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  • The Chopping Blog

Build a Better Grain Bowl

Lisa C
Posted by Lisa C on Nov 3, 2020

There is nothing I like to eat more than an all-in-one, quick, delicious “bowl” for lunch or dinner. The possibilities are endless when it come to flavor profiles, textures, and what you can mix in. They can be enjoyed cold, room temperature or even warmed.

I have a few basic bullet points that I want to share with you on how I craft my perfect bowl. These are the top 8 things I consider when constructing just about any salad, grain bowl, or all in one meal:

  • Base – any grain, rice, legume, or pasta
  • Vegetables – all are welcome, they can be roasted, sauteed, or just kept raw
  • Greens – yes, these are vegetables but are a necessary addition for a vibrant dish
  • Sweet – dried fruit, fresh fruit, honey in a vinaigrette
  • Textures – nuts and seeds, toasted for maximum flavor
  • Acid/Fat – citrus, vinegars, oils, dairy can be a great way to dress up the grain bowl
  • Seasoning – herbs, spices, and spicy elements added during the cooking process will create depth of flavor
  • Protein – meat, fish, beans, can be cooked and served along side or cut up and mixed in to the grain bowl

grain bowl deconstructed-1

The bowl pictured above has just about all of the points I mentioned except for the protein. That is where Hooked on Fish comes in! If you haven’t heard about Hooked on Fish before, we have been working with them for a number years as a pick up point in the city for sustainably sourced fish. You can choose your fish on their website and pick up every Tuesday at The Chopping Block Lincoln Square location at 4747 N. Lincoln between 4-5pm. Click here for more information.

hooked on fish

fish plated with grain bowl

This farro bowl includes seared halibut from Hooked on Fish. 

grain bowl

Another grain bowl I created was quinoa, with shaved Brussels sprouts, toasted walnuts, thyme roasted butternut squash, dried cranberries that I soaked in apple cider vinegar and finished with fresh thyme and olive oil.

grain bowl with fish

I paired this grain bowl with Alaskan Sockeye Salmon, and I crisped up the skin.

I love making bowls with a Fregola base. If you are not familiar with fregola it is actually a pasta but it is made from a semolina dough that is toasted in the oven hence the darker colors and the flavor is a bit nuttier than other pastas. The cooking process is the same as pasta though where you boil it in water until it is cooked through.

fregola pasta

When building this bowl, I started with sliced red onions and white beans soaking in fresh squeezed lemon juice, oregano, salt and pepper. This allowed the onions to mellow out a bit and the white beans to absorb the flavors and create a creamy sauce.

onions and beans

I then added Pomodoraccio tomatoes, chopped spinach, and oven roasted garlic.

tomatoes spinach

We have weekly cooking challenges in our TCB private Facebook group, and this week is cooking a dish with grains. I would love to see pictures and hear about how you build a better bowl in your kitchen. Maybe you all will inspire me with your flavor combinations and creations, and I will offer one of them for curbside pickup! If you don’t feel like making your own bowl, then feel free to order one of mine. I would be happy to make your lives a little less stressful during this demanding time.

Grains Challenge

See our class calendar


Topics: grains, side dish, hooked on fish, grain, bowl

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