We’ve passed the Winter Solstice, cleared the big winter holiday season, and after weeks of celebration, we couldn’t be more ready for a season of hibernation, a time of year when we tend to eat healthy, yet hearty. Green and Grain (and/or Legume) Bowls perfectly exemplify the kinds of foods we want to be eating.
We may look online for inspiration, but when assembling Green and Grain (and/or Legume) Bowls, we don’t follow recipes. Instead, our weekly strategy is to make a few Essentials and Bases, keep on hand seasonal fruits and vegetables, and loosely use the following guide to help us create healthy, filling, and deeply delicious bowls.
We start our bowls out with equal parts cooked greens, grains (and/or legumes), and vegetables. Once we’ve got those three, we decide what else to add to take it to the next level. If we use beans, we often skip the dried fruit. If we have pita chips, we swap those in for nuts and seeds. The beauty of bowls is, you really cannot mess this up.
The “Recipe” for a Green & Grain Bowl would look something like this:
1 cup cooked greens (or 2 cups massaged kale)
1 cup grains
1 cup roasted vegetables
2 tablespoons nuts/seeds
2 tablespoons dried fruit
Dressing to taste
1) Hearty Winter Greens
Cooked or Not. For our summer salads we tend to stick with mix of lettuces, including a little Massaged Kale. In the winter, however, it would not be unusual for us to grab a handful of straight Massaged Kale as a base for one of our hearty winter salads. If we have time or an inclination, we might toss in other green- and purple-hued ingredients like shredded green or purple cabbage or chopped bitter salad candidates like radicchio, endive, or escarole.
It would also not be unusual this time of year to have Shallow-Cooked Winter Greens like kale, turnip or mustard greens, collards, or broccoli rabe in our fridge. Much like massaging kale, shallowing cooking winter greens dramatically reduces their bulk, making them much easier to store and use. Once you bring a couple of quarts of salted water to boil, dump the bagged greens—stems and all—into the boiling water and cook for seven minutes. Drain, cool under running water, and squeeze them lightly to dry. Give them a rough chop and store them in the fridge until they’re ready to use.
2) Your Favorite Grains and/or Beans
You can use drained, canned beans and/or pre-cooked grains from the grocery store, which we often do, but it’s easy (and thrifty!) to make them yourself. We offer super simple methods for cooking A Pot of White Beans (which works for all small and medium-sized dried beans), Perfect Pot of Rice, Soak & Cook Lentils, and Quick Quinoa.
These beans and grains offer that healthy, yet hearty substance we crave, and quinoa (or a blend of beans and grains) offers the perfect protein we need.
3) Seasonal Cooked and/or Roasted Vegetables
Adding roasted fall/winter vegetables to our salads adds instant color, interest, and healthy notes to our salads. Turnips, sweet potatoes, winter squash, carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, golden beets, rhutabagas, and onions of all kinds are good fall and winter roasting candidates. Roast up a pan of mixed fall and winter vegetables early in the week and enjoy opening the refrigerator and finding just what you’re looking to make a quick, colorful salad.
4) Seasonal Fruits and/or Dried Fruits
Apples, pears, grapes, citrus, and other winter fruits also add color and nutrients to fall and winter Green and Grain (and/or Legume) Bowls. Also keep in mind that most winter vegetables pair nicely with dried fruit, so always consider adding a handful of dried cranberries, cherries, raisins, chopped apricots, figs, dates and other dried fruit to round out your Green and Grain (and/or Legume) Bowls.
5) A Little Crunch
Roasted nuts are always a good way to add crunch and flavor to Green and Grain (and/or Legume) Bowls. If we’ve made them ahead, Roasted Smoky Pepitas are always our first choice to sprinkle over salads, but nearly any roasted nut will work. Walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, and cashews are some of our other favorites. Our Quick Pickled Pink Onions is another way to add stunning color and crunch without calories, and we almost always have a bag of pita chips in the pantry. We frequently grab a handful and crunch them directly onto our salads.
6) Delicious Dressing
We offer many Planetarian Life dressings, vinaigrettes, and pesto recipes for drizzling over our Green and Grain (and/or Legume) Bowls. But, these salads are flavorful enough that a light glug of olive oil, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, followed by a quick toss, and a vinegar drizzle—balsamic is a good choice for those sweet root vegetables—is all you really need.