Recently I talked about pre-cooking grains and legumes to have on hand for a variety of meal preparations. I’ve been using my stash from that prep session in what I like to call goodness bowls. There’s something about a whole meal contained in a bowl that’s just so satisfying. I tend to make such meals when I’m craving something especially nutritious (and, of course, delicious), so these really are bowls full of goodness.
Meals like this have the added virtue of being quick and easy to toss together, especially if you have any leftovers on hand just begging to be used up.
About the bowls in these photos: I bought large bowls about four inches deep for better photography purposes as it’s easier to see all the components of the dish. I’ve also served goodness bowl meals in narrower, deeper bowls. They change the eating experience somewhat, as there’s more digging to bring everything together. But in either case, as I said above, the bowl itself is part of the experience of such a meal.
So far, I’ve made three different goodness bowl versions. For the first, I combined a serving (for me that’s one cup) of the mixed grains and legumes, with mixed greens, and fresh fennel cut into dainty batons and dressed lightly with olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Finely sliced red cabbage treated the same as the fennel and allowed to marinate until softened added a pop of colour, not to mention assertive flavour. For extra protein and pizzazz, I quickly sautéed cubes of poached chicken breast (another great item to have on hand in the freezer) in a bit of olive oil, glazed them with pomegranate molasses and added salt and pepper for seasoning (minced garlic and or red chili pepper adds extra layers of tastiness). Everything was dressed with this recipe for Garlic-Ginger Pumpkin Seed Sauce (with the garlic toned down a bit) from the blog My New Roots (the author, Sarah Britton, calls her bowls abundance bowls, and the first one I ever made was the one in the linked post). A final sprinkling of toasted, lightly salted pumpkin seeds added flair and extra crunch.
This was such a satisfying meal: it offered a variety of flavours, textures and colours, the satisfying goodness of the grains and legumes, and the piquant sauce unified all the disparate elements. As an added bonus, there’s something about knowing a meal is healthful that makes it all the more enjoyable.
The second goodness bowl I made was the most visually striking. To my dismay, the photo was lost due to technical difficulties, as they say. But just imagine the bowl above with grains, greens, the bright pop of red cabbage and pale creaminess of fennel. And, as if that all weren’t enough, oven-roasted asparagus with lemon was nestled on one side and a piece of roasted salmon with a pomegranate molasses glaze was the crowning touch. Once again, the pumpkin seed sauce brought the whole dish together.
Just a note: the combination of grains and legumes provides a complete protein, and it’s not necessary to add additional proteins like chicken or fish to a goodness bowl. If I were going vegetarian or vegan, I would just increase the serving of grains and legumes.
The final goodness bowl I’m sharing here is one that I had for breakfast. This one started with a bed of mixed greens, a serving of the pre-cooked grains and legumes, and the leftover asparagus, gently rewarmed. A jaunty sunny-side-up egg was the final touch. Along with the pumpkin seed sauce, that runny yolk added creaminess to the dish.
So there you go: a few ideas for using your pre-cooked grains and legumes. Really, the possibilities are endless!