My Lunch Can Beat Up Your Lunch!

Bento Food: Pasta Para Duros


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Tricycle and bicycle wheelsPasta para duros are strange little things my sister's in-laws brought to a party and I got hooked on. In the picture at right, the top "wheel" is what they look like when you buy them. They appear to be orange plastic wheel things, and may be packaged or available in scoop-'em-out containers. They are made of wheat flour, corn starch, and sodium bicarbonate. Pop them into a microwave and they puff up into the munchies at bottom. You have to watch it, though - it's easy to scorch them by cooking them too long at high power. I cook them for a minute on 60% power, spread out on a paper towel so they don't touch until they puff up.

A Spanish friend told me that these can be fried in oil, and that her mother makes them that way. I tried it and, sure enough, it works - but why bother, when microwaving them is so much easier and doesn't add all those calories?

When packing these in a bento lunch, be aware that they are very dry and will suck moisture out of their surroundings. If you leave them in a box with moist stuff for hours they will end up chewy instead of crunchy. Also, unless you break them into halves they have a low actual-food-to-space-taken-up ratio.