My best meals come from when I have a bunch of leftover bits in my fridge and I have to make something out of them. I bet you would say the same thing. My favorite meals are bowls of food that contain a balance of grains, greens, veggies, legumes, doused in a delicious dressing. Bowls of food made form leftover bits in the fridge is my kind of real, everyday food.
More and more I am making a conscience effort to collect the odd parts of the vegetables that you might otherwise discard. You know, the stems or leaves that often get chopped off and forgotten about. Since there has been an abundance of swiss chard in the markets right now, I'm finding myself buying them for their vibrant colored stems, instead of for their leaves, since they make such a tasty treat when they are roasted and sautéed. Maybe you've been doing this all along since your mom and grandma used to do it, or maybe you've been throwing them away. Either way, I hope you save your stems, sauté them with some garlic and olive oil and add them to a bowl of grains and other goodies.
In addition to those pretty chard stems, lots of extra inspiration went into this humble bowl of veggies. Sarah's (Sprouted Kitchen) newest book: Bowl + Spoon, hardly needs an introduction or an endorsement since she is she such a superstar who consistently produces excellent recipes, words, and photographs. Her latest book has has inspired many of my recent meals at home, especially when it's just me or me and Michael on a weeknight. The Bowl + Spoon concept is simple, lovely, and pure genuius. Bowl food is the best food, and should be celebrated. This green harissa that she shares in the book should also be celebrated. I have made it about 15 times in the past few weeks, I cannot stop pouring it over anything and everything, and anyone that I have made it for is obsessed. She serves it in the book with eggs, potatoes, and asparagus. This bowl I am sharing today is not too dissimilar, but I promise you that there is not much that this sauce would not compliment.
This bowl was also inspired by some trays of microgreens that were given to me last week by lovely Brendan of Good Waters Farm. His microgreens are a staple in my shopping cart, so I thought it was so kind of him to give me some trays to play around with. I have been expeiementing with different ways to use the microgreens ..... pesto is always a win, throwing it into your smoothie is also a great way to use up those last bits that you might have left (you know, before they go bad), but the most obvious way is also the best way to use these special mini greens, which is sprinkled over a salad (or ANY dish). It gives a pop of flavor, and makes your food look so much more elegant.
I've been eating grain bowls since wayyyyyyyy before grains bowl became "a thing" on the internet. Although, I never gave them such a sophisticated name, they were always my: let's-see-what-I-have-in-the-fridge-to-make-an-edible-and-nutirious-lunch .... bowl. They make for the best lunches and the most complete meal. In this grain bowl, I decided to make the sprouts the co-star with the grains, since I had a variety at my fingertips. There are no strict rules to using the microgreens, I like to throw it all in and get surprised by he different pops of flavor. If fact, there are no strict rules when it come to throwing together a grain bowl, just maybe a few bendable guidelines. For my grain bowl, I usually like to have a grain, a bean, some greens such a kale or arugula, microgreens, some sautéed veggies, and every once in a while a fried or poached egg on top. But of course, all of this can sway depending on what's in my fridge, what I have prepared already, and what kinda mood I am in that day. You know this drill.
grain + sprout bowl with sautéed chard stems + green harissa (and a fried egg if you like!)
for the green harissa:
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of parsley
1/2 cup of cilantro
1/4 cup of mint
1 serrano (or jalapeno) chili, stemmed + seeded (mostly)
the juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1/4 teaspoon of salt (a little more if you like)
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
for the chard stems:
about 10 chard stems (leaves reserved for another use), cut into 1" pieces
some olive oil
salt + pepper
1 large clove of garlic, minced
guidelines for the grain bowl:
about 1 cup of cooked grain such a quinoa, millet, farrow, barley, spelt, etc etc.
about 1 cup of cooked beans such as navy, pinto, black, cannellini, kidney.
about 2 large handful of greens such as kale, chard, spinach, arugula (or a mix)
Several pinches of microgreens. I like to use a combination of a few such as sunflower, watercress, sorrel, wasabi, basil, arugula, etc.
Any other garnishes that you like such as nuts + seeds.
I also sometimes like to add a fried or poached egg on top.
Make the harissa:
- Add the garlic, parsley, cilantro, mint, chili, lemon, cumin, and salt to a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Then, while the food processor is running, drizzle in the olive oil until everything is combined. Set aside until you're ready to assemble.
Sauté the chard:
- Heat some olive oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat. Add the chard stems and sauté for about 7-10 minutes until they are good and tender. Season with salt and pepper, add in the garlic, and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside until you're ready to assemble the bowls.
To assemble the bows:
- Again, this is more of a guide, but this is what I like to do. First, in a large bowl, add a couple of spoonfuls of the harissa to the grain, and toss to coat evenly, then add in the beans, and toss, and lastly add in the greens and toss. You might want to add a little more harissa at this point too. Then divided the grain salad evenly amongst the bowls, divided the sautéed chard as well, and garnish as you please with some microgreens, nuts, seeds, and the egg if you like. Serve any additional harissa on the side (this will also keep for a few days, in an air-tight container in the fridge).