Grain bowls are popping up on menus all over and with good reason. They offer fun combinations of flavors, textures and colors and depending on what sauce and how much of it you use, they can be a really healthy option. They are easy to prep on the weekend for weekday lunches and just so customizable. Make a large batch of grain, cut up some veggies, pick your protein and your sauce and let everyone go to town on their lunches!
When my friend Carolynn suggested grain bowls for her birthday celebration recently, I decided to make it a Grain Bowl: Potluck Edition. It really was perfect!
Now, I have hosted a lot of Salad Suppers where I provide the lettuce, grilled chicken, dressings and sourdough bread and everyone brings their favorite salad toppings to share and these suppers are always a hit. So I thought, why not apply the same concept to grain bowls?
I cooked up some green lentils and brown rice, quick-pickled some red onions, put out some dried red cherries and arugula and then made a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. I also thawed some curry sauce I had in the freezer. And of course, I had sourdough bread.
Several of the attendees were unfamiliar with grain bowls and understandably leery of the whole idea, but they love Carolynn so they brought their toppings and I think they were more than a little surprised at how much they enjoyed the food. There was rotisserie chicken and chickpeas for protein; brown rice, quinoa and lentils for the grain; toasted pecans, water chestnuts and chow mein noodles for crunch and lots of veggies. I thought the curry would be the favorite sauce but the balsamic vinaigrette was definitely the clear winner. It’s so good and so easy to make.
Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
- Whisk together equal parts dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar and sugar.
- Continue whisking for a few more minutes while slowly drizzling in a good quality olive oil until you get a thick consistency. Your oil to vinegar ratio should be around 4:1.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
You can leave the sugar out if you prefer.
The best thing about this dressing is that you can make just enough for your own salad or a larger amount, like I did for the Grain Bowl: Potluck Edition. And it’s made with ingredients that are staples in my pantry. So easy!
We had a wonderful time celebrating our friend but I think we were also inspired to eat more grain bowls on our own. I hope this post inspires you to experiment with your own grain bowls and maybe even host your own Grain Bowl: Potluck Edition. Enjoy!