steamed rice bowl bar

Lazy genius: the superfood rice bowl bar. Whether you want to sell it to your crowd as something inventive and new or the laziest way to make a weeknight dinner ever, we don’t mind. Either way, seriously consider putting this meal idea into rotation just before or after taco night.

We first tried this idea at The Chalkboard HQ — back when we were doing the whole in-office thing. Ever since, we’ve been crafting iterations of this rice bowl bar at home and it’s a god-send for flexitarian families who don’t all eat alike. Vegans, carnivores, spice-lovers and the kimchi-obsessed can all craft a bowl they love from a remarkably similar selection of ingredients. One thing is for sure: Its all about the sauce. 

Here’s how to make it happen:

rice bowl

The Superfood Rice Bowl Bar

The Grain Base | Start with steamed sprouted brown rice or your grain of choice. Some love white rice for the purported gut health benefits, others stick to ancient grains like barley, quinoa or even a grain-based noodle which also works here. We’re huge fans of these Sun Chlorella udon noodles that are packed with green nutrients, cook quickly and have a salty bite to them.

If you haven’t grabbed the Instant Pot yet, maybe this is your time! Alternatively, steam the rice the old-fashioned way in a pot of boiling water while you prep the other ingredients.

how to make a grain bowl

The Veggies | This is where that farmer’s market haul can really come in handy. Ever walk the market, want to pick up all the wild veggies you come across, but don’t think you’ll get around to using them? A rice bowl bar will put them all to good use — and get everyone eating a wider variety of plants!

Add whatever colorful rainbow vegetables are in season or are family (slash roommate) favorites. For the grain bowl bar shown here we used a few fresh and a few roasted (Here’s our guide to roasting every veggie!):

+ roasted beets, purple sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts and garlic sauteed mushrooms

+ raw shredded carrots, fresh tomatoes, shredded lettuce, avocado, shredded purple cabbage, radish sprouts, sesame tamari spinach and pickled onions.

grain bowl

The Proteins | Here’s where everyone can diverge depending on their preference. Carnivores can add grass-fed steak strips, vegetarians can go with a soft boiled egg or two sliced in half and ready to eat, vegans might enjoy add tempeh or pumfu.

The Topping | Here’s where things can get pretty crazy, but remember we’ve still got sauces to cover! If you want to add toppings, try:

+ kimchi or sauerkraut for probiotics (this ginger beet version is amazing)
+ fresh herbs: cilantro, parsley or microgreens are nice depending on what’s on your bowl bar
+ a handful of nuts ands seeds: sesame, chia, hemp, almond or peanut chunks

Next up, three easy sauce options from food god, Sarah at The Delicious who knows a good bowl when she makes one:

Kale Pesto 

Makes about 1 cup

1 clove of garlic, green stem inside removed
2 tightly packed cups green kale leaves
1 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, leaves and tender stems only
3/4 cup olive oil
grated zest from 1 lemon
1-2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt

In a food processor, pulse garlic clove until chopped. Add a handful of kale leaves and pulse until chopped. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil and pulse. Continue adding kale leaves and parsley to food processor, alternating with olive oil and pulse until all the greens are roughly chopped. You may have to remove the food processor lid and push the leaves down the sides of the processor bowl with a wooden spoon.

Let the food processor run at low speed and add the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and the remaining olive oil until the pesto is smooth. (You might not use all the olive oil.) Taste the pesto and season with additional salt, if necessary.

Store pesto in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for about a week, or in the freezer for about a month.

Miso Tahini 

Makes about ½ cup

1 clove garlic, very finely minced
¼ cup tahini
2-4 Tbsp shiro (white) miso, depending on how salty you like
juice from half a lemon, about 1 Tbsp
¼ cup warm water or more
salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
optional: lemon zest, 1-2 tsp honey or maple syrup, handful finely chopped herbs

Combine minced garlic, tahini, 2 tablespoons miso and lemon juice in a bowl. Add warm water by the teaspoon and whisk until the sauce is the consistency of a thin salad dressing. Taste and additional miso if necessary — I usually add the full 4 tablespoons.

Add black pepper to taste.

Miso tahini sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for about three days.

rice bowl bar

Gohchujang Hot Sauce

Makes about 1/2 cup

1/4 cup gohchujang (Korean red pepper sauce)
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp brown rice vinegar
water, to thin for consistency

Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. If the sauce is too thick, add water, about a 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until the sauce has the consistency of ketchup.

Gohchujang hot sauce sauce can be stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for about a week.

Always more sauce. Get our own go-to sauces for eating more veg here! 

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