Here’s How to Build a Better Buddha Bowl

The Buddha Bowl is the most Zen of all grain bowls, an all-in-one meal that feeds all of the senses. It’s healthy, but not in a boring, bland way that were the standard for the original utilitarian creations. The evolved Buddha Bowl is still vegetarian (though nobody’s going to call the food police if you add meat or fish to the mix), an artistic endeavor on a canvas of whole grains. Veggies, lean protein like tofu and nuts are beautifully arranged, a tangy dressing drizzled on each masterpiece. Here’s some inspiration and a step-by-step blueprint for the endless ways to make a Buddha Bowl worthy of the Instagram Food Hall of Fame. (Which doesn’t exist, but it should.) Prep and gather all the ingredients before assembling your Buddha Bowl.

Buddha Bowl infographic

Illustration by Julian Birchman

1) Explore Those Ancient Grains

Steamed brown or white rice are fine and dandy, but also consider making the foundation for your creation with quinoa, farro, freekeh, kamut, millet, sorghum or amaranth. Use one or a combo of a couple of them.

2) Go for Protein Power

Keep it lean with any kind of cooked bean (garbanzos, kidney, pinto, Great Northern) or legumes such as curried lentils and add half a hard-cooked egg, spicy baked tofu or tempeh. Go easy on portion size. There’s more stuff to come. Season this element with a little salt and pepper.

3) Add Crunch

Raw vegetables including cucumbers, tomatoes, green onions, sliced bell peppers, shaved cabbage, shredded carrots, spinach and arugula add color and crunch. Roasted beets, sauteed mushrooms, roasted cauliflower and steamed broccoli can make your bowl feel more substantial. Again, don’t go overboard. Use a few raw and maybe one cooked veg for contrasting textures.

4) Dress it Up

Citrusy Tahini Dressing is the classic way to splash some bright flavor across your creation, but it’s absolutely acceptable to use your favorite vinaigrette or a experiment with Chili Lime Vinaigrette.

5) The Big Finish

Once the Bowl is built and dressed, it’s ready for a final flourish: Some crumbled cheese, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, micro greens, chopped peanuts, cashews, pistachios, pecans, sesame seeds, maybe some flax seeds. Go for one or two, but don’t overload. The goal is to be able to admire all the components. Looks pretty ommmm-nommm, right?

Buddha Bowls are a cook's artistic creation

Photo by Meredith

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