Do you have a favorite hippie bowl?
If you live or have lived in a college town or other community with a strong vegetarian culture, you know what I mean.
I found mine many years ago when I was a student at Mizzou: the Buddha Bowl at the Main Squeeze, a juice/smoothie/sandwich/salad cafe in downtown Columbia, Mo. that serves this glorious assembly of ingredients. I’ve had other grain bowls like this — always with a whole grain, some raw vegetables, some cooked, a lightly cooked protein, crunchy seeds, wispy sprouts and a tangy dressing — and sometimes make more simplified versions of them at home.
Ever since I had that tofu brown rice bowl at Main Squeeze, I started marinated and baking tofu for my own, very humble grain bowls.
Mine aren’t nearly as elaborate as the one in the restaurant or this version from Sara and Hugh Forte, authors of “The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon” (Ten Speed Press, $25).
Their hippie bowl, like the one from the Main Squeeze, has lots of components that each require attention, but once you have some of the ingredients prepared, it comes together quickly.
They use millet here, but brown rice is easier to find and just as good. Feel free to use your own kinds of sugar and hot sauce, or swap out the tofu for leftover roasted or grilled vegetables or meat. The authors note that these grain bowls travel well, so if you’re tired of airport or road trip food options, consider packing one to go.
For the marinated tofu:
2 (14-oz.) packages extra-firm tofu
1/4 cup coconut sugar
3 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
3 Tbsp. sambal oelek (chili paste)
1 1/2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
For spiced sunflower seeds:
3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 Tbsp. muscovado sugar
For the bowl:
1 cup millet
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups stemmed, chopped kale
4 cups (about 5 oz.) baby spinach
Juice of 1/2 lemon
4 carrots, shaved into ribbons
1 cup sprouts (broccoli, pea, or microgreens)
2 avocados, peeled and quartered
For the dressing:
1/2 cup tahini
2 Tbsp. white or yellow miso
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
2 tsp. Sriracha or other hot sauce
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1 large orange (about 1/3 cup)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste
Drain and press the tofu between the layers of a folded dish towel to absorb any excess liquid. Cut each block into 1-inch squares.
In a shallow dish, whisk together the coconut sugar, soy sauce, sambal oelek, vinegar and sesame oil. Toss the tofu with the marinade and let soak for at least 30 minutes — a few hours is even better — flipping them halfway through.
For the spiced sunflower seeds, heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and toast the sunflower seeds until just fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the salt, cayenne and sugar and toss them around until the sugar is hot enough to stick to the seeds, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a piece of parchment and spread out in a single layer to cool. The seeds can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in an airtight container.
In a small pot over medium-low heat, add the millet and toast for a few minutes until you hear them start to pop. Add the broth, bring it to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and cover and cook for 15 to 18 minutes, until millet is tender. Turn off the heat, remove the lid, fluff with a fork, and stir in 1 tablespoon of the oil. Cover it again and let sit until ready to use.
Heat the oven to 475 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spread the tofu on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, tossing halfway through, until the edges are browned.
To sauté the greens, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the kale and spinach in batches with a pinch of salt and the lemon juice and sauté just until wilted, about 2 minutes.
Whisk together dressing ingredients.
Assemble your bowl with a portion of the millet, and then add your other toppings in quadrants on top: a scoop of tofu beside the warm greens, the carrot ribbons next to the sprouts. Top with some avocado, a hearty sprinkle of spiced sunflower seeds, and a generous drizzle of the tahini dressing. Serves 4.
— From “The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon: Simple and Inspired Whole Foods Recipes to Savor and Share” by Sara and Hugh Forte (Ten Speed Press, $25)