The Buddha Bowl
Honestly, I’d never even heard of a Buddha bowl until a week or two ago. I was kind of shocked that it won last week’s poll by so much! At first I thought it was a recipe, then after a few google searches, I realized it was more of a product – an actual bowl.
Oh well. All I know is that I read in a magazine (Body + Soul – Betsy subscribes) that you could make a Buddha bowl meal. The magazine presented it as more of a concept than a recipe though. If I had to, this is how I’d define it:
Buddha Bowl (n.) — Various flavorful veggies (and occasionally meats) packed into a bowl over grains or rice and normally accompanied with a sauce of some sort.
So that’s the idea and this is my take on it:
You can probably spot most of the ingredients, but instead of rice, which is on the bottom of the bowl, I used a turmeric-spiced quinoa. Quinoa is the new hip grain that all the cool kids are cooking and with reason. The stuff is pretty tasty!
1) Cook quinoa according to package. Add a pinch of turmeric to simmering quinoa.
2) Prep the tofu by pressing with a paper towel to remove moisture and slice into 1/2 inch slices then lay slices out on a paper towel for more moisture removal.
3) Place tofu in a dish and add sauce. Turn pieces to make sure they are evenly covered.
4) Wash and chop veggies into thick slices.
5) Add a few tablespoons of neutral oil to a hot pan. Let the tofu cook for about 4 minutes a side.
6) Remove the tofu and cook the veggies in the same pan with a tablespoon of fresh oil for a few minutes.
7) Plate a serving of quinoa or rice in a bowl and add your veggies and tofu around the sides and place the sauce directly in the middle to serve!
Prepping the ingredients
The first thing you need to prep for this yummy and healthy bowl is the tofu. Extra firm is best for this dish because you want a firm final product. Even with extra-firm, I like to press out some of the moisture to make sure it browns nicely.
So slice your tofu into 1/2 inch slices and lay them out on a paper towel.
Then throw a few paper towels on top of the tofu and add a flat surface like a cutting board. Then put something heavy on top to slowly press out some of the moisture from the tofu.
What’s that very heavy thing on top of my tofu? Well, that’s my quinoa soaking. Here’s a close up:
Some instructions call for soaking quinoa for 2-3 hours in cold water. I was in a rush so I only soaked mine for about 20 minutes and I didn’t notice any odd effects.
Marinating the tofu
I think it adds some great flavor to the tofu (which needs it) to marinate it for even a few minutes before cooking. Just put it in a dish after you’ve pressed it and add your sauce to it. Kind of flip all the pieces around a bit to make sure they are evenly covered. This is the same sauce that I serve with the meal. No need to make more… it’s just tofu!
Also, wash and chop your veggies. You can slice them into pretty thick slices.
Cooking the quinoa
Quinoa cooks basically like rice (and you could substitute any kind of rice for this dish without a problem). Add your quinoa to a large saucepan with a lid and add 2 cups of water to every cup of quinoa. So for the recipe above, you’d add 4 cups of water. Plus a pinch of salt. Let it come to simmer and then cook it for about 15-18 minutes with the lid on.
I also added some grated turmeric to my quinoa right when I started it. The turmeric kind of cooked into the water and gave the final grain a fantastic color and almost earthy flavor. It was awesome. I was able to find some of the fresh stuff at Whole Foods. I’d never actually used it before. It’s bright orange and stains everything it touches. It like ginger root on the outside and beet on the inside. Weird stuff.
But, if you want, you can grate it up and add it to your rice or quinoa and it’ll kick up the final version a notch.
Cooking the tofu and veggies
To cook the tofu, add a few tablespoons of neutral oil to a hot pan. Let the tofu cook for about 4 minutes a side. It should brown really nicely. Watch out! The oil will splatter!
Once the tofu is done, you can cook the veggies in the same pan. You might need to add a tablespoon of fresh oil. Cook the veggies for just a few minutes. You want them still to have a tiny bite.
Then plate up a bit serving of quinoa or rice in a bowl and add your veggies and tofu around the sides. If you want to get all fancy you can stick a tiny bowl of sauce right in the middle like I did in the first photo.
This dish also happens to make for an awesome lunch. Here’s my packed up version in an old Chinese take-out container.
The only thing I think I would change about this meal if I made it again is maybe make the sauce a little spicier. But that’s just my personal tastes. You could get very creative with toppings and other veggies also though. Just remember, it’s all got to fit in a bowl! It’s kind of a zen meal like that.