This is my go-to dish for busy (and hot) summer nights – a hearty bowl of cooked grains, grilled or roasted veggies and fresh herbs or lettuces. The components can all be prepared ahead of time – including the grains – and assembled for a healthy, last minute meal. Keep it vegetarian – even vegan – with grains and veggies or a can of beans seasoned with olive oil. For a protein-packed dinner, top off your bowl with some grilled shrimp or chicken or even a fried egg or tofu. Bliss in a bowl…to your own design. Tomato, veggie and grain bowls are the bowls of summer.
For the grains
I like to use either steamed rice (which I make in my rice cooker and keep on the “warm” setting until I am ready to serve) or quick cooking grains such as quinoa (which takes only 10 minutes), bulgur (20 minutes) or pearl barley (30 minutes). Toss them with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper before serving or storing in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Char some eggplant, zucchini or asparagus (or your favorite veggie – mushrooms, corn, you name it) on a grill pan (or on the grill, but who can be bothered to heat up the grill for such a quick dinner). Throw a few beets into a packet of aluminum foil with a drizzle of olive oil and roast them at 350° for an hour – peel and slice into wedges, and season with olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper.
Try an assortment of fresh herbs (dill, cilantro, basil), greens (arugula, romaine, spinach) nuts and seeds (marcona almonds, roasted pumpkin seeds, toasted or black sesame seeds), dried fruit (raisins, currants, cranberries), tomatoes, green onions, or sweet bell peppers. I love to throw in some sliced avocado as well.
You could go as simple as lemon juice and olive oil, or whisk up my favorite jar dressing: Add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard to a canning jar (with a tight fitting lid) Add about 4 tablespoons of lemon juice or your favorite vinegar and double that amount of olive oil. Season it well with salt and pepper. I like to throw in some chopped herbs – chives, dill or parsley work nicely. Add zip with some crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese. Shake it well until emulsified – the dressing will keep in the fridge for a few days.
Scoop some grains into a bowl. Arrange veggies around the bowl and sprinkle with desired toppers. Drizzle dressing over the top and serve.