I made these summer bowls right before we left for our Pacific Northwest road trip and am honestly still thinking about them.
I’m somehow always in the mood for a bowl while traveling (I guess really just all the time) and usually have a tough time finding them on the road.
When I do come upon a restaurant serving them, I do a little happy dance and order immediately…but I’m almost always a little disappointed. Most bowls I’ve had in restaurants look amazing but taste a little bland and boring.
Sadly, it usually ends up being a meal that helps me better understand why some people mistakingly believe that tofu isn’t delicious and amazing. Or that vegan food is boring or flavorless.
(Don’t believe it, people!)
Don’t blame those meals on the tofu. Or the veggies.
A great bowl meal needs a) a variety of fresh, seasonal vegetables, b) a variety of colors, and c) a really flavorful and delicious sauce or dressing.
Miss any of these components and I guarantee you will have a less than perfect bowl experience.
But include them all and you’ll be hooked for life.
With the bounty of fresh and colorful produce that’s available during the summer season, there isn’t a better time to incorporate more colorful veggies into your meals.
I fully encourage including any that your little heart desires.
Especially if they’re coming from your own garden, a local farmers market, or your CSA box, you really can’t go wrong.
A couple tips to aid in your choosing:
For me, this is the time of year that you really need to include some fresh sweet corn. (Just do it.)
I also recommend including something dark and leafy.
We have had some really great looking kale, swiss chard, and spinach at the Boulder Farmers Market and I have been using a combination of these in most of my meals this season. (Kale is my favorite for hearty flavor and texture and will hold up well in this recipe.)
Try adding something raw to your summer bowls. A nice, juicy farmers market tomato is always a good option. (And really, look for something fresh and local over the supermarket varieties if you can. It will make a world of difference.)
And then, fill in the gaps with a couple complimentary veggies. I added thick slices of portobello mushrooms and strips of zucchini for some added color, flavor, and nutrition. (Eggplant and/or sliced peppers would also be delicious – go by what’s available in your area.)
Finally, let’s talk sauce.
Because this summer avocado sauce is just everything right now.
Avocado, lemon, fresh basil, garlic. The best way to compliment the season’s bounty.
And your insurance plan for a flavor-packed, non-boring, can’t-stop-thinking-about-that-meal bowl recipe.
- 1¾ cup cooked barley (I prepared ½ cup pre-cooked "10 minute" barley with 1¼ cup water)
- 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
- ½ onion, cut into strips
- 1 portobello mushroom, cut into strips
- 1 zucchini, cut into strips
- 1 ear corn kernels (about ¾ cup, frozen will also work)
- 1 block tempeh, cut into strips
- 2 tablespoons vegetable broth or water
- 1 cup kale, chopped
- 1 large tomato, sliced
- Nutritional yeast for sprinkling (optional, substitute with parmesan cheese if desired)
- ½ avocado
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- 2 tbsp water
- ¼ cup (packed) fresh basil
- 3 cloves garlic
- crushed red pepper to taste
- Prepare barley (if needed) and set aside.
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat, add onion, and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add mushroom, zucchini, corn, tempeh, and broth and cook another 4-6 minutes. Add kale and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
- Prepare the sauce: Add avocado, olive oil, vinegar, lemon, water, basil, garlic, and crushed red pepper to a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
- Assemble the bowls: Add barley to bowls and top with vegetable/tempeh mixture. Add sliced tomatoes and sauce and sprinkle with nutritional yeast if desired before serving.
Help a girl out – where can I find the best restaurant bowl in America? Are there any meals that you prefer to cook at home instead of eating out? What are your favorite summer vegetables to cook with right now?