Multipurpose Grain Bowl

This week, I was really attracted to the Buddha bowl pics scattered throughout my Pinterest feed and didn’t want to make 9,000 ingredients – so I worked to combine a list (albeit a large list) of simple ingredients in a variety of ways to make the best of a simple mixture of quinoa + rice.

My week 100% could have been more cost-effective, but it gave me a good dose of the ingredients combining kind of Chopped Kitchen kind of life I’ve been missing.

Quinoa & Rice Base

3/4 c. quinoa (rinse if you’re not lazy like me)

3/4 c. sushi rice (rinse if you aren’t lazy like me)

2 Tbsp. mushroom-based umami powder

1 Tbsp. vinegar (I usually use rice vinegar but only had black vinegar on hand)

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

Big sprinkle salt

3c. water

Combine all and set your rice cooker to cook. Alternately, sushi rice & quinoa both take about 25 minutes to cook on the stove.

Now for the mix-ins to transform this simple added-protein base into a few different dishes.

Day 1: Sesame Crusted Salmon Bowl

Sesame crusted salmon (take 1 salmon steak, skin and de-bone. Pat dry. Brush with a little soy sauce and sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds. Press the sesame seeds into the fish to adhere. Shallow fry over medium-high in a pan until cooked to your desired doneness. Drain on paper towels until ready to use.)

Quinoa + sushi rice base (see recipe above)

Avocado, sliced or cubed

Lemon sesame pickled cucumbers , diced

Pickled ginger, minced

Nori

Roasted butternut squash (Mix 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. sesame oil, 1/2 tsp. date molasses & 1/2 tsp. white miso into a sauce – drizzle over a halved and seeded butternut squash and bake @ 400F for 25 mins or until soft and browned)

Sauce

1 Tbsp. peanut butter (tahini would also be great)

1 tsp. white miso

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 tsp. Bulldog sauce (or Worcestershire)

2 tsp. black vinegar (or sushi vinegar)

1 Tbsp. water

1 tsp. your favorite hot sauce (I used a habanero mix)

To make your bowl, assemble about half a cup of the quinoa mix and later the desired amount of the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle sauce over top and sprinkle with thinly sliced nori. Dust with more sesame if desired.

Day 2: Spicy Fiesta(ish) Bowl

1/2 c. frozen corn

1 bell pepper, chopped

1/4 red onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

Sauté the above in olive oil; season with salt, pepper & Tony’s Creole seasoning or your favorite spicy mix

Bowl Base

1/2 c. quinoa

1 hand full cilantro, chopped

1 Tbsp. water

1 Tbsp. lime juice

Add the water to the quinoa and zap to warm. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice.

Sauce

2 Tbsp. your favorite plain yogurt (mine is a plain coconut milk)

2 tsp. – 1 Tbsp. your favorite hot sauce (mine is a habanero garlic mix)

Stir to combine.

Toppers

Avocado

Butternut squash leftover from the first bowl

To make your bowl, assemble about half a cup of the quinoa mix and later the desired amount of the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle sauce over top and top with avocado & squash.

Day 3: Spiced Chickpea Veggie Bowl

1.5 c. chopped kale

1/2 small red onion, diced

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 lg. zucchini, diced

1 Tbsp. oil

Salt & pepper

Sauce

1/4 c. yogurt

1 Tbsp. almond butter

1 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. sumac

2 tsp. lemon juice

Leftover Bowl Components

Butternut squash

Quinoa rice mix

Topper

Avocado

Roasted chickpeas (I usually buy mine and have an Indian spiced variety that’s amazing)

To make your bowl, assemble about half a cup of the quinoa mix and later the desired amount of the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle sauce over top and add avocado & chickpeas.

Random Bowl Combinations

Quinoa mix, salmon, avocado, butternut squash, pickled cucumber, pickled ginger, Kewpie Mayo, garlic hot sauce, soy sauce

Green Sauce Salad

This green sauce makes a fantastic all-around dressing to keep on hand as a meat seasoning, salad dressing, dip, and little add-in to something like a nice grain bowl for a flavor punch.

