Summer vegetable casserole bento recipe

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This vegetarian bento is inspired by a picnic lunch I had a couple of summers ago in the heart of Provence, in the south of France. It has a portion of a traditional vegetable casserole known as a tian, which is delicious when cold, plus cheese, a zesty salad, and crusty bread.

  • Yield: 1 Serving


Provençal Vegetable Tian
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil, for sautéing
  • 4 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • salt, for sprinkling
  • 1 large eggplant, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 4 large ripe tomatoes, de-seeded and chopped finely
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tsp fresh or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil, for drizzling
Beet Salad with Grainy Mustard Dressing
  • 3 cooked beets (precooked vacuum-packed or good quality canned beets are fine, but not pickled beets)
  • 3 Tbsp grainy Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 small red radish, sliced, for decoration
How to Make It
    Provençal Vegetable Tian
  1. In a large frying pan, heat ¼ cup (60 ml) of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and sprinkle on some salt (this helps to draw out the moisture so that the onions cook faster). Slowly sauté the onions over medium-low heat until they are translucent.
  2. Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and massage the salt into the slices with your hands. Put in a colander to drain. Squeeze out any excess moisture.
  3. Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C).
  4. Put the sliced zucchini in a single layer on a clean kitchen towel. Sprinkle lightly with salt, and leave for a few minutes to let the salt draw out some of the excess moisture. Pat dry.
  5. Place a layer of cooked onions in a casserole dish, then a layer each of eggplant, zucchini, and tomato, adding a little black pepper and thyme to each layer. Repeat until all the vegetables are used up, finishing with a layer of tomato and a light sprinkle of salt. Drizzle on the remaining ¼ cup (60 ml) of olive oil.
  6. Bake for 1 hour uncovered, then cover with aluminum foil and bake for another 90 minutes, until the casserole is dark and concentrated and almost sticky.
  7. Beet Salad with Grainy Mustard Dressing
  8. If you need to cook raw beets, cut off the leaves and wash off any dirt from the roots don’t peel or cut them at this point. Wrap each beet separately in aluminum foil and bake in the oven at 350°F (175°C) for 30 minutes, until tender. Peel when cooled. Cooked beets can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 2–3 days.
  9. If using canned beets, drain well before using. I recommend vacuum-packed precooked beets over canned, if you can get them they have better flavor and texture.
  10. Cut the beets into halves or quarters, then into ¼ inch (0.5 cm) thick slices.
  11. Place the mustard, spices, black pepper, oil, and lemon juice in a bowl, and whisk vigorously until combined. Taste, and adjust the seasoning. Mix in the beets. Place a portion of the salad in a small container that fits inside your bento box.
  12. Create a “radish flower” decoration by arranging thinly sliced radish rounds in a flower shape on top of the salad.
  13. This can be made up to 3 days in advance and held in the refrigerator.

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