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

Peanutty Fancy-Ish Ramen

It seems our Lockdown staple of ramen noodles isn’t going anywhere any time soon. DH and I are both still craving comfort, and I’m still on the war path when it comes to wasting ingredients and clearing the pantry – so we are having some mish-mashed meals as of late.

Which is all fine, provided I can continue to find ways to add at least a little nutritional value to dinner. Some sort of vegetable.

This dish elevates some pantry staples admirably, adding two sources of protein (if you add meat), and a veggie that can also serve as a freezer cleaner.

A note on ramen: I used pot noodles (aka cup o’ noodles) for this recipe. We are loving the Korean brand Budok lately – the base flavoring I went with was chicken cheese, but this would be great with pretty much any base flavor. Mushroom, chicken, chili chicken, shrimp, curry – all would be delicious.

vegetarian and vegan if you don’t add meat, gluten-free with substitutions

Peanutty Fancy-Ish Ramen

1 pot instant ramen per person (any flavor will do, or sub rice noodles for gluten free – a little chicken or veggie bouillon would add some nice flavor if you are not using the flavor packet that comes with the noodles)

2 Tbsp. peanut butter (I used a low sugar variety)

1/4 c. soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos

1 Tbsp. sambal olek (chili garlic sauce)

2 tsp. sesame oil

1 tsp. honey (sub agave for vegan)

2 small scallions, sliced thinly

Frozen spinach

Optional: leftover ground chicken or beef, soft boiled egg, fish cakes, leftover fried tofu, or other additional protein source

Sesame seeds for garnish

Combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, sambal, sesame oil and honey in a small pot over low heat. Simmer, stirring, until well combined and beginning to thicken. If your heat is too high and this mixture dries out too much like mine did, add a Tablespoon or two of water, stir quickly to combine, and move off the heat for a second or so to cool down a bit.

While the sauce is working, add frozen spinach to the noodle pots and fill with boiling water. Let sit 3 minutes and drain.

Add the noodles to the pot with the sauce, along with scallions, any additional protein sources, and the seasoning packet. Stir well to combine and garnish with sesame seeds.

Serves 2

Avocado Dill Pasta Salad

This recipe started off as a way to use up some fresh dill that wasn’t my favorite egg salad and somehow ended up morphing into a riff of an old Summer family favorite: seafood salad. Which I can’t believe I haven’t shared a recipe with y’all for yet. I c-r-a-v-e it every tomato season.

The original (to my family at least) salad included Krab, shrimp, hard boiled eggs & lots of mayo. Sometimes, depending upon which Aunt got a wild hair, chopped up bits of lettuce. Which is weird, but good.

Anyways. I gave myself an aversion to fake crab my first Summer out of high school (reminder, kids: check your expiration dates), so that was out. I swapped with flaked salmon but kept the shrimp in this version; I also sadly forgot the egg until I was eating trying to figure out what was missing. I was also wanting a little more mustard punch, so adjust yours as necessary.

And a note on seasoning: I happen to love this salad with way too much pepper and salt, because that’s how my family usually served it. This recipe includes a normal amount of each (depending on how HAM you go with the cracked pepper); I had to go back twice for more after the salad hit the fridge.

gluten-free, pescatarian, vegetarian and vegan with substitutions

Avocado Dill Pasta Salad

Dressing:

1 avocado (mine was small and I could have gone for more)

2 cloves garlic

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp. water

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Salad:

4 – 6 cups pasta of choice (I used rice spirals)

15 cherry tomatoes

1 smallish cucumber (about 2/3 cup chopped)

1 smallish bell pepper (about 1 cup chopped)

2 – 4 stalks celery (about 3/4 cup chopped)

1/2 shallot, minced

2 scallions, chopped

2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp. celery seed (if using celery salt instead, you may not need to salt the salad – taste, taste, taste)

Loads of fresh cracked black pepper

Salt

Shrimp (I used 13 medium), peeled, cooked & chopped (optional)

Krab, crab or salmon (also optional)

2 – 3 Tbsp. your favorite mayo (optional)

Start you pasta boiling according to package directions, taking care to salt the water. When almost done, chuck your shrimp in to cook. Drain and set aside.