A note on spice: I used 1 Tbsp. Fiery Fool hot sauce. This stuff is hot, and it made my sauce nice and spicy. I lean toward spice so I would totally suggest going in that direction. If you do not, a de-seeded jalapeño would be fine.

gluten-free, paleo, pescatarian

Great Green Sauce Salad

Sauce

10 cloves garlic

4 scallions (reserve 2 + 2 of the dark green parts for the salad body)

1/4 c. cilantro

1 Tbsp. your favorite pretty dang hot hot sauce (see head note)

1 Tbsp. vinegar (I used black vinegar)

1 Tbsp. fish sauce

1 Tbsp. sweetener (I used brown sugar)

1/3 c. olive oil

Salad

10 radishes, sliced into thin moons

3 – 4 small cucumbers, sliced into thin moons

2 scallions (whole), sliced thin + 2 green parts of scallions, also sliced thin

1/2 c. snap peas, sliced thin on the bias

1 jalapeño

5 – 10 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

Optional: Chicken that’s been marinated and sauteed in some sauce

Topper: Finishing salt & fresh cracked black pepper

To make the dressing, blitz all the sauce ingredients, incorporating the oil in a steady stream to make an emulsification. Set aside.

Assemble the salad by tossing all salad ingredients together. Add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the sauce to dress and top with some finishing salt & freshly cracked black pepper before serving.

Serves 2 for dinner beefed up with a protein (I had mine with leftover chicken, but steak bites, salmon or tofu chunks would also be great)

Tomato Salad Goes To Asia

I don’t know about you, but it’s boiling hot where I live – aaaaand I ate so much on my vacation to the States that pretty much all I want is a crisp, refreshing salad. With no lettuce, because it’s not my favorite way to do salad.

This recipe is a riff on a Vietnamese version I read in a magazine on the plane – if I remember correctly, that version had less in the way of heat and less in the way of vinegar. I had leftovers of this salad for days (yay, a salad that gets even better as it ages) and liked the days I remembered to add a little extra lime juice kick the most.

gluten-free (check your labels), paleo, pescatarian, low carb

Tomato Salad Goes To Asia

1/4 c. sugar (I used brown)

1/4 c. fish sauce

1/4 c. lime juice + more for serving

1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

Big pinch red pepper flakes

1 Tbsp. sesame seeds (optional)

Generous bit freshly cracked pepper

500g cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 fennel bulb, sliced into thin moons

3 small or 1 large cucumber, sliced into thin moons

1 long pepper (your fav variety – I used something red akin to a Cubanele)

2 c. mixed herbs (I used cilantro, mint & dill)

Toppers: Roasted, salted peanuts, French fried onions, green onion slices, finishing salt, extra squeeze lime juice, extra cracks black pepper

Combine all ingredients listed before the tomatoes in a jar and shake until we’ll combined and the sugar has dissolved.

Chuck the rest of the non-topper ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with the dressing.

Serve with your desired toppers and enjoy for a few meals.

Serves 4-6

Cucumber Salad with Zhoug Sauce

This is a great riff on a classic Middle Eastern sauce (kinda like the ME version of chimichurri) with a nice, light salad.

This sauce can also be used as a meat marinade, as a topper for crispy potatoes, as a sauce in a sandwich, mixed with zucchini, avocado & peas in pasta, and as a mix-in for rice. I’m sure there are 999999 other ways to use it, but I ran out before I could try more. Which I will. I suspect this would be bomb with a Kewpie mayo egg salad sandwich.

I think next time I make this sauce, I’ll use a mortar & pestle instead of a blender – my favorite version from a local restaurant has a thicker mince and even punchier garlic.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, low-carb

Cucumber Salad with Zhoug Sauce

Zhoug

6 cloves garlic

3 jalapeños (or a mix of jalapeños and other peppers – seed if you need to)

1 cup flat leaf parsley

1 cup cilantro

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

Pinch cayenne

1/2 tsp. ground cardamom

Pinch sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. lime juice

1/2 c. olive oil

Blend to combine in your food processor or blender until your desired consistency is reached.

Salad

2-3 small cucumbers or 1 large English cucumber, sliced thinly or diced

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1/4 c. fresh dill, chopped

1 small red onion, sliced wafer thin

Generous amount flake salt & black pepper

1/2 c. zhoug sauce

Combine and let sit 1/2 an hour or more to let the flavors meld.

Serves a few as a simple side with a protein. Would also make a fantastic bbq side in place of a Southern-style cucumber salad.

Okra Curry

Finally. A curry with taste! I have been crap at making truly flavorful curries in general – I find recipes either too light in the spice for my taste, or just generally falling flat of the kind of deeply layered taste thing I love when enjoying my favorite delivery curries.

This is a step in that direction. It’s complex, flavorful, and wholly satisfying.

A word of caution for this recipe: I served mine with just a side of basmati rice, and I was still hungry. Either the carb ratio was off, or the meal needed some protein or fat to be truly filling.

