This Asian-style grain bowl with broccoli and sesame-ginger sauce is our weeknight favorite.
Have you noticed how the popularity of “bowls” has skyrocketed in the recent years? I’m not referring to the bowl as the round, high-sided vessel – I’m talking about the “bowl” as a type of food.
There’s the grain bowl, the burrito bowl, the poke bowl, the soba noodle bowl, the acai bowl, the chia pudding bowl, and don’t even get me started on the smoothie bowl (a smoothie is a job for a glass!).
I think the popularity of the “bowl” can be partially attributed to today’s fast-paced culture. You see, foods in bowls don’t require a knife to be eaten – just a spoon or fork. Thus, you only need one hand to scoop the food into your mouth, leaving the other one free to type emails or reply to texts. (Which absolutely cannot wait until after lunch, because we all know our lives would implode if we put our phones down even for 10 minutes, right?)
Regardless, I’m a huge fan of the grain bowl since it’s the fastest foolproof way to a healthy meal and most variations can be batch-prepped in advance. So how do you make a weeknight grain bowl?
The key to the perfect grain bowl is the contrast of hot and cold temperatures, and of chewy and crunchy textures, as well as a killer dressing to tie it all together.
Here’s my vegan grain bowl formula:
A warm grain, like brown rice, quinoa, millet, barley, or farro
A warm cooked vegetable, like cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, or beets
A cold raw vegetable and/or greens, like carrots, cucumbers, cabbage, avocado, radishes, spinach, kale, or arugula
A plant-based protein, like beans, chickpeas, lentils, edamame, tofu, or tempeh
A yummy sauce, like a classic vinaigrette, creamy tahini dressing, or the sesame ginger sauce below
A fun topping or 2, like sesame, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, nuts, croutons, crumbled nori, fresh herbs, or sprouts
The sauce for this Asian-style grain bowl is inspired by Original Grain, my go-to lunch place in downtown Syracuse. It’s strong on the umami from the soy sauce, nutty thanks to the peanut butter and sesame oil, and has just a hint of sweetness from the maple syrup and seasoned rice vinegar.
I suggest doubling the amount of the sauce and keeping it in the fridge for drizzling on basically everything, or for marinating tofu, tempeh, or vegetables. I also took inspiration from Original Grain by using not one grain but two, since I love the combo of earthy quinoa and chewy millet, but you can use just one if you like. (What is millet? An ancient nutrient-dense gluten-free seed – or “pseudo-grain” – that hails from Africa).
Feel free to use this recipe as a template to create the grain bowl of your own dreams!
Make a double batch of the sesame ginger sauce and keep it in the fridge for drizzling on basically everything, or for marinating tofu, tempeh, or vegetables. I love the combo of earthy quinoa and chewy millet, but you can use just one grain here if you’d like.
For the Bowl
- Sea salt
- ½ cup quinoa, rinsed
- ½ cup millet, rinsed
- 1 large head of broccoli, cut into florets
- 1–2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ½ bunch curly kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
- 2 cups thawed shelled organic edamame
- ¼ head purple cabbage, finely shredded (about 2 cups) (See Note)
- Toasted sesame seeds, for serving
For the Sesame Ginger Sauce
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 3 tablespoons canola or other neutral-tasting oil
- 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup or honey
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- Bring 1 ¾ cups water to a boil in a small pot. Season with ¼ teaspoon salt and add the quinoa and millet. Reduce the heat to low, cover tightly with a lid, and simmer until all the water is absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes – do not stir while it’s cooking. Turn the heat off and let stand covered for 10 minutes to steam.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Place the broccoli on a baking sheet and toss with enough oil to cover the florets evenly. Season with the paprika, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper. Toss and arrange in a single layer. Roast for about 20 minutes, tossing once halfway through cooking, until the broccoli is nicely browned and crispy.
- Meanwhile, make the dressing. In a bowl, whisk together the garlic, ginger, oil, vinegar, soy sauce, peanut butter, maple syrup, and sesame oil. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. (The dressing can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 10 days).
- Place the kale in a bowl and drizzle with a tiny bit of the dressing. Using your hands, massage the kale for 1 minute, until it is slightly wilted and darker in color.
- To serve, divide the kale among 4 bowls and top with the grains, broccoli, edamame, purple cabbage, and sesame seeds. Drizzle with dressing as desired.
For uniformly shredded cabbage and to save time, use your food processor fitted with the shredding attachment.
- Serving Size: 1/4 of the recipe with dressing
- Calories: 488
- Carbohydrates: 55.1 g
- Fiber: 10.1 g
- Protein: 18.1 g
Keywords: grain bowl sauces, sesame, ginger, sauce, broccoli