I discovered rice bowls just a few months ago at Washington State’s first certified organic restaurant, Chaco Canyon Organic Café in Seattle. I was instantly smitten when my lunch arrived – a soup plate heaped with napa cabbage, tofu, brown rice, greens and a heavenly peanut sauce. I’ve since learned that the meal-in-one-dish rice bowl is a staple at many vegetarian and vegan restaurants, and for good reason. It’s tasty, nutritious and satisfying, plus the format lends itself to innumerable interpretations. Here is my first attempt at creating a rice bowl meal for my family. I would have loved to include stir- fried tofu, but that’s a stretch for some diners at my house, so I incorporated chicken along with the rice, veggies and sauce. Note that while the 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.
- 1 cup brown rice (I used long grain)
- 2 cups water
- Preheat oven to 325F. Pour the rice onto a cookie sheet and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, until it is just starting to turn a golden brown colour and you can smell it becoming fragrant.
- Roasting not only enhances brown rice’s natural nutty flavour, it also enables our bodies to better process its many nutrients and produces a lighter, fluffier rice once cooked.
- Add the toasted rice and water to a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil, then turn heat down so rice is barely simmering.
- Cook 30 – 40 minutes until all water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Fluff with a fork.
- ¼ cup chunky peanut butter *
- 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce (or tamari if you want a gluten-free dish)
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- ½ teaspoon sriracha (Asian hot sauce) or to taste
- 1/3 cup water
* if you only have creamy peanut butter on hand, add ¼ cup chopped unsalted peanuts to give your sauce some texture
- Combine all ingredients and whisk 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.
- 2 cups cubed chicken *
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp dried ginger
- 2 tbsp olive oil
* note you can omit the chicken, or substitute it with tofu, if desired.
- 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).
- Reduce heat to minimum to keep chicken warm while you prepare the rice bowls.
- 4 cups baby spinach or mixed tender greens
- 2 cups sliced Napa (Chinese) cabbage
- 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
- ¼ cup finely sliced green onion tops
- 1 lime, quartered
- 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 ½ 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 with 1 tbsp of sliced green onion and a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice.
Serves 4 (or two, with awesome leftovers for lunch!)