Cookbook Challenge accepted: rice and spinach gratin and red pepper sauce

She likes bento is hosting a cookbook challenge: to get us all inspired to reach into neglected cookbooks and explore!  It can be one cookbook, or several.  Either way, the idea is to be trying new things out and getting some cookbook love!

I was planning on making a Thanksgiving dinner leftover bento, but I’m really thrilled to say that all my tasty veg side dishes disappeared.  The only leftovers were the meat, and I fed 12 adults and 3 kids!  Nicely done me, but no leftover goodness.

So, I figured today would be the day that I took on the cookbook challenge with a rice and spinach gratin with a red pepper sauce – 2 recipes, 1 bento!  Both recipes come from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.  I don’t know why I don’t try more things – the food is sumptuous.

The gratin:

I was able to follow this procedure exactly, but made the following changes: omitting the garlic (since I work around people all day), using dried herbs, subbing cottage cheese for ricotta, and using frozen chopped spinach.  I used leftover brown rice – yummy!  And the bechamel sauce the recipe calls for is (so yep, technically 3 recipes today!):

(bad bad bad photo… couldn’t find a focus point… went to full manual… sucked!)

I didn’t need to cook the sauce for 20 mins – more like 10.

The recipe was beautifully bubbly and very tasty.  It suggested a red pepper sauce as an accompaniment:

I didn’t have any white wine, so I omitted that as well as the salt due to using commercial vegetable stock (salty enough), and I found that I didn’t really want to add the vinegar or butter – this was tasty enough without it, but I’m sure it would have been even more delicious with (trying to mitigate fat since the gratin had a couple tablespoons).

And the bento:

The gratin and a healthy dose of sauce are in the larger tier, with green salad in the smaller tier.  Balsamic vinegar and olive oil hide in the chick.  Carrot flowers to garnish, an egg with black salt for morning snack, an apple for afternoon snack, and the bento awesomeness for tomorrow is complete!


7 thoughts on “Cookbook Challenge accepted: rice and spinach gratin and red pepper sauce

  1. The cookbook challenge sounds like a great idea and you have accomplished 3 new recipes! After my research papers and midterms, I will give it a try! Just 2 more weeks…

    • The sauce was wonderful – we ate it with pasta a few nights later (and no leftovers for bento the next day, that’s how good it was).

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