Easy Grain Bowls

With a pot each of beans and rice, you have the foundation for a series of easy meals.

Grain bowls—sometimes called Buddha bowls—are generally composed of four or five components: grain, protein, veggies, sauce, and sprinkles. You can mix and match based on what you have in the fridge or what looks appealing at the Co-op. To make, just put warm or cold rice in a bowl and then arrange the other ingredients on top. That’s it.

Cooking your own rice and beans saves money, but if you are short on time, the Co-op deli always has black beans and rice. Fresh cooked rice should last four to six days in the fridge, while beans last three to five days. You can stretch the life of your beans or rice by freezing some to thaw later in the week, although the texture will change.

Grain Bowl Components

•    Grains: rice, wheat berries, teff, quinoa, barley, farro, etc. (Check the bulk section for lots of possibilities.)

•    Protein: beans, quinoa, tofu, tempeh, leftover meats such as chicken or sausage, etc.

•    Veggies: cube or julienne whatever you have in the fridge; make a slaw of carrot and cabbage (don’t add radish unless you plan to use it all in one day, as radish takes on a rather pungent smell—think kimchi); fermented veggies (the Co-op has several local krauts, in the cool case and in the deli); roast cubes of sweet potato and/or squash; thinly slice Purple Sprouting Broccoli or raab, etc.

•    Sauce: salad dressings (check the Serendipity dressings in Produce); the deli has Sunny Slather plus various sauces, dips, and hummus in the grab and go case; or you can make your own sauces—see recipes below.

•    Optional Sprinkles: nuts, hot sauces, chopped parsley, cilantro, or mint, and/or micro-greens.

Here are four days of grain bowls inspired by different cuisines: Japanese, Spanish, Thai, and “Port Townsend.” Each bowl can be done mostly with ready-made ingredients from the Co-op or you can make the components yourself.

Day One: Port Townsend Inspired Bowl

Easiest Version:

•   Black beans, rice, Midori Curtido, and Sunny Slather from the deli.

•   A simple slaw of julienned local carrots and cabbage with a dash of salt and some lemon or lime juice (make enough for two or three days).

•   Midori Hot Wax fermented pepper sauce (in the cooler case by the miso).

Home-made Components: Other than cooking your own beans and rice (make enough for several days), you can make your own sauce instead of using the Sunny Slather and make Sidonie’s lemon relish.

Easy Sauce

Put 1/2 cup tahini, 2-3 tablespoons of sweet or garbanzo miso, 3-4 tablespoons lemon juice or rice vinegar, and crushed garlic into a jar and shake it, adding a little water if necessary.

Sidonie’s Lemon Relish

Sidonie, who teaches cooking classes for the Co-op, created a relish that perks up any dish. To make it, cut off the top and tail of about five lemons. Slice them in the middle so you can get the seeds out, slice out the thick inner core, and roughly cut into chunks, add about 1-2 teaspoons of sea salt or to taste, and pulse in a food processor. (Yes, you do use the rind, pith and all.)

Day Two: Spanish Inspired Bowl


•   Black beans and rice from the deli. Stir a teaspoon of smoked sweet paprika (available in bulk spices) into the beans.

•   Thinly sliced Purple Sprouting Broccoli (or veg of your choice).

•   Pan fry or oven roast cubes of sweet potato tossed in olive oil and salt for about 10 minutes at 350%, until softish (make enough for at least two meals).

•   This Dip is Nuts (Roasted Green Chile and Pepita) almond sauce from grab and go case of deli, with 1-2 teaspoon of sweet smoked paprika stirred in.

•   Midori fermented Hot Wax hot sauce and/or Sidonie’s lemon relish.

Home-made Variation: Use your own grain and beans. Make your own almond sauce and/or make easy garlic sauce below. Leftover meat proteins, such as sausage cubes, could be added (the Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage vegan sausage from the deli case is quite tasty).

Creamy Almond Sauce (adapted from The New Spanish Table by Anya von Bremzen)

1/2 slice sandwich bread

1/3 cup blanched almonds, finely ground in food processor

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (you could substitute rice vinegar)

1/4 cup fragrant extra-virgin olive oil

1-3 garlic cloves, crushed (did you know you can get peeled garlic in Produce?)

1 teaspoon of smoked sweet paprika (do not sub Hungarian paprika)

Coarse salt

1.     Crumble bread, add cold water to soak briefly, then drain.

2.     Place bread in blender along with almonds, 3 tablespoons cold water, and the vinegar. Process to a paste. With the motor running, add the olive oil.

3.     Scrape mixture into a bowl, stir in garlic and paprika, and season with salt. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes to develop flavors. Keeps for two days.

