Anyone else wondering what to make for dinner #2,376, during this Covid 19 lockdown? Well, I can share with you how we’ve been putting together meals in this house.
As many of you know, I have a longstanding relationship with bowls. And by bowls I mean meals served in a bowl, comprised of different elements like protein, cooked grains or noodles, raw, cooked or roasted vegetables, herbs, a creamy sauce, and often a crunchy topping (like nuts, seeds, etc…). This is how we have eaten for years, and how we like to serve food when we entertain (think rice bowls with a Thai curry, toppings, etc…). It was also the menu we designed for our food cart Native Bowl back in the day.
So fast forward to our current day situation. We probably tend to have a random mix of food in our fridge and pantries (if we’re lucky). Now, the question is how to fill your fridge with components that can be easily thrown together to make delicious meals.
I generally start with a cooked grain. Lately that has been either sushi rice or a brown rice quinoa mixture that I like to make in the rice cooker. Although there are 3 of us currently in the house, I generally make a good size amount that will last for 5 days or so. For us that is a ratio of 3 cups Calrose rice + 3 cups water, cooked in the rice cooker. For the brown rice and quinoa mix, I usually do 1 1/2 cups brown rice (any variety) + 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa + 3 cups water. I use the quick cooking function on my electric rice cooker. You can add bouillon or broth to the water, but leaving it unseasoned makes it easier to add it into a variety of breakfast or dinner bowls.
For the protein, my go-to is tofu (diced and uncooked, or sautéed or grilled), Soy Curls, or beans, but you can add whatever you like or have on hand. This is especially helpful if you have a mixed group of eaters in your house. You could have a couple different cooked proteins to choose from.
For the veggies, I like to have containers of washed greens like arugula, mixed lettuces or chopped or shredded cabbage. If you want to, you can also have a container of steamed or grilled vegetables (like carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, or sweet potatoes). It just adds another level of veggies and flavors to your bowl.
Next up is a creamy sauce. The peanut sauce recipe below is a really delicious one, and you can double or triple the recipe (to have extra in your fridge). You can also sub regular peanut butter for the peanut butter powder, or use almond, cashew, or sunflower butter. You can play with the flavors too, and if you don’t have lime, use a splash of rice vinegar. If you don’t have agave on hand, use a little sugar. You get the point. This is a simple sauce that you can customize according to what you have on hand (or don’t have on hand), just like the bowls. But you can also sub in another sauce too. I make these same bowls with a coconut curry sauce too. The sky is the limit here!
For the rest of the bowl components, I really like the punch of some fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, etc…) and also the crunch off toasted nuts (like the awesome roasted diced hazelnuts from one of my favorite local companies Freddy Guys), or toasted sunflower seeds, dry roasted peanuts, almonds, etc… The crunch is up to you, but it really adds a nice element to the bowl.
And as for the peanut sauce, the best part is how easy it is to make. The secret to it (or not so secret now), is peanut butter powder. If you’re not familiar with it, they remove most of the fat from ground peanuts (I’m assuming to make peanut oil), and what’s left is this fab flour. It’s low in fat, high in protein, and mixes together in a flash. No hard whisking needed!
The peanut butter powder I used for the recipe is one I found at Costco, called PBfit. I also found it on Amazon here. It’s organic and lightly sweetened with coconut palm sugar. It really makes an incredible peanut sauce that is so much lower in fat than regular peanut sauce. I would imagine that other brands of peanut butter powder will work well too. Just make sure it doesn’t contain chocolate or other ingredients besides peanuts, coconut palm sugar and salt.
This recipe also calls for fresh lime zest and juice, and as much as I’m all for swapping ingredients when you don’t have them on hand, I highly recommend getting yourself a lime to make this. The fresh zest sends it over the top in flavor. It’s so good, and creamy, zesty, a little spicy and a touch sweet. That bowl you see in the photo? That was our dinner last night. It was so good with diced firm organic tofu that was sprinkled with sesame seeds, rice, carrots and steamed broccoli.
Now go make yourself a bowl! I’d love to hear about the bowls you put together. Tag me on Instagram @julieskitchenette.
This easy peanut sauce is fantastic on rice bowls!
1/4 cup peanut butter powder
1 1/2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 tablespoon GF soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon sriracha
1 clove garlic
1/2 lime, zest and juice
freshly ground black pepper, optional, to taste
In a bowl, combine the peanut butter powder, agave, soy sauce, sesame oil, water, Sriracha, garlic, zest and juice of half a lime and a few grinds of black pepper. Whisk together until smooth. Serve right away or refrigerate until ready to use.
This recipe can be doubled or tripled.
Gluten-Free + Vegan