Back when I was still pursuing my meat-y ways, I would read the food magazines and newspaper articles, and become aware of all the culinary trends pertaining to meat-based meals. It was no surprise to me when burgers suddenly returned to the spotlight. How long really could they be pushed aside by pig cheeks or whatever offal cuts of meat that had their moment in the sun.
Now that our household has moved to vegetarian family meals, I’m a little less in tune with food trends. Fortunately, our in-house vegetarian, Louisa, is in tune and I just needed to ask for her guidance to get up to speed on what trendy vegetarians are eating these days. In searching for meals that are nutritious and pleasing to all, including Joe and I who aren’t vegetarian by philosophy, and Louisa who hasn’t exactly boarded the beans and legume train, it’s been challenging to come up with more than pasta dishes and egg meals. While working on this week’s menu I asked Louisa for ideas and immediately she volunteered that she really likes grain bowls. Smack my head. Of course she does, she often orders one at a local burger chain that offers grain bowls along with veggie burgers and other options for both carnivores and vegetarians. Trend alert.
I dove into Google and quickly came up with collections of recipes for grain bowls. Obviously I had been missing out on a trend that has come to home kitchens as well as restaurants. Therefore, this week I planned two different grain bowl meals.
Last night I prepared the first one, a recipe I found on Food Network.com, for a Barley Bistro Bowl. However, if you know your grains, you may be looking at the picture and thinking, that’s not barley, that’s farro, and you’d be right. Somehow in assembling my lengthy shopping list (did I tell you one of my biggest complaints is the ingredient list for veggie meals?) I neglected to write down barley, and couldn’t find any in my pantry. Luckily I did have a package of farro which seemed like a reasonable substitution.
Now, if you were astute enough to recognize the difference in the grain, you may have also picked up on the bacon pieces on the left side of the bowl. You would be right again! This recipe called for bacon, and breadcrumbs toasted in a little of the bacon fat. And the beautiful thing about these grain bowls is that you can build the ingredients adding different ones for each diner. Therefore, I left off the bacon and bacon crumbs for Louisa, and at her request I made some butter toasted bread crumbs for her bowl.
The sauce on the bowl is actually very healthy, with another substitution I was required to make. It was blended tomatoes and red peppers that I picked from the remaining produce in our garden, blended with garlic, tarragon and Greek yogurt which I substituted for the specified mayo. Someone had used up the last of the mayo and forgot to tell me. Oops.
We all really liked this dinner, including Joe who helped himself to seconds. My main complaint was the number of ingredients and prep time it took to prepare and clean up from this dinner. I look forward to figuring out shortcuts as I become more familiar with vegetarian meals, and I look forward to trying our second grain bowl later this week.