Easy Garlic Sauce

Mix together 1 cup mayonnaise or plain yogurt, 1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1-3 crushed garlic cloves, and salt. Let sit at least 1/2 hour so the paprika doesn’t taste too raw.

Day Three: Japanese Inspired Bowl


•   Canned aduki beans (drained and rinsed) and rice from deli.

•   Serendipity Tamari Ginger Dressing from Produce.

•   Left over sweet potato cubes and carrot/cabbage slaw or fermented veggies

•   Cubed tofu (optional).

•   Edamame from the freezer case (optional, as it would need to be cooked)

•   Shredded nori on top.

Home-made: Cook your own beans and rice. Make your own dressing: Put 1-3 teaspoons finely chopped/shredded ginger, 1/4 cup miso, 1/8 cup rice vinegar, 1/8 cup mirin (optional), and dash of toasted sesame oil in a jar and shake. Adjust amounts of ingredients to suit your taste. Optional: add one teaspoon of maple syrup.

Day Four: Thai Inspired Bowl


•   Rice from deli.

•   Sauce made by mixing Thai Home Curry Paste (Grocery) with coconut milk (do not use low fat) and lime juice to taste.

•   Tofu cubes.

•   Leftover slaw and/or slivered Purple Sprouting Broccoli.

•   Optional: fermented veggies.

•   Sprinkle with peanuts.

•   Lime wedges on the side.

Home-made: Make your own curry paste and/or make a simple mango-mint salad.

Curry Paste

1 shallot, minced

1 stalk lemon grass, peeled and minced (traditional, although you can leave it out if you are short of time; the Co-op usually has lemon grass in stock, and apparently, it is also easy to grow yourself)

1-2 hot peppers, minced, or pinch of hot pepper flakes

4 cloves garlic

1 thumb-sized piece of galangal, peeled and chopped (or ginger, which is a easier to work with)

2 tablespoons fish sauce (or miso for a veg version)

1-3 tablespoons thick coconut milk

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon brown sugar or maple syrup (optional)

1 teaspoon shrimp paste (optional)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper, preferably white, but black is fine

Mix all ingredients in a blender or food processor, adding more coconut milk as necessary to get the consistency you want for your sauce. If the shallots make the paste too raw tasting, gently heat the mixture for five or so minutes. The paste keeps for a week in the fridge, or freeze it for later use.

Mango Mint Salad/Relish

1 mango, peeled and diced (the mango does not need to be ripe; alternatively, you can get it in the freezer compartment of the Co-op)

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon miso or 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce

1/4 cup minced mint leaves

Diced sweet red pepper (optional)

Minced green onion or shallot (optional)

Chopped peanuts (optional)

Diced chili (optional)

Diced cucumber (optional)

Cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)

Gently mix all ingredients together.

Other Favorite Sauces

When you have time (especially in the fall when you can get fresh local ingredients), make double or triple batches of these sauces and freeze them for later use.

Beduin Salsa (adapted from Bon Appetite)

5-7 hot peppers, jalapeños are good, but Hungarian hot wax peppers (Produce has Finnriver’s in the fall) have a nice balance of flavor and heat

1 head of garlic, cloves separated

1 onion, cut into 8ths

1 bunch parsley, chopped

3-5 tablespoons of lemon juice

1+ teaspoon sea salt

Pan roast the peppers, garlic, and onion on medium hight heat (without oil in pan) until soft, with some blackish spots (cast iron pans are great for this). Pulse parsley in a blender or food processor. Remove stems from peppers, peel the garlic, and add them to blender. Pulse, but not too long—you want a chunky salsa, not a gooey paste. Stir in lemon juice and salt to taste.

Spicy Green Sauce (also adapted from BA)

1 bunch parsley

1/2 cup nut butter of your choice (peanut and tahini are both lovely)

2-4 tablespoons of sweet or garbanzo miso

1-3 cloves garlic, chopped

2-4 tablespoons lemon juice or rice vinegar

1-2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

sea salt

Pulse the parsley in a blender or food processor. Add nut butter, sweet miso, and garlic. Pulse until salsa texture. Stir in lemon juice, sesame oil, pepper flakes, and sea salt to taste.

Peanut Sauce

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup sweet or garbanzo miso

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1-3 crushed garlic cloves

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Put all ingredients in a jar and shake. Add water to get the consistency you desire. Adjust ingredients to taste.

Chimichurri Sauce

1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley

2–3 cloves garlic

1/2–1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon dried oregano or 2 teaspoons fresh

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons red/white wine vinegar

1 large lemon, juice of

pinch of salt

Put the parsley, garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt, olive oil, vinegar and lemon in a food processor and blend until parsley is well chopped. Scrape down the sides as needed. Sauce should be chunky not too smooth.