It is so cold and blustery here in NYC this month that all I can think about is eating hearty stick-to-your-rib foods that taste like they’ve spent all day on the stove. Unfortunately, between helping to get this new store up and rolling, doing recipe development, and being a wife and mother, there is no time for a dish that takes hours. The key here is to coordinate grilling the vegetables and cooking the eggs while the grains are simmering. This can all be done in 30 minutes!
To get the chill out of my bones, I decided I would make a grain bowl. I love grain bowls because they can always be made with seasonal ingredients and can be instantly modified to include whatever is in the fridge. Plus, they look fabulous and are pretty filling. They also lend themselves to any kind of protein, from meat to vegan options like tempeh, and can be eaten at any temperature. It’s an all-purpose year-round kind of meal. The one trick to a great grain bowl is that they work best with grains that cook at approximately the same time. The easiest preparation is toasting the grains altogether in a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, adding a bit of seasoning, and then covering with stock or water to simmer.
Then, you just top with grilled or roasted seasoned vegetables and your desired protein. Last night I found quinoa and freekeh in my pantry (yes, I am a Sahadi!) as well as an assortment of vegetables in my crisper. Fortunately, I had these beautiful local free-range eggs on the fridge shelf. The process was so easy and so quick but turned into a really fabulous meal. The eggs should go into the water cold and then be brought to a boil. Then, lower the heat and simmer for exactly 6 minutes for large eggs. That will result in a soft cook with a jammy center. Beautiful!! If you have an extra 5 minutes and some Greek yogurt and herbs, you can stir that together with a bit of fresh lemon juice for a quick sauce to top this dish.
If it was just my husband and I at home, I would probably top the bowl with a piece of grilled salmon if we wanted a heartier meal. When both of my children were living with us, I would often top each with their protein of choice: chicken, lamb sausages or salmon. It was the perfect dish to get rid of the chill of the long day. Now if I could just get the weather to cooperate, I would put springtime asparagus and ramps on top. Maybe with poached shrimp and a lemon dill sauce? Here’s to the dream of warmer weather!
Hearty Grain Bowls (serves 4)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + 2 tbsp separate
2 c mixed grains with similar cooking times (quinoa and freekeh in this recipe)
1 tbsp Greek seasoning or replace with Italian seasoning and 1 tsp salt
4 c chicken or vegetable stock
4 c raw sliced vegetables (I used whole baby peppers, red onion, zucchini and mushrooms)
4 eggs, cooked 6 minutes as noted above, or another protein as desired
Herbs and/or yogurt sauce
Heat 2 tbsp oil until just shimmering. Add 1 tbsp seasoning and toast for 1 minute. Add quinoa and freekeh and coat well with oil. Sauté until just beginning to smell toasted and all grains are coated. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Then lower heat and cook covered for 15 – 20 minutes or until just absorbed. Take off the heat and put on the back burner to keep warm. In the meantime, mix raw vegetables with remaining olive oil and seasoning and grill or roast in oven for 5-10 minutes each side until browned and tender. After cooking eggs, shock in cold water to stop cooking process and peel. Cut lengthwise. Place grain mixture into 4 bowls. Arrange vegetables on top and place egg alongside. If using, drizzle with sauce and garnish with fresh herbs. Enjoy! Leftovers taste great at room temperature the next day.