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.