It’s those times when I really cbf going to the shops that my culinary creativity flourishes. Why? When faced with limited ingredients and a hungry housemate, I need to find a solution … and an edible one at that. It’s not always easy but after years of midweek mush, I’ve learnt a game that’ll pretty much guarantee a delicious dinner: build-a-bowl.
Here’s how it works:
While it may seem counterintuitive, I like to start with the dressing. It’ll guarantee flavour and set the tone for the bowl. Plus, most people have condiments, herbs and spices on hand. Feeling Asian? Try chilli, soy and ginger or miso and sesame oil. Want something smooth? Go tahini and lemon.
Next, choose your base. Check the pantry for your staples like brown rice, quinoa or noodles. Pair it with veggies that will marry well and don’t forget what’s hiding in the freezer—peas are always a good choice. Finally, pick your protein—I often end up with poached or boiled eggs—and top it with a little crunch like pumpkin seeds or crushed nuts.
It’s a foolproof system and apparently, I’m not the only one who uses it. Dr Libby Weaver is a bowl believer, too.
“I’m a big fan of deconstructed bowls, mainly because they save time!” says Dr Libby. Below, she shares one of her favourites: vegetarian sushi bowls. “Here you get all the flavours and nutritional benefits of sushi without the fuss of rolling it. The ginger cream is delicious – it’s a great addition to other meals, too.”
1 cup (220 g) medium-grain brown rice
3 cups (750 ml) water
1 tablespoon tamari
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
1 avocado, thinly sliced
1 Lebanese cucumber, thinly sliced
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 cup (120 g) frozen edamame beans, thawed
2 sheets nori
1⁄2 cup (75 g) red cabbage sauerkraut or kimchi
1⁄2 teaspoon sesame oil
2⁄3 cup (100 g) raw cashews
1⁄4 teaspoon fresh horseradish
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1⁄2 cup (125 ml) water
To make the ginger cream, place the cashews in a bowl, cover with cold water and leave to soak overnight. The next morning, rinse and drain well. Place the cashews into a small food processor with the remaining ingredients and process until smooth and creamy.
Place the rice and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil over high heat and boil for 20 minutes or until tunnels form in the rice and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook gently for 5 minutes or until the rice is soft and there is no liquid left in the pan. Remove from the heat, stir in the tamari and set aside to rest while you prepare the toppings.
Whisk together the egg and sesame seeds. Melt the coconut oil in a 26 cm non-stick frying pan over medium heat, add the egg mixture and cook, stirring gently, until the egg is just beginning to set, then use a spatula to push the set edge into the middle of the pan. Continue until all the egg is just set. Flip over and cook until set (this should take about 3 minutes all up), then remove from the pan and slice.
Divide the rice among four serving bowls and arrange the avocado, cucumber, carrot, edamame, nori and sesame omelette on top. Add the sauerkraut or kimchi, then drizzle over the sesame oil. Serve with the ginger cream.