Buddha Bowls

Last week was my turn to prepare lunch for my quilt group.  I tried a new idea I’d recently learned about called Buddha Bowls.  It was a huge hit.  If you have a large crowd to feed and if you need to be sensitive to any dietary restrictions, this is a great meal to serve!  Everyone creates or builds their own bowl with the ingredients they like.

“Buddha Bowl” is a fun name for a simple idea: a one-dish meal that’s made by piling a healthy combination of whole grains, vegetables, protein, legumes, and a nice  sauce or dressing in a large, single-serving bowl.  Then you add toppings like nuts, seeds, herbs, dried onions or wontons, or sprouts.

There is some speculation about where the name originated. One article on Epicurious tied the name to how the Buddha would carry a bowl with him in his travels and fill it with food that was given to him given by people he met along the way. Others think the mounded top of the filled bowl looks like a Buddha statue’s belly.

Here are the ingredients I chose to serve last week:

Brown rice
Chicken (Costco rotisserie)
Steamed or roasted broccoli
Steamed or roasted zucchini, yellow squash, carrots
Black beans, garbanzo or kidney beans
Mexican Street Corn (from Costco)
Chopped green, yellow, red peppers,
Chopped celery, cucumber, tomatoes
Toppings:  slivered almonds, peanuts, crunchy fried onions, wonton strips
Asian slaw salad mix (mostly red & green cabbage)
Mandarin oranges or pineapple tidbits
Lime wedges for juice

You could also add sautéed onions or mushrooms

Dressings or sauces: 
Asian Sesame salad dressing  (the favorite choice)
Thai or peanut sauces
Ranch Dressing
Cilantro Lime dressing

You can find lots of ideas about different kinds of Buddha Bowls online.

Here’s some more information by Mary Margaret Chappell (Jan 15, 2020) about everything you need to know to prepare and enjoy a Buddha bowl:

Fill the bottom of a large (2- to 3-cups is ideal) bowl ⅓ of the way with hot or cold whole grains, like brown rice, bulgur, barley, quinoa, or polenta. Whole grains are the most common Buddha bowl foundations, but you can also branch out to other complex carbs like potatoes, whole grain pasta, and noodles, which also absorb flavors well.

Arrange an assortment of vegetables in clusters overtop the base. Choose veggies with colors and consistencies that will play off each other, like crisp steamed broccoli with tender cubes of butternut squash, creamy avocado slices with crunchy corn kernels, or juicy red beets with light, bright green peas. Use as many as you like—or as many as will fit! And don’t forget greens! When prepping, keep all toppings bite-sized so they’re easy to stir together and eat with a fork or spoon.

Fill out the bowl with ½ to 1 cup of super satiating plant-based ingredients, such as lentils, black beans, chickpeas, edamame, and other legumes.

Nuts, seeds, diced fruit (fresh or dried), chopped onion, and herbs all go on the nearly finished Buddha bowl now. Keep add-ons to a tablespoon or two, and limit herbs to about a teaspoon so they don’t overpower the other bowl components.

The sauce you use to season your Buddha bowl brings together all the flavors of the base and toppings. Pestos, pasta sauces, peanut sauce, miso sauce, salad dressings, and dips all make great Buddha bowl options, and sometimes just a squeeze of lemon juice is all you need.

Sometimes a luscious-sounding combo of your favorite ingredients ends up needing a little something to bring all those fabulous flavors together. Here are 10 quick-fix ideas to try:

Squeeze of citrus juice
Sprinkle of nutritional yeast
Shake of hemp, chia, sesame, or flaxseeds
Dash of hot sauce
Drizzle of maple syrup
Pinch of curry or chili powder
Few drops of soy sauce
Drizzle of vegetable broth
Dollop of barbecue sauce
Squeeze of mustard
Swirl of tahini, tahini sauce, or nut butter

I hope you try this!  I think I’ll be making Buddha Bowls for a long time now.  They’re fun, healthy, tasty and easy to throw together with whatever is in your fridge.  Bon Appetit!

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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