3 Tasty One-Bowl Meals To Try This Week
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The one-bowl meal has become a staple of contemporary eating. But the idea of a complete meal in a bowl is not new: think of Korean bibimbap, a sizzling hot stone bowl of rice served with a colourful array of pickles, spicy chile sauce, and an egg; or traditional Japanese donburi rice bowls topped with vegetables and meat or seafood; porridge with flavourful toppings is a classic bowl both in the UK and across Southeast Asia. In many cuisines, the nutritional power couple of beans and rice unite in one bowl. Whether it’s savoury or sweet, Mediterranean or Scandinavian, a bowl offers a nourishing, personalised and delicious meal in one.
In my book, a bowl is defined by the following equation: base + topping + topping + sauce (sometimes: not every bowl benefits from a sauce, because often there’s already a creamy component working its magic, such as yogurt, cheese or a runny egg yolk). The foundation of every good bowl is the base, think rice, other grains and legumes, noodles, or greens. Greens can be rinsed, dried, and stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them. Noodles are generally best cooked the day you eat them, but rice and other grain bases can be cooked ahead, and you might even consider making a double or triple batch for a week of meals.
A bowl needs at least a couple of toppings. However, quality is much more important than quantity – two delicious toppings are better than four that are just so-so. The best bowls have a variety of flavours, textures, and colours.
Protein also plays a valuable role. In some cases, the base is a protein, like green lentils, or one of the toppings could be a protein, such as prawns. Feel free to improvise by including protein in the form of dairy, eggs, tofu, beans, meat or seafood. For tinned seafood like anchovies and tuna, make sure to choose sustainably caught fish packed in 100% extra-virgin olive oil. Buy cheese and smoked fish from local shops, if you can, or order online. Eggs are a super-quick and affordable source of protein. And when you top a bowl with a soft-boiled egg, the runny yolk acts like a built-in sauce, cloaking the other ingredients with its rich flavour.
My bowls are often garnished with a crunchy or bright element. A finishing touch like toasted nuts or seeds looks beautiful and adds a little surprise. Pickled pink onions lend their tart pop to all kinds of bowls, from Mexican dishes to smoked salmon on rye. Sometimes the simplest flourish of a few fresh herb leaves is all you need.
There’s something comforting about eating a meal in a bowl. Putting together the base and the toppings is a satisfyingly creative act, one that’s ideal for busy home cooks because most components can be prepared in advance. When you’re ready to eat, just assemble and serve.
Inspired? Here are three bowls to make at home…
Yogurt With Grilled Pineapple, Honey-Lime Syrup & Gluten-Free Granola
This sunny yogurt bowl is topped with pumpkin seed-studded granola. You’ll have plenty of granola left over. It keeps well for weeks and is delicious on its own. For the pineapple, you can, of course, use a whole fresh fruit cut into ½-inch slices, but the canned slices are so quick and they taste great – just make sure to choose the kind in 100% juice, not syrup.
Tofu Katsu With Ginger Bok Choy
The panko-crusted tofu that tops this rice bowl has a crispy exterior and a meltingly soft interior. It looks like it has been fried, but it’s actually baked in the oven. For store-bought katsu sauce, see if you can find Bachan’s – a fantastic teriyaki-ish Japanese-style BBQ sauce. You can also mix your own katsu sauce by stirring together 70g of ketchup, 2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce, 2 tsp of soy sauce or tamari, and a pinch of sugar.
Crispy Mustard Chicken With Puy Lentils & Watercress
In this very green bowl, little French green lentils (sometimes called puy) are topped with leafy spinach and a vibrant sauce made from watercress. Crispy mustard chicken turns it into a meal. For a vegetarian alternative, swap out the chicken for sunny-side-up eggs.
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