You’ve probably seen plenty of “Buddha bowls” on Instagram, especially if you follow healthy-eating accounts: As far as I can tell, the term most frequently refers to a grain bowl topped with vegetables. There’s plenty of debate about where the name originated.
I’ve come across hundreds of grain bowl recipes in plant-based cookbooks over the past few years, some called Buddha bowls and some not. They’re usually nonstarters for this column because they require you to cook multiple sub-recipes. Nobody wants to wrestle with 25 ingredients for a weeknight grain-bowl dinner.
One theory about the origin of the dish comes from Zen priest Dan Zigmond, co-author of “Buddha’s Diet,” who told Epicurious that the original Buddha bowl was something Buddha carried on his travels, filled by locals with food donations that he would eat at day’s end. “It was probably pretty healthy, since Buddha lived before the age of cheap processed food,” he said, “but it was also probably pretty simple.”
The one in Jean-Philippe Cyr’s book, “The Buddhist Chef” (Appetite by Random House, 2019), qualifies on both counts. It’s plant-based, which is true of most Buddha bowls, and all it requires is for you to roast sweet potatoes, microwave edamame, warm cooked grains, whisk together a tahini-based dressing and assemble. With pumpkin seeds and dried figs, it also displays — in flavor and texture — another tenet of Buddhism: balance.
- 2 large sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed
- 1 cup frozen shelled edamame
- 1/2 cup well-stirred tahini
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 cups cooked quinoa or other grain of your choice, warmed
- 8 dried figs, sliced
- 1/2 cup roasted unsalted pumpkin seeds, for garnish
- 1/4 cup assorted microgreens or sprouts, for garnish
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Transfer to a large, rimmed baking sheet and bake 20 to 30 minutes, until tender.
While the sweet potatoes are baking, cook the edamame: In a small bowl, microwave it on HIGH for 2 to 3 minutes until hot. (Alternatively, you can cook it in salted boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes.)
In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 4 tablespoons oil, the tahini, lemon juice, maple syrup, soy sauce or tamari, ginger, garlic and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Divide the quinoa among serving bowls and top with the sweet potatoes, figs and edamame. Drizzle with the dressing. (You may need only about half of the dressing; refrigerate the rest in an airtight container for up to 5 days.) Garnish with the pumpkin seeds and microgreens, and serve.
Adapted from “The Buddhist Chef” by Jean-Philippe Cyr (Appetite by Random House, 2019).
Tested by Joe Yonan; email questions to email@example.com.
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Calories: 480; Total Fat: 17 g; Saturated Fat: 2.5 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 340 mg; Carbohydrates: 71 g; Dietary Fiber: 11 g; Sugars: 14 g; Protein: 15 g.