5 Vegetarian Grain Bowls for a Week of Winning Fall Dinners
September 26, 2016
For those of you who love the vegan "bowls", we came across these five different grain bowls, each filled with a generous variety of grains, veggies, sauces, and toppings. They're warm and filling, and also take full advantage of late-summer produce — the perfect way to transition into fall and the cooler days ahead.
I love the way each of these grain bowls has its own particular layers and components. They're modeled after some classic dishes from around the world: Italian-style polenta, Tex-Mex burrito, Indian curry, Middle Eastern rice and lentil mujadara, and Asian kimchi with rice. Each is packed with tons of flavor and a variety of different textures.
While any of these bowls could be made and served on a weeknight, many of the components can easily be made ahead, particularly the grains (except the polenta) and the sauces. Having these things stashed in the fridge means an even quicker meal when you're pressed for time.
Recipe: Creamy Polenta Bowl with Oven-Roasted Tomatoes and Zucchini
This deliciously simple and quick weeknight summer recipe is made of fresh corn-studded polenta, perfectly roasted grape tomatoes and zucchini, and a smooth — slightly tart — pesto for drizzling over the top. This dish comes together quickly, and it's a great way to use up all of that late-summer produce.
For the vegetables:
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 medium zucchinis, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 2 sprigs fresh thyme)
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the polenta:
1 cup polenta (or yellow cornmeal)
4 cups of water (or broth, or a mixture of the two)
1 teaspoon salt
2 medium ears sweet corn, kernels removed (about 2 cups)
1 cup grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons of butter
For the pesto:
1 cup basil leaves, tightly packed
3 tablespoons parsley leaves
1/3 cup good-quality olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a large bowl toss the grape tomatoes, chopped zucchinis, sliced shallot, thyme, and olive oil together. Season generously with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, and toss to coat. Spread the veggie mixture onto a baking tray and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tomatoes burst and the shallots crisp up.
Cook the polenta with the water and salt according to the package instructions, or follow these simple steps. Add the fresh corn kernels 10 minutes before the polenta is ready.
Blend all of the pesto ingredients together until smooth in a blender or food processor, or with an immersion blender.
Stir the grated cheese and butter into the polenta just before serving. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Evenly divide the polenta between 4 bowls; top each bowl with roasted veggies and the prepared pesto. Serve immediately.
Recipe: Wild Rice Bowl with Red Lentil Curry and Spinach
The best part about this vegetarian bowl recipe is how easy it is to make. This makes it an ideal candidate for one of those hectic mid-week dinners when all you want is a delicious meal on the table without having to think too hard. It's made with hearty red lentils, fresh ginger, plenty of spices, a couple handfuls of baby spinach, and coconut milk — a perfect balance of heat and creaminess.
1 cup wild rice
2 tablespoons ghee (or butter, or coconut oil)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 cup red lentils
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional)
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups baby spinach leaves, tightly packed
1 (15.5-ounce) can coconut milk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup cilantro leaves (lightly packed), to garnish
Prepare the wild rice according to the package instructions, or follow these simple steps. Most wild rice takes about 45 minutes to become tender; you can also make it a few days ahead so it's ready when you need it.
While the rice is cooking, heat the ghee in a large saucepan with tall sides over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and cook until lightly golden and soft. Add in the minced garlic and ginger, and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the red lentils, red curry paste, tomato paste, and spices, and cook until fragrant. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil.
Once the lentils and broth reach a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. Before serving, fold in the fresh spinach leaves, and pour in the coconut milk. At this point, taste the curry and adjust the seasoning according to your liking; add more salt or cayenne, if needed.
To serve, divide the wild rice equally into 4 bowls. Top each bowl with the curry, a dollop of yogurt, and fresh cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.
Recipe: Burrito Bowl with Roasted Corn and Poblano Peppers
For this burrito-inspired dinner bowl, I ditched the tortilla and layered everything into a big bowl. Tender brown rice, garlicky black beans, spicy roasted corn, fresh cherry tomatoes, avocado chunks, and the most delicious cilantro-lime dressing drizzled over the top — each bite is perfect!
The cilantro-lime dressing — made with fresh garlic, scallions, olive oil, and a touch of sour cream — is truly delicious slathered over anything, but especially over this veggie burrito bowl.
This is a meal that requires a few steps of prep work, but everything can be done simultaneously so the bowls come together in about half an hour total. All the components can also be made ahead and kept refrigerated so you can build your bowl and quickly reheat come dinnertime.
For the burrito bowl:
1 cup brown rice
4 medium ears sweet corn, kernels removed (about 4 cups)
1 medium poblano pepper, diced
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 medium avocado, pitted and cubed
1/2 cup cotija cheese, crumbled
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
For the cilantro-lime dressing:
1 cup cilantro leaves, tightly packed
2 cloves garlic
1 medium lime, peeled and seeds removed
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup sour cream (or greek yogurt)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 475°F. Cook the rice according to the package instructions, or follow these simple steps.
