Friday, November 06, 2009

rice bowls extraordinaire

We're finding ourselves tending toward the vegetarian lifestyle more and more these days. It's not that I emotionally object to the killing of animals for food. In fact, if they're raised sustainably, I think they probably live a better life than they would have otherwise. It's just that I'm often disappointed by the flavor and texture of meat, even if I spend the money on the organic stuff. When I have no idea for a meal and go to the fridge full of Tantre Farm veggies, my mind starts scheming about vegetarian.

In addition, with a family of six, I make a policy not to make six different meals. I firmly believe in not adapting the concept of an entire meal to one demanding child. Once you start that, it's all downhill. This is how generations of finicky adults are enabled. I do, however, sometimes make meals where different people can choose different toppings to the main dish. As much as I don't like to make special orders as a short order cook, I do realize that individuals have preferences for different flavor profiles.

Rice bowls are one of my favorite examples of this style of meal. I fill the rice cooker with good jasmine, basmati, or sushi rice, (have also used quinoa) and then proceed to prepare the toppings. Sometimes with a mexican bent; other times with an asian flare. This time around I was going for fall accents. Everyone gets the base of rice, then they can construct their own delicious bowl, with the intention that the adults get it all.
  1. diced fresh pumpkin. tossed with spanish olive oil, kosher salt, and penzey's chili powder. roasted at 400 degrees for 20 minutes until brown.
  2. fresh baby spinach.
  3. cabot's white cheddar. grated.
  4. fresh avacado. diced. tossed with lime juice to prevent browning.
  5. goya black beans. rinsed.
  6. baby leeks (could also use scallions or shallots). chopped, then sauteed in brown butter until crispy.
  7. drizzled chili oil. (heat 1 cup e.v. olive oil to a boil. shut off heat. add 2 tbsp red pepper flakes. let sit. use for this recipe and save the remainder for the next rice bowl night.)
The key to this is utilizing and accenting complimentary textures, so that you get different mouthfuls every time. As we're all eating, and groaning, and mmmm-ing, I'm wondering why anyone would add a dry grilled chicken breast to this perfect balance of plant goodness.

One note: Despite how awesome this vegetarian meal was, I will NEVER NEVER give up bacon or prosciutto. EVER.


Lilies of the Field said...

that meal was pure T to C. period. but you can add some MEAT to mine next time .. . I won't mind ;)

SUPPERMAN Chef said...

Anytime there are lots of little bowls to dig from... and's tons of fun. You've given your family the rice version of the always fun 'Taco' night...w/ lots of tasty choices. I think I'll do the same tomorrow night w/ a Thai bent... add-ons to include chopped roasted peanuts, a sauce (made w/ fish sauce, peanut butter, lime juice, and coconut cream), thin strips of crispy toasted shallot, fresh cilantro, finely sliced Thai chilis, and lime wedges. A little sweet & spicy cucumber salad on the side.
BTW... the last sentence of today's post had a ring of desperation & panic...DON'T one's taking any smoked/cured ham away from you.