This Buddha bowl starts with a base of ancient grains and gets topped with tofu, sweet potatoes, miso sauce and cilantro pesto for a healthy vegetarian meal!
Have you ever had a dish in a restaurant that you just loved and wished you could have at home? One of my favorite things to do is recreate recipes that I have in restaurants. It’s a fun way to get an understanding of the way chefs use different ingredients together. It’s also a great opportunity to talk to the chef and/or waitstaff about the dish. While they generally won’t give you the recipe (and I probably wouldn’t ask anyway) many chefs are very happy to talk about what goes into a dish.
This vegetarian buddha bowl is inspired by a dish I had at True Food Kitchen in Chicago. It’s right next door to one of the studios where I workout and since they have lots of very healthy as well as vegan options it’s a good choice when I’m with friends who have various dietary preferences. True Food’s menu is seasonal and designed to inspire a healthy lifestyle, so depending on when you visit you’ll have a number of different options to choose from to get the freshest taste of the season.
You’ve probably seen buddha bowls all over the internet and Instagram. I’ve been working on this colorful bowl for a while now and thought it was time to finally share it. While it has quite a few components, this recipe is fairly easy to make and doesn’t really take too much hands-on time. You can also easily double it if you want to have lots of leftovers.
So, what goes in a Buddha or Grain bowl?
A buddha bowl is really just a grain-based bowl that combines healthy ingredients. Many are vegan though they have evolved into a way to get your grains, veggies and protein all in one easy, delicious dish with a little taste of everything!
A bowl starts with a base of healthy, cooked grains. This particular bowl uses farro as it’s base but you could use quinoa, bulgur, barley or a combination if you like.
I decided to use tofu in this particular bowl to make it vegetarian, however you could use chicken, shrimp or other seafood. Just be sure it’s a lean protein to keep your bowl healthy.
Since the idea is to get a big serving of veggies, I used two separate veggies – mushrooms and sweet potatoes. You could also add a green such as kale if you want to include some leafy veggies.
To give the bowl some extra flavor and fun you want to add a few more toppings or extras. For this bowl, it’s a combo of miso-based sauce, cilantro pesto, some caramelized onions and a turmeric-tahini sauce. YUM!
This bowl is a great vegetarian dish that works for lunch or dinner. When I’m creating or re-creating a unique recipe I try to on using ingredients that will result in a fabulous flavor profile but that you can actually find in our average grocery store. This dish will have you looking for other ways to use the tahini sauce and cilantro pesto – check back soon I’m pretty sure I’ve got a few recipes up my sleeve that will fit the bill!
additional notes from the kitchen
- Since sweet potatoes absorb a lot of liquid when roasting them you want to add the miso sauce after they are done cooking to get an extra punch of flavor.
- I typically don’t toss this type of bowl as it’s fun to vary what goes into each bit. By keeping the components separate you create a super pretty dish and can mix and match as you eat!
- If you want to take the time to caramelize onions you can use those instead of roasting the onions. I promise it’s worth it and not that complicated and it adds a little extra punch to the dish.
things you may want for this recipe
Rimmed Baking Sheet – I always say these rimmed baking sheets are a kitchen must have. You can use them for roasting veggies, baking chicken or fish and for making cookies. They work great for bacon too! Since they are rimmed you don’t have to worry about juices or grease running off the edges and getting all over your oven. I have them in a couple of sizes to accommodate various baking and roasting needs!
Ancient Grains Buddha Bowl
For the bowl:
- 6 ounces extra-firm tofu
- 4 ounces baby bella mushrooms, stems removed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 ½ cups peeled and cubed sweet potato
- ¼ of an onion, cut into vertical slices
- ½ cup pearled farro
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
- half an avocado, sliced
For the cilantro pesto:
- 1 cup cilantro leaves, stems removed
- ¼ cup toasted pepitas
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
For the miso sauce:
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 ½ tablespoons white miso
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
For the Turmeric-Tahini sauce:
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- ½ teaspoon maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the tofu on a plate and cover with a paper towel. Gently press down to help drain the excess water from the tofu. Let sit and repeat after 10 minutes.
- Toss the mushrooms with 2 tablespoons olive oil, thyme, garlic salt and balsamic. Place them stem side down on one half of a baking sheet.
- Toss the sweet potatoes with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and place on the other half of baking sheet. Add the onions to the baking sheet with the sweet potatoes. Bake for 25 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.
- While the mushrooms & sweet potatoes are baking add the farro and water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Keep warm.
- Once the veggies are done baking, remove from oven and keep warm. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F. Slice the tofu into 1" thick slices and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes to drain any remaining water.
- While the tofu is cooking add the cilantro leaves, pepitas and garlic to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a standard blade. Pulse 4 times. Add the lime juice and parmesan and pulse again. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the motor running slowly pour in the olive oil and continue to process until fully combined.
- To make the miso sauce combine vinegar, honey, lime juice and miso in a small bowl and whisk together. Whisk in the sesame oil until a smooth sauce forms.
- To make the tahini sauce combine all of the ingredients in small bowl and mix together until a smooth sauce forms.
- After the tofu has finished baking remove it from the oven and cut into 1" cubes. Heat the remaining oil in a medium non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and cook for 4-5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove the tofu from the pan and drain on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
- To assemble the bowls divide the farro between two bowls. Top with tofu, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, onions and avocado. Add half the cilantro pesto to each bowl. Drizzle each both with the desired amount of miso sauce and tahini sauce. Serve immediately.
- If you are saving part of this for leftovers leave the miso and tahini sauces off until just before serving.
- If you have them on hand, you can replace the roasted onions with caramelized onions.