing these compact and portable boxed meals has been Makiko Itoh, blogger extraordinaire and author of the perennial bestseller, The Just Bento Cookbook. Itoh was instrumental in spreading the word that bentos are perfect for busy adults-on-the-go — they don’t have to be cute and they don’t have to take a lot of planning or prep time in order to be tasty, nutritious, and economical.In THE JUST BENTO COOKBOOK 2: Make-Ahead Lunches and More, Itoh offers hundreds of new recipes for bento-friendly dishes. The premise of this second cookbook is that anyone can make delicious, healthy bentos quickly and easily. Itoh focuses on three types of bentos with specific and appealing benefits: bentos that can be made ahead of time, “express” bentos that can be put together fast, using components right off the shelf or out of the refrigerator, and bentos for special dietary needs. Full-color photos accompany the directions and showcase the finished dishes.THE JUST BENTO COOKBOOK 2 opens with Itoh’s basic bento rules, revised to reflect comments she’s heard from her many fans after the first book came out. “Build Up Your Stash” explains why having some items ready to pack up and go is the key to stress-free bento-making. Here are tips on making foods that store well, organizing storage space, the best containers to use for different foods, what store-bought items to have on hand, etc.The first section, “Make-Ahead Bentos,” features recipes for a wide variety of dishes that can be prepared the night before or first thing in the morning. Here are different kinds of meatballs and burgers, including both Western versions and Japanese variations; mouth-watering chicken, pork, beef, egg and fish dishes; a section on “Tofu and Vegan” treats such as Ginger Tofu Teriyaki and Green Lentils and Brown Rice; and recipes for Rice Sandwiches such as Egg-wrapped Rice Sandwich with Bacon Rice Filling. A special section of Low Carb recipes based on shirataki noodles and konnyaku (konjac) offers fun and creative ways to use this no-cal, no-carb, no-sugar, gluten-free “miracle” noodle in dishes like Rice and Shirataki Pilaf with Shrimp, Shirataki Chicken “Ramen” in a Lunch Jar, and Shirataki with Sesame.“Express Bentos” presents very quick-to-assemble boxes comprised of foods that don’t require detailed recipes and don’t rely on pre-homemade items. From Mediterranean Pasta and Yakisoba bentos to a Deconstructed Taco Salad and Stir-fry Bento, the ideas here will prove to be lifesavers for busy people who need to get out of the house in a hurry but still want their flavorful, filling, and healthy lunch.Other new and exciting additions to this second volume include an entire section of recipes for Vegetable Side Dishes (Roast Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar, Spicy Broccoli, and Potato and Corn Salad), and one for Japanese Vegetable Side Dishes (Buttery Kabocha Squash, Crunchy Stir-fried Soy Beans, Hijiki Seaweed with Garlic). Recipes for different versions of dashi will help readers keep a supply of this staple ingredient at the ready. And advice on tools and equipment, types of bento boxes and accessories, as well as a glossary and resource section, will ensure that preparing bentos is as enjoyable as eating them.
Book 1
Bento fever has recently swept across the West, fuelled not just by an interest in cute, decorative food, but by the desire for an economical, healthy approach to eating in these times of recession. A leading light in the popularization of bento has been Makiko Itoh, whose blog, Just Bento, boasts hundreds of thousands of subscribers, all of whom love her delicious recipes and practical bento-making tips.


Now, for the first time, Itoh’s expertise has been packaged in book form. The Just Bento Cookbook contains twenty-five attractive bento menus and more than 150 recipes, all of which have been specially created for this book and are divided into two main sections, Japanese and Not-so-Japanese. The Japanese section includes classic bento menus such as Salted Salmon Bento and Chicken Karaage Bento, while the Not-so-Japanese section shows how Western food can be adapted to the bento concept, with delicious menus such as Summer Vegetable Gratin Bento and Everyone Loves a Pie Bento.


In addition to the recipes, Itoh includes sections on bento-making equipment, bento staples to make and stock, basic cooking techniques, and a glossary. A planning-chart section is included, showing readers how they might organize their weekly bento making.


In a market full of bento books that emphasize the cute and the decorative, this book stands out for its emphasis on the health and economic benefits of the bento, and for the very practical guidelines on how to ensure that a daily bento lunch is something that can easily be incorporated into anyone’s lifestyle. This is the perfect book for the bento beginner, but will also provide a wealth of new bento recipe ideas and tips for Just Bento aficionados.

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