Pull the shrimp and chop. Add to a large bowl.

Chop the cucumber, bell pepper, celery, scallion and parsley. Add to the big bowl.

Mince the shallot and add. Halve the tomatoes and add those too. Add the celery seed.

In a blender or food processor, blitz all dressing ingredients until smooth. If you want your dressing a little runny, add more water until desired consistency is reached. Mine turned out a bit thick, which I liked, but I ended up adding 2 – 3 Tbsp. Kewpie mayo to the salad to loosen it a bit.

Add the cooled-ish pasta and dressing to the bowl. Mix well to combine. Hit with a bunch of pepper. Taste. Add more salt, lemon juice or some mayo to finish off.

Stash in the fridge for a bit to chill and let the flavors get acquainted.

Serves 4 – 6 for a meal or more if a side

Thai-Style Red Curry

Finally! I’ve been trying to make a silky, luxurious feeling Thai-style red curry for a minute and keep screwing something up. Either I don’t let it reduce long enough, or I drown the flavors some how – or I forget a key component like curry paste or coconut milk.

This go round, I forgot to pick up coconut milk. I swear my kitchen eats the stuff. I’ve lost like 3 cans of it in the last few months. But, with a last-minute grocery trip I was all ready to go. Whoo. I’m glad I was, too – this is a good one.

gluten-free, paleo, pescatarian

Thai-Style Red Curry

1 can coconut milk

Veggie, fish or chicken stock (1 of the empty coconut milk cans’ worth)

2 Tbsp. Thai red curry paste

2 tsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. fish sauce

2 Tbsp. soy sauce/coconut aminos

Zest and juice of 1 lime

2 stalks fresh lemongrass, peeled to reveal the soft center – mince 1 and whack the other with the back of your knife to release its flavors while cooking

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 scallion, thinly sliced

2 Thai red chilis (optional), minced

1.5 cups pumpkin or butternut squash, chopped

3/4 cup chopped okra

2 Tbsp. minced basil

Minced smoked salmon (optional)

Rice to serve

This is a simple slow-cooker dump meal. Prep all ingredients and dump into your cooker (minus the salmon, basil and green parts of the scallions). Cook however you would make a stew.

When complete, add to a saucepan and simmer until reduced a bit and silky. Serve over rice, topped with the green parts of the scallion and chopped basil.

Serves 4

Salmon Soba Salad

This makes a nice little Summer dinner. It’s low fuss, can be eaten cold or room temperature, and dressed a bunch of different ways. As pasta salads can.

Gluten-free, pescatarian

Salmon Soba Salad

1 package soba noodles

2 salmon fillets

4 – 6 ounces watercress or microgreen

1/4 cup chives, snipped

1/2 cup scallions, sliced thin

Dressing

Juice of 1 lime

1 medium cucumber, sliced into thin ribbons or diced

1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

2 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 Tbsp. soy sauce or coconut aminos

1 tsp. honey

1 tsp. sriracha

Marinade

2 tsp. gochujiang

2 tsp. honey

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. sesame oil

Combine the marinade ingredients. Marinate the fish 30 mins – an hour. Discard marinade and bake or sauté the fish until your desired done ness is reached. I pan sautéed mine until medium with nice and crispy skin. Do watch the fish; your marinade has honey in it so it is like to burn. Mine did a bit, but it was still delicious.

While your fish is working, whisk the dressing ingredients together in a large bowl.

Cook your soba according to package directions, drain and set aside, adding a scant sprinkle of sesame oil and tossing quickly to avoid the noodles sticking together while they sit and cool. If you want your salad cold, chill in the fridge.

Dice and mince the cucumber and herbs. Add to the bowl. Add the micro greens. Add the noodles. Toss to combine.

