Just Bento Cookbook and Turnip Salad Recipe

I want to crawl into a bento box. Curl up real tiny with the apple rabbits and carrot stars, atop a soft and gentle bed of white rice. Pull around me a blanket of nori and have my self a siesta. Wait, though, not just any bento box. The breathtaking (yes, I said breathtaking) cedar box that Makiko Itoh brought when she spoke at the book event Viv held recently. With a beautiful box like that, you feel obliged to make a beautiful lunch to match. Sadly, I don’t see myself getting a $75 bento box anytime soon. But a girl can window shop, no?

The event, where Itoh cooked up a feast of bento treats for us, inspiring the onigiri love in all of us, while her publisher gave each of us a copy of her new cookbook: The Just Bento Cookbook: Everyday Lunches To Go, reminded me that a few years ago I went through a Bento phase. They never really got any prettier, and I eventually gave up and just worked on packing lunches that tasted good enough that neither B nor I abandoned them and ordered a pizza to our desk. I retained bits and pieces of my bento learnings, many of which came from Makiko Itoh’s Just Bento blog.

I may have given up both my dream of a cedar bento bed and making those god damn adorable lunches that look like Angry Birds. But I have not given up on packing excellent lunches. I pack both B and myself a lunch almost every day, and Makiko Itoh’s new book is full of great recipes for packing into lunches. Mine probably won’t be as pretty as hers, but there is no reason they can’t be just as tasty.

Recently, I had a few turnips sitting around and decide to try one of the recipes. Even with a few adaptations (because as anyone who knows me knows, I’m terrible at following recipes) this one surprised me with it’s bright flavors and easy eating. I can’t recommend this recipe enough.


Turnip and Cucumber Salad (Adapted from Just Bento Cookbook)
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 1 Turnip
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 Grapefruit
  1. Slice the turnip and cucumber thinly (on a mandoline, if you've got one).
  2. Massage the salt in and let it sit while you supreme (cut only the meat out, no pith or peel) the grapefruit. If you do this over a bowl, you'll preserve some of the juices as well.
  3. Squeeze the excess moisture from the veggies and mix into the grapefruit pieces and juices.


  1. I’m glad you like the book and the recipe too! It was great meeting you at Viv’s place too. BTW, that bento box you admired actually costs like $150… but…it’s so beautiful, isn’t it? ^_^;