In a medium-sized bowl, toss the fresh corn kernels, diced poblano pepper, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, chipotle chili powder, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt together. Spread the corn evenly on a baking tray and roast for 8 minutes, tossing midway.
Heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant and deeply golden. Add the rinsed-and-drained black beans, cumin, and freshly cracked black pepper, and toss to coat. Deglaze the pan with the vegetable broth and cook until the liquid reduces to half.
Prepare the cilantro-lime dressing by blending the cilantro leaves, garlic, lime, scallions, sour cream, olive oil, and salt together until smooth.
Divide the brown rice evenly between 4 bowls. Top each bowl with a serving of the roasted corn, black beans, cubed avocado, and cherry tomato quarters. Drizzle the dressing over the top of each bowl, along with the crumbled cotija cheese.
Recipe: Quinoa Bowl with Kimchi, Miso Mushrooms, and Crispy Broccoli
There are so many different bursts of flavors and textures in this grain bowl recipe. We've got a bed of lightly seasoned, fluffy quinoa; spicy gochujang-spiked broccoli, with some crispy edges; miso-flavored shiitake mushrooms; and tangy kimchi to tie it together. What's not to love?
What I really love about this dish is how efficiently the components come together — while the quinoa cooks, you have spiced broccoli crisping up in the oven, and savory mushrooms sautéing on the stovetop. Everything finishes around the same time, and dinner is ready!
For the quinoa:
1 cup quinoa
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce (or 1/2 teaspoon tamari, if gluten-free)
For the broccoli:
1 large head broccoli (about 1 pound), cut into florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon gochujang (or sriracha)
1 tablespoon soy sauce (or 1/2 tablespoon tamari, if gluten-free)
1 clove garlic, minced
For the mushrooms:
1 tablespoon butter (or oil of choice)
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
4 cups shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon white miso paste
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sake (or white wine)
Freshly cracked black pepper
For the bowls:
1 cup kimchi
1/4 cup sliced scallions
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Prepare the quinoa according to the package instructions, or follow these simple steps. Once the quinoa is ready, drizzle the sesame oil and soy sauce over top. Toss to coat and keep the pot covered.
While the quinoa cooks, toss together the broccoli florets, olive oil, gochujang, soy sauce, and garlic together in a large bowl. Spread the broccoli onto a baking tray and roast for about 20 minutes, or until the florets are crispy, tossing midway.
When the broccoli goes in the oven, warm the butter over a medium heat in a large skillet. Add the sliced shallots and minced ginger, and cook for about 4 minutes, until soft and fragrant. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly golden. While the mushrooms are cooking, whisk the miso paste and rice wine vinegar together in a small bowl. Once the mushrooms have finished, pour in the miso mixture, stir to coat, and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the sake (or wine) and scrape the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat once the wine has reduced and thickened. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.
To serve, divide the quinoa between 4 bowls and top with a serving of the roasted broccoli, sautéed miso mushrooms, and kimchi of choice. Garnish each bowl with the sliced green onions and sesame seeds.
Recipe: Brown Rice Bowl with Lentils, Caramelized Onions & Fried Egg
Mujadara — a traditional Middle Eastern recipe made with long-grain rice, brown lentils, and caramelized onions — is typically served as a side dish. For this meatless dinner bowl version, we're serving up these smoky, cumin-scented lentils with a fried egg, spicy harissa, and toasted pine nuts, and calling it dinner!
For the mujadara:
1 cup brown basmati rice
1 cup brown lentils
4 1/2 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup parsley leaves, finely chopped
For the bowl:
Olive oil spray
4 large eggs
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons harissa (spicy or mild)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
In a large saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Add the brown rice, lentils, and a hefty pinch of salt, and return to a boil. Reduce the flame to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes, or until the rice and lentils are cooked through (add more liquid as needed). Once the rice and lentils are fully cooked, remove from the heat, but keep the lid on for another 10 minutes.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add in the sliced onions and cook until deeply browned and beginning to caramelize, about 20 minutes (add small amounts of water at a time to prevent the onions from burning; you can also continue cooking the onions for as long as the rice and lentils cook for a deeper caramelization). When the onions are deeply golden and almost finished, add in the minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
When the rice and lentils have finished cooking, fold half of the onion mixture, cumin, chopped parsley, and remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the pot. Reserve the rest of the onions for serving.
Wipe the skillet used to cook the onions clean, lightly grease with olive oil spray, and return to medium heat. Crack the eggs into the pan and cook to your desired doneness. Sprinkle the tops of the eggs with salt, pepper, and a dash of paprika. (Read more: How To Fry an Egg)
Divide the mujadara equally between 4 bowls and place a fried egg into each bowl. Garnish with the remaining caramelized onions, harissa, and toasted pine nuts.