I was poking around the current frozen foods in my bento-stash… trying to decide on the item for the next article. Then I discovered that my foodie friend Robert-Gilles had posted an in-depth (like he always does) article about Japanese Tubers! I was inspired…”I have yams in my stash”… big, bright, orange yams…and yams are tubers! And that’s how I selected the star of this post!
Sweet potatoes and yams are a staple for bento boxes as they add non-processed, energy boosting carbs along with their ”fancy bento colors” for pretty lunches! But the best news is that they can be kept for many months in a frozen state until you’re ready to pack them.
To prepare your sweet potato for freezing you need to cook it, but not all the way, just until it’s tender. I prefer the baking method, but you can steam or boil them if you like. Just don’t over cook as they will get too soft or mushy, which means you can’t use cutters to make cute shapes. I keep the baking time to about 40 minutes for the large roundish ones and 20 minutes for the longer skinny kind at 350 degrees.
After the potatoes are out of the oven, slice them in 1/2 inch thickness and let them cool. Lay them single layer in freezer and when they’re frozen you can bag them up (removing all the air) and keep them as bento-stash for many months.
And when you have an empty spot in your bento box… fill in with a slice of sweet potato! But wait! There are options, you can simmer them…think “nimono”, pop them in the microwave or do like I do and place them on a baking sheet and cook in the toaster oven. Again, be careful to not overcook
After they’ve cooled, add them to your lunch just as they are, or transform them into spring flowers!
The larger the potato, the larger the slice, and that means I can use the big cutters!
The flower- cut potato slices are my favorites not only as a garnish or filler item. Sweet potatoes are nutritious and tasty, and they’ve appeared as a “main item” in many bentos like in this picnic box I packed last year!