Note: This recipe uses some of the Good Standard Curry I posted last week. That curry is a fantastic base for all number of other curries – I’m hoping I’ll get one more shot at transforming it into something else before I run out. Luckily, it freezes beautifully in batches.

gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan

Okra Curry

1/2 yellow onion

2 cloves garlic

1 green chili of your choice

400-500g can diced or crushed tomatoes

1 Tbsp. ground coriander

1 Tbsp. ground cumin

1 Tbsp. smoked paprika

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

1.5 c. chopped okra

1 bell pepper

1 c. of the Good Standard Curry I posted a recipe for last week

Your favorite cooking oil

Salt & pepper

Chop your onion and garlic. Mince the chili. Fry in a little oil until just beginning to brown.

Add about a quarter cup of water, let simmer about 5 minutes while you are prepping the next step.

While the aromatics are softening, in another pan, fry the coriander, cumin, smoked paprika and tomato paste in a little oil about a minute, or until fragrant.

Add the canned tomatoes, stir well, and simmer 10 minutes.

While the tomatoes are simmering, Whiz the onion mixture to form a paste. Chop the okra and bell pepper.

Add the onion mix, okra, bell pepper and curry base. Simmer 20 minutes, season well with salt and pepper and serve.

I served mine with basmati rice cooked with a little butter – you do you.

Serves 4-6

Fresh Shakshouka

This version of shakshouka makes a great topper for crusty bread, uses a good blend of fresh + pantry ingredients – and makes a bonus second meal if you swirl some of your leftover sauce in with noodles.

It’s also DH approved, and he’s not a fan of skin-on tomatoes. He could live without the spinach, but we had greens and needed chlorophyll.

This would also be great with chickpeas for added protein and either scrambled or poached eggs/substitute cooked in the sauce. I wanted to keep my eggs separate to maximize leftovers. Scrambled soft tofu would be fantastic.

gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, halal

Fresh Shakshouka

1 small jar fire roasted peppers in oil

2 hands cherry tomatoes

1 large onion

4 Tbsp. zaatar

1 Tbsp. smoked paprika

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1/2 c. tinned tomatoes (I used crushed but use what you have)

2 tsp. sambal olek (this is my favorite)

1/2 c. parsley

Baby spinach

Eggs

Crusty bread

3 – 4 cloves garlic – 2-3 minced and 1 or 2 whole with the end sliced off

Thinly slice the onion and sauté on medium in 1 Tbsp. of the oil that comes from the jar of peppers until soft and lightly brown in spots.

Add the sambal and 2 – 3 cloves minced garlic. Sauté a minute or two more to meld together.

While that is working, remove the peppers from the oil and roughly chop.

Add the tomatoes and peppers and sauté until the tomatoes burst.

While the tomatoes are doing their thing, roughly chop the parsley, slice the bread into thick slices and drizzle with some of the pepper oil.

Broil the bread until your desired toast level has been reached. Remove from the oven and rub with the cut end of the reserved garlic clove. Set aside.

When the tomatoes have burst (with or without a little help), add the Zaatar, smoked paprika, salt & pepper. Stir to combine and let sauté a minute or so to meld.

Add the tomato paste, canned tomatoes, and half a cup of water. Bring up to a boil, reduce the heat, add the spinach + half the parsley on top, and simmer 7 – 8 minutes. As soon as that spinach wilts and can be thoroughly mixed in is the time to add eggs if you are cooking them like a traditional Shakshouka.

If you are not, fry your eggs separately in a little of the pepper oil to your desired doneness.

Serves 2 for a light dinner + makes enough sauce to be used for another night’s pasta

Quick Spinach Rice Lunch

I make this – or a variation on this – quite often for lunch later in the week, when I’ve got leftovers kicking around in the fridge, am out of my main protein, and still have some of this week’s spinach hanging around that is quickly going to age itself right out of my fridge.

For this version, I resisted the temptation to go Southeast Asian like usual (this dish 99.9% of the time turns out vaguely Japanese), and went Indian instead. I’m glad I broke out of my comfort zone a little and I think I’ll make this again on purpose for dinner some night.

gluten-free, lacto-ovo vegetarian

Quick Spinach Rice Lunch

1 cup leftover basmati rice

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons sesame or mustard oil

1/2 inch fresh ginger

1 clove garlic

1 big hand full spinach

Turmeric

Crispy chickpeas (these are my favorite)

1 green chili

To reheat your rice – any rice – without it drying out, add a Tablespoon or two of water, put the lid back on really loosely and zap in the microwave for :45 to 1:00. Boom. Steamed and refreshed rice.

Fry the eggs to your liking in the oil, seasoning with salt and pepper and adding a liberal sprinkle of turmeric when you flip. Add the spinach on top of that to wilt a couple seconds while the yolks finish setting to your desired doneness (I love a good runny yolk, so I separated my whites from yolks, scooted them to the side and added the spinach more to that side so I could see to yank the yolks when they were just barely set).

Grate the ginger and garlic into the rice.

