A healthy, tasty meal-in-a-bowl!
When I tasted my first rice bowl years ago, I was instantly smitten by the dish – a soup plate heaped with napa cabbage, tofu, brown rice, greens and a heavenly peanut sauce. Rice bowls are tasty, nutritious and satisfying, plus the format lends itself to innumerable interpretations. Note that while this recipe appears long, it’s actually very easy and several steps can be done ahead of time: toast the rice, make the peanut sauce and prepare the vegetables. You can even precook, refrigerate and reheat the rice if you want to speed up the process at meal time.
For the brown rice:
- 1 cup (250 mL) brown rice (I used long grain)
- 2 cups (500 mL) water
For the peanut sauce:
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) soy sauce (or tamari if you want a gluten-free dish)
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) sriracha (or more, to taste)
- 1/3 cup (90 mL) water
For the chicken:
- 2 cups (500 mL) cubed chicken breast or thigh meat*
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) powdered ginger
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
*Note: you can omit the chicken, or substitute it with tofu, if desired.
For the bowl:
- 4 cups (1 L) baby spinach or mixed tender greens
- 2 cups (500 mL) sliced Napa (Chinese) cabbage (or regular green cabbage)
- 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) finely sliced green onion tops
- 1 lime, quartered
- Prepare brown rice. Preheat oven to 325F and pour rice onto a cookie sheet. Roast in oven for 15 minutes until starting to turn golden brown and you can detect a nutty aroma. Roasting will make the rice cook up fluffier and more tender.
- Add the toasted rice and water to a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 – 40 minutes until all water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork.
- Prepare dressing by combining all ingredients and whisking vigorously until it has a smooth consistency. You want to be able to drizzle it on your dish, so add a little more water if needed to thin it just a little. Taste and adjust seasoning if you would like it sweeter or spicier.
- Prepare chicken (or tofu). Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.
- Mix cornstarch and ginger in a medium sized plastic bag; add chicken and shake to coat. Put chicken cubes in hot oil and cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is thoroughly cooked (8 – 10 minutes).
- Cover pan and reduce heat to minimum to keep chicken warm while you prepare the rice bowls.
- Assemble bowls. Take four broad, shallow bowls and line each with spinach or greens.
- Put a generous heap of hot, cooked brown rice in the middle of each bowl. Scatter 1/2 cup cabbage on top of rice in each bowl. Sprinkle grated carrot on top. Place cooked chicken (if using) around perimeter of bowls. Drizzle a generous amount of peanut sauce over rice and vegetables.
- Garnish each with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of sliced green onion and a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice then serve.
Serves 4 (or 2, with awesome leftovers)