I’ve been on a major grain bowl kick lately — they’re the perfect solution for those nights when we want to eat clean, but a salad just isn’t gonna cut it. Plus there’s no more delicious way to clear your fridge of those random leftover grains and roasted veggies! Recently while prepping the various components for a grain bowl dinner, the thought struck me that this would be the perfect meal to invite friends to share — both the making and eating of — and my rainbow grain bowl potluck party concept was born.
Below I’m sharing my mix-and-match grain bowl formula that can be customized with your favorite ingredients. Get friends involved in the fun by asking everyone to pick one or two of these categories to share at the potluck.
One of the best things about this party concept is that everything can be prepped completely ahead of time and hang out on the counter until everyone’s ready to eat.
The grain: A bowl of herb-flecked freekeh is my grain of the moment — it’s chewy, nutty, and packed with plant-based protein. You could easily substitute quinoa, couscous, or rice.
The raw veg: The secret to a great grain bowl is a combination of fresh, crunchy vegetables with richer cooked ones. Here I used peppery radishes and vibrant purple cabbage sliced on a mandoline.
The orange veg: This butternut squash was coated in olive oil, salt and pepper before roasting and tossed with sesame seeds. Other options? Carrots, sweet potatoes, acorn, or delicata squash would be perfect-o.
The protein: I wanted to keep these bowls vegetarian and am currently obsessed with this maple-tamari tofu. Sliced chicken or steak, or a grilled salmon fillet would also be delish and make meat eaters happy.
The greens: A handful of peppery arugula is always a good idea. Other options? Chopped spinach, massaged kale, or shredded romaine.
The dressing: I’ve used loads of different dressings on my rainbow bowls, from a Mexican-inflected cilantro sauce to a simple oil and citrus vinaigrette. I think you’re going to love this spicy harissa version.
The beauty of these bowls is that there’s really no magic recipe needed. As long as there’s enough variety to provide a range of textures and flavors, you’ve got everything you’ll need to build a really delicious meal — and no two bowls will be exactly alike.
Finish these off with a few toppings — chopped cilantro, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, lime juice, and an extra drizzle of dressing — for a total feast for the senses.
- 1/2 cup cracked freekeh
- 4 cups chopped lettuces (arugula, spinach, kale, etc)
- 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
- 2 cups cubed & roasted butternut squash
- 2 avocados, sliced
- a few radishes, sliced on mandoline or very thinly with a knife
- 2 cups purple cabbage, sliced on mandoline or very thinly with knife
- for garnish: chopped cilantro, sesame seeds, aleppo pepper, flaky salt, lime wedges
For maple-tamari tofu
- 1 block extra-firm tofu
- 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
For maple-harissa dressing:
- 1/2 shallot, minced
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons harissa
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- salt & pepper
- Press tofu: Cut tofu in 1/2" thick slices, then place between a clean towel and weight down with something heavy, like a few cookbooks. Let sit for 30 minutes to release excess water, then remove and dry.
- Meanwhile, make freekeh: In a saucepan combine freekeh, 1 1/2 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until all the water has been absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit covered for at least 5 minutes. (Sometimes, I cook with a minced garlic clove, then add a handful of chopped herbs at the end for added flavor.)
- Cook tofu: Cut each slice in half crosswise to make thin squares, then heat a sauté pan over high heat. Add tofu in an even layer, and use a spatula to press down very firmly.
- Combine tamari and maple syrup, then pour over the tofu in the pan. Use spatula to press tofu down again, then let cook for a minute, flip, and let cook for a minute or two more until golden brown and caramelized on each side.
- Make the dressing: combine everything in a jar, and shake!
- In each person's bowl, add a handful of arugula, a scoop of grains, then let everyone add whatever other toppings they like. Drizzle with maple-harissa dressing, then top with garnishes of your choice. Eat!