Mince the chili (de-seeding if necessary) and add to the rice.

Add the eggs on top, along with a small hand of the crispy chickpeas.

Stir to combine.

Serves 1 for lunch

Roasted Veggie Pizza

This is a dead simple dinner that’s quick to prepare and easy to make in bulk for meal prepping.

It’s also healthy – according to my DH, *too* healthy, and can’t be classified as ‘pizza’. 😆 Call it a flatbread, then.

I was a big fan, and ended up eating the leftover hummus & veggies in a bunch of different ways throughout the week.

vegetarian, vegan

Roasted Veggie Pizza

Mixed veggies: I used a combo of zucchini, eggplant, peppers, carrots and onions

Hummus

Some sort of pizza base: I used bran pita, but naan would be great here, as would tortillas or pizza dough flats

Edamame, cooked and shelled

Black olives

Sun dried tomatoes

Red pepper flakes

Zaatar

Oil, salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 200C/400F. Chop your veggies into bite-sized pieces, and arrange on a prepared baking sheet in a single layer.

Drizzle some oil over and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and spread back out in a single layer.

Bake 15 minutes, flip, and bake an additional 10 – 15 minutes or until your desired brownness is reached. Remove and set aside.

The rest is simple. Prep your edamame if it came shelled like mine did. Set aside.

To assemble, spread hummus out in a thin-ish layer on your flatbread like you would marinara on a pizza. Arrange your roasted veggies on top, adding a sprinkle of edamame, olives and sun dried tomato to Zhuzh up your pizza a bit.

Sprinkle spices over top.

Bake on a cookie sheet 10 minutes or until crisp. Pull and slice.

Serves a few

Sweet Potato Chicken Meatballs

This is a healthy little snack or light main that’s high in nutrients and can really help to stretch a pound of ground meat further. A win-win in my book.

gluten-free, paleo, Whole30

Sweet Potato Chicken Meatballs

1 lb. ground chicken

1.5 cups grated sweet potato

2 Tbsp. flour (as a binder – potato starch or tapioca flour would work well)

2 scallions, minced

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 Tbsp. onion powder

2 tsp. soy sauce or coconut aminos

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

2 Tbsp. light oil – I used turmeric olive oil; coconut or nut oil would be fine

2 Tbsp. cornstarch (arrowroot powder is fine)

2 tsp. ground cumin

Combine all ingredients and mix until incorporated. Parcel out into golf ball sized meatballs and bake at 200C/375F 10 minutes; flip, bake an additional 10 minutes.

Serves 4 as a main and more as a snack

Shaved Zucchini + Stone Fruit Salad

I love a good end-of-Summer savory fruit salad. It’s kind of a yearly thing with my brain, and I’m here for it.

Stone Fruit Salad

Lots of peach salad recipes

This is no exception to that rule. This salad is about as light as one would expect, but works well. I worried that the zucchini wouldn’t be great, but it was; even raw. The key here is to peel it into ribbons. I used my regular vegetable peeler. My ribbons weren’t even, but they were delicious.

So much so, I can’t really say this is more than a 1-person meal. I mean, sure, you can feed 2 if you want to throw a main in, but I managed to knock it out in a second helping at lunch.

If you can’t find the Kewpie dressing, a nice sesame would be good. So would my love pomegranate molasses. Balsamic would also work really well. Grapefruit would play nicely.

I had also meant to grab some good vegan Feta for this salad but forgot. It would be nice and would definitely help fill this out to more of a meal, but wasn’t necessary.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, paleo

Shaved Zucchini + Stone Fruit Salad

1 large zucchini, ribboned thinly

1/2 shallot, minced

1 plum, chopped

3Tbsp. Kewpie no-oil Yuzu dressing

1Tbsp. your favorite neutral oil

2Tbsp. smoked almonds, chopped

1.5tsp. fresh thyme

1/4c. fresh parsley, chopped

1/2tsp. red chili flakes

Ribbon the zucchini thinly and add to a large bowl.

I tossed any ribbons that were purely peel to the pups, and stopped when I hit all-seed strips. A bit is wasted here, but can be easily chopped and chucked in a pan for a quick little pop of veggie later in the week. I ended up using mine in a breakfast zucchini & fried egg rice with browned butter and snipped chives.

Mince the shallot, de-stem the thyme, and chop both the parsley and plum. Add to the bowl.

Add the red chili flakes, along with the dressing and oil. I’d start with 2 Tbsp. dressing, toss, and see if it needs more. Hit with a few grinds salt and pepper.

When it’s time to plate, add the chopped almonds and toss quickly so they don’t go soggy.

Serves 1 – 2 for lunch depending upon what all else you have going on