Bowls used to evoke visions of Oliver Twist hold one while posing that fateful request: “Please sir, I want some more.” But Dicken’s famous waif has been pushed aside in my mind by another Brit, celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, who poses on the cover of her 2015 cookbook holding a stack of pristine white bowls in her hands.
“If I could, I’d eat everything out of a bowl,” Lawson writes in “Simply Nigella.” “For me ‘bowlfood' is a simple shorthand for food that is simultaneously soothing, bolstering, undemanding, and sustaining.”
The word might also be considered shorthand for a new way of eating – as the bowl takes over the dinner plate as the meal vessel of choice in restaurants and at home, it has come to mean a category of food, with all the elements of a meal together.
“Most bowls are very component-oriented: grain, proteins, vegetables, sauce,” said Lukas Volger of Brooklyn, N.Y., author of “Bowl.” “It makes sense in a bowl.”
Spring rice bowls with chive oil
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
From “Whole Bowls” by Allison Day, creator of the Yummy Beet blog (www.yummybeet.com).
1 cup uncooked short grain brown rice
2 cups water
1 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups cooked chickpeas
3/4 cup fresh or dry, cooked and peeled, or frozen, defrosted fava beans
2 carrots, julienned, shaved, or shredded
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely diced fresh chives, plus chive blossoms for garish, optional
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
Make the bowls: For the brown rice, in a medium saucepan, bring water and rice to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes. Steam, covered, for 5 minutes; fluff with fork before serving.
For the asparagus, add to a large-rimmed baking sheet. Roast in a preheated 400-degree oven for 10 minutes. Alternatively, steam asparagus for 3 to 5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine chickpeas with fava beans.
Make the chive oil: In a small bowl, combine all chive oil ingredients.
To serve: To bowls, arrange brown rice, chickpeas and fava beans, asparagus and carrot. Drizzle with chive oil and garnish with chive blossoms (if using). Serve warm or chilled.
Per serving: 525 calories, 24 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 68 g carbohydrates, 1 g sugar, 14 g protein, 811 mg sodium, 12 g fiber
Grits with spicy collards, shrimp and red peppers
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
A recipe from Robin Asbell’s “Great Bowls of Food.” Polenta may be used instead of grits, she writes.
3 cups water
1 cup grits
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch collard greens, stems removed, sliced
1 teaspoon water
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined
2 jarred medium roasted red peppers, drained, sliced (or homemade)
Heat the water to a boil in a 1-quart pot over high heat. Stir in the grits and half the salt; cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Remove pan from the heat, cover and let stand to thicken, about for 5 minutes (or follow package directions).
While the grits cook, stir together the mayonnaise, garlic and lemon juice in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a large skillet, heat half the olive oil over medium-high heat; add the collard greens. Stir to wilt, then sprinkle in 1 teaspoon water; cover the pan. Cook until softened, 2 minutes.
Scrape the greens into another bowl. Add the remaining olive oil to the same skillet; heat over medium-high heat. Add the red pepper flakes, and shrimp; sprinkle with the remaining salt. Cook, stirring, until the shrimp are pink, lightly browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes depending on size.
Divide grits among four bowls. Top with the shrimp, place the greens beside the shrimp, garnish with red pepper slices and drizzle with mayonnaise mixture. Serve warm.
Per serving: 382 calories, 11 g fat (2 g sat.), 188 mg cholesterol, 45 g carb., 6 g sugar, 30 g protein, 644 mg sodium, 6 g fiber
Rice bowl with ginger, radish and avocado
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
In her book “Simply Nigella,” Nigella Lawson describes this as a “non-recipe recipe” because she makes it differently each time depending on what foods are available. Lawson usually uses raw radishes but writes that you may roast them, too: Halve the radishes, roast cut-side down with a little oil at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. We added tofu to the dish for additional protein, but you may leave it out.
3/4 cup uncooked short-grain brown rice
1 cup cold water
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
4 to 6 radishes
1 1/2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 teaspoon organic raw apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup mixed seeds, such as pumpkin, sunflower, sesame
3 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 small ripe avocado
Grilled firm tofu, cubed, optional
Put the rice and the water in a heavy saucepan that comes with a tight-fitting lid; bring to a boil over high heat. Once it’s bubbling, clamp on the lid, turn the heat down very low and simmer, 25 minutes. Then turn off the heat, leaving the lid on, and let it stand for another 5 minutes, by which time the rice will be cooked – but still nutty – and the water absorbed.
Meanwhile, shave the ginger into very thin strips with a vegetable peeler. Cut the radishes into quarters or eighths lengthwise, depending on their size.
When the rice is cooked, spoon into a mixing bowl. Add the tamari or soy sauce and the apple cider vinegar; toss with a fork to combine. Do the same with the ginger shavings, radishes and seeds. Stir all but a little of the chopped cilantro into the rice, still using a fork.
Divide rice between 2 smallish bowls; top with avocado, cut either into gondola-shaped slices or chunks. Add tofu, if using. Sprinkle with the remaining cilantro.
Per serving: 525 calories, 24 g fat (4 g sat.), 0 mg chol., 68 g carbohydrates, 1 g sugar, 14 g protein, 811 mg sodium, 12 g fiber