Grain Bowl with Gingery Pickled Carrots and Cilantro-Scallion Vinaigrette
Do you constantly fill your vegetable crisper beyond its capacity? Do you keep an unnecessary variety of heirloom grains (beans, seeds, etc.) in your pantry? Do the words “grain bowl” get your motor running? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this post is for you. If not … well, you may not be my target audience. But that’s okay, I’m happy you’re still reading.
With dishes like bibimbap hitting the mainstream and Buddha bowls all over Pinterest, it’s kind of hard to resist the whole meal-in-a-bowl movement. And you shouldn’t resist – this concept could very well change the way you eat, and definitely for the better. When your veggies, your grains, and your protein all come together with some gloriously flavorful dressing, magic happens. You’re layering colors, flavors, and textures in such a way that ordinary ingredients become extraordinary. Tangy and crispy. Toasted and sweet. Every bite has a unique flavor profile. Not to mention the fact that grain bowls are beautiful to look at and fun to eat.
If you look at this fancy bowl of goodness and think, “that’s too difficult for me”, you’re wrong. There may be a lot of steps, but the steps are easy. Also, it makes you look like a genius. I can’t stop making them. I’m putting everything into bowls over here.
A note on the pickled carrots: a quick pickle does take some forethought. The process is simple, but the longer you let the carrots pickle, the more flavor you’re going to get. So do try to make it at least an hour ahead. Also, this recipe makes more than is needed for the grain bowl. You’re going to want those extra carrots! Enjoy them over avocado toast, or add them to tacos and blow your own mind. Trust me.
Why is it good for you?
Cabbage provides a wealth of different vitamins and minerals. High levels of folate will help expecting mothers ward off birth defects, while ample vitamin K bolsters bone health. And as a high-fiber, low-calorie food, cabbage is awesome for weight management. Also, red cabbage in particular is packed full of antioxidants.
Like cabbage, sugar snap peas are notably high in antioxidant vitamin C and fiber. The ample fiber in this bowl will help stabilize your blood sugar and cholesterol, as well as keep you regular and full!
- 1/2 brick extra firm tofu
- 1 Tbsp. salt
- 2 cups sugar snap peas
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
- 1 Tbsp. avocado oil (or other high-heat cooking oil)
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 2 Tbsp. chopped peanuts
- tamari or soy sauce
- Cilantro-Scallion Vinaigrette (below)
- Gingery Pickled Carrots (below)
- Optional additional garnishes: sesame seeds, asian hot sauce (such as Sambal Oelek), sliced scallions, cilantro leaves
- 1.5 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 1 Tbsp. pickling liquid from Gingery Pickled Carrots
- 1/2 tsp coarse brown mustard
- 1/4 tsp brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 small scallions, minced
- 1/3 cup cilantro, minced
- 1 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1.5 Tbsp. water
- 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1.5 tsp kosher salt
- 1" piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
- 5 medium carrots, unpeeled, washed
- Drain tofu and wrap in a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. Place a heavy pan over the top to apply pressure. Set aside.*
- Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
- Fill a large pot with water, stir in 1 Tbsp. salt**, and bring to a boil.
- Working in two batches, add sugar snap peas to the boiling water and blanch 1 minute. Remove from pot and immediately plunge into ice water bath.
- When peas are cool, drain and spread on a towel to dry. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil and sesame oil over medium heat.
- Add cabbage to the hot pan and season lightly with salt. Cook, stirring often, 3-5 minutes until crisp-tender. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Wipe out pan and return to heat.
- Add avocado oil and increase heat to medium-high.
- Unwrap tofu and slice in 1/2 inch strips. Season lightly with salt and pepper and toss.
- Add tofu to the hot pan and fry, undisturbed, for 2 minutes, or until browned and crispy. Flip and repeat on the other side. Remove from pan.
- To assemble bowls:
- Divide quinoa, peas, cabbage and tofu into two wide, shallow bowls. Garnish with pickled carrots (to taste) and peanuts. Drizzle vinaigrette over each bowl (I used 2 Tbsp. per bowl) and tamari to taste. Add optional garnishes as desired. Enjoy!
- Combine lime juice, pickling liquid, mustard, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and whisk to dissolve salt and sugar.
- Whisk in oil, scallions and cilantro until just combined.
- In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, water, brown sugar, salt, and ginger slices over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and stir to dissolve the salt & sugar.
- Remove pan from heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Using a vegetable peeler or mandolin, peel carrots lengthwise into thin strips. Be careful with this step! You won't be able to peel the whole carrot - use what you can, and save the rest for another use.
- Place the carrots in a heat-proof bowl and pour the pickling liquid over them. Allow to cool completely, then refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
*Wrap tofu up to an hour before cooking for drier, crispier tofu. **Salting the blanching water is an important step. The salt prevents the water-soluble nutrients in the vegetable from leaching into the water.
Cilantro-Scallion Vinaigrette inspired by Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette by Julie Blanner.