To serve, plate up a bowl of noodle salad, topped with thick batons of fish and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Serves 2

Orange Salmon

This recipe is unabashedly stolen from a (mostly) Internet friend, who daily sets his sights on making the rest of us in our little corner of the (virtual) world drool.

Gluten-free, pescatarian

Orange Salmon

2 salmon fillets

1-2 cups cooked rice

1 cup snow peas

1 orange

1 thumb + 1 thumb ginger

1 Tbsp. + 2 Tbsp. sesame oil

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 Tbsp. rice vinegar (the original recipe called for mirin, but I can’t get that where i live)

1 Tbsp. honey

2 cloves garlic

1 green onion

Sesame seeds

Mix together the soy sauce, 2 Tbsp. sesame oil, rice vinegar and honey. Grate and stir in the garlic and 1 thumb ginger.

Brush the mixture over your salmon and place skin side up on a prepared baking sheet.

Broil 3 – 5 minutes, flip, baste, and broil another minute or two – until your desired done ness is reached.

While the salmon is working, bring the other Tablespoon of sesame oil up to medium-high in a large pan. Add the snow peas in and toss. Grate the second thumb of ginger in and toss. Zest the orange and toss in.

Sauté until browned in spots. Remove.

Supreme the orange and slice each segment into thirds.

To serve, toss the rice with the segmented orange. Thinly slice the green onion and toss in.

Arrange the rice mix in a bowl, top with a bed of snow peas, and a salmon filet. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the whole lot.

Serves 2 for dinner

Hummus Salmon with Relish

This was one of those providential recipes that just sort of fell together. I was craving a bright salad – where I live, cucumber/tomato salad is ubiquitous – my auto-pilot has Asian flavors on the brain – and I had half a tub of premade hummus that needed using up. And past-me was smart and put two salmon fillets in the freezer. Go, past-me. Thanks for looking out.

gluten-free, pescatarian

Hummus Salad with Relish

First, start the salmon:

1 salmon fillet per person (defrosted if frozen)

Red chili powder

Cumin powder

Salt & pepper

Pat the salmon dry, dust with spices on both sides and pan sautee in a couple spritzes neutral oil until your desired doneness is reached. We like a nice medium.

While the salmon is working, make the relish:

1 medium cucumber, chopped

1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered

1 ounce pickled ginger, minced

2 tsp. sriracha

2 Tbsp. coconut aminos

Juice of 1 lime

I scallion, minced

Combine all relish ingredients and let sit.

To serve:

Leftover rice cooked in chicken stock (I had a mixture of basmati and wild rice I’d made a few days before)

3-4 Tbsp. hummus per person

To assemble, line the bowl with a generous smear of hummus. Top with the rice, lay the fish on top of that and spoon some relish over the whole shebang.

Makes enough relish for 4; the rest is up to you

Chili Tuna Fried Rice

This pantry-friendly fried rice is quick enough for a weeknight meal (for when the world gets back to working outside the home), and makes a great lunch the next day if there are leftovers.

Gluten-free, pescatarian

Chili Tuna Fried Rice

1.5 cups leftover cooked rice (I used sushi rice)

1/3 cup frozen shelled edamame

1/3 cup frozen cut green beans

2 Tbsp. neutral oil

2 eggs

1/4 cup coconut aminos

1 Tbsp. fish sauce

1 Tbsp. sambal olek

1 green onion, sliced

1/2 can chili tuna in oil, drained

Add your neutral oil to a large pan over high heat. When it shimmers, add the frozen veggies and green onion. Stir fry until no longer frozen and starting to look cooked.

Add the rice and tuna. Continue to stir fry until the veggies begin to brown.

Make a well in the center of the rice mixture and crack the eggs in. Let sit until the bottom is firm, then scrape up, folding into the rice mix.

Add the coconut aminos, fish sauce and sambal. Stir quickly to combine.

As written, serves 2 for dinner