First off, I know that post title is a bit of a mouthful. And that’s the pared down version! I also wanted to tell you right off the bat about the peppery watermelon radishes, crunchy, pink pickled onions, tender kale and nutty pepitas. Suffice it to say this grain bowl is bursting with flavors, colors and textures and is my new favorite make-ahead (and eat for days in a row because I’m hooked) meal. We’ve been stuck in a dinner rut for a while now and seem to make the same basic pastas, soups and pizzas week after week, and those old standbys have been tasting…blah. I’ve had very little appetite the whole time I’ve been pregnant (weird, huh) so the biggest motivator behind this grain bowl was making something really healthy and super flavorful, so even when I’m not that hungry I’m excited to eat it. And it worked! This is the first meal I’ve eaten in a couple weeks that I haven’t forced down half of, then passed off on Ponny, my dutiful husband/human composter. I’ve even gone back for seconds.
Let me tell you why. First, the corn salad – my inauthentic yet addictive version of esquites – is incredibly creamy yet fresh tasting, with a little bit of char on the corn and a sprinkle of cilantro and red onion. The chickpeas are wonderfully crunchy and flavorful thanks to a dash of cumin and cayenne. I love pickled red onions on anything and everything. Who wouldn’t!? And then the dressing. At first the cilantro is really bright and in your face and then, magically, it mellows out to a creamy, nuttiness with a subtle kick of garlic. It ties the whole thing together and I’m tempted to put it on every sandwich, bowl, pizza and sundae I make from now on. I cooked the brown rice in vegetable stock, so even the base of this bowl is extra savory.
This grain bowl is nourishing, refreshing, filling but not heavy and makes for great leftovers. I think that checks all the bowl boxes! The recipe looks long, but that’s just because there are several toppings to prep and it’s all pretty quick and easy. Feel free to double or triple the recipe for extra easy dinners and tasty desk lunches throughout the week. I hope you enjoy it!
- 1 cup uncooked brown rice
- vegetable stock
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 rounded tsp salt
- 1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained
- 1/2 tsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup fresh corn, removed from cob (1-2 cobs)
- 1 Tbsp canola oil
- 2 tsp vegan mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp red onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
- 1 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 Tbsp pepitas
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp garlic (1-2 cloves)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 avocado, sliced
- 4 stems kale, leaves removed
- 1 watermelon radish, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp feta cheese, crumbled
- 2 Tbsp pepitas
- Cook the rice according to the package directions. While rice is cooking, prepare the toppings.
- Combine the water, vinegar, sugar and salt. Stir until dissolved. Add the onions to a mason jar or covered bowl and cover with the vinegar mixture. Refrigerate overnight, or at least 3-4 hours.
- Preheat oven to 325º F. Pat drained chickpeas dry. Toss with the oil and seasonings. Spread in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the corn to the skillet and stir to coat in oil, then spread in a single layer and leave for 3-4 minutes or until you hear popping. The corn should have a bit of char. Stir again to char the other sides. Repeat a few times, then remove from heat and toss with the remaining ingredients.
- Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth.
- Steam the kale for 4-5 minutes until tender. Season to taste (I added a very small pinch of salt).
- Divide the cooked rice between two bowls and add toppings as desired.
Everything can be made in advance but the chickpeas; they won't stay crunchy overnight.