This Is The Best Grain Bowl I’ve Ever Made And It’s Officially a Go-To Meal
If you’re wondering what to meal prep this Sunday, look no further. This kimchi brown rice bowl by Love and Lemons hits all of the points for a weeknight dinner; it’s healthy, comes together quickly, and, despite being vegan, is actually quite filling. This grain bowl recipe has been on my weekly rotation for years and I’ve yet to get tired of it.
What’s in the grain bowl?
It wouldn’t be a grain bowl without some sort of grain and this recipe calls for brown rice. I much prefer brown rice over white rice since it is less processed and is high in fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and iron. The brown rice is topped with tons of vegetables: sliced cucumbers, red cabbage, avocado (yes, I know it’s technically a fruit!), and microgreens. While the microgreens are optional, I like adding them for extra texture and nutrients. My favorites are AeroFarms micro super mix or watercress, but any other local microgreen would work. To save time, I buy pre-made kimchi and particularly like the brand Mother In Law’s Kimchi, which has both a traditional and vegan version.
The most involved portions of the recipe are preparing the tempeh and peanut sauce — but, they’re really not time-consuming at all, maybe five to ten minutes of prep time for each. Unlike tofu which needs to be pressed, tempeh is ready-to-go straight out of the package. The marinade for the tempeh and the creamy peanut sauce each only have six ingredients, making them really easy to throw together. They’re all staple ingredients that you likely already have in your pantry. For the final touch, the recipe instructs to sprinkle sesame seeds over the bowl and garnish with lime wedges.
My tips for meal prepping
1. Double the recipe.
If you’re cooking for two (or more), I highly recommend doubling the recipe since it’s quite simple to adjust. The recipe yields about two to three servings, so it’s nice to have extra to enjoy for a couple more dinners that week. Just prepare an extra package of tempeh and slice double the amount of vegetables.
2. Prepare (almost) everything ahead of time.
This recipe reheats beautifully, making it wonderful for meal prep. Pre-cut all of the vegetables (except for the avocado) and store in an air-tight container. The tempeh and peanut sauce can also be made in advance and last up to one week. If planning to add this recipe to your weekly rotation, you can make extra of the peanut sauce and freeze it for future use. While rice is best fresh, I sometimes cook it ahead of time if I know it’ll be a busy week. To rehea, just pop in a preheated oven at 300 degrees fahrenheit for ten to 15 minutes.
3. Pan sear the tempeh, if you have time.
While the associated baked tempeh recipe calls for steaming the tempeh first, I didn’t find it particularly necessary. That being said, when I do have a little extra time, I prefer to pan sear the tempeh and then pour in the marinade and cook until it thickens and coats the tempeh. If you don’t mind cleaning an extra pan, this method packs in a lot more flavor!
4. Keep it simple.
While presentation is an important part of cooking, I eat with my eyes first. After all, I’m not fussed about aesthetics for weeknight meals. The cucumber ribbons are a stunner, but I suggest slicing the cukes into rounds to save time and spare yourself from cleaning another kitchen tool.
5. Use short brown rice, if in a pinch.
Because I typically find ourselves in a crunch on the weekdays, I often make this grain bowl with short grain brown rice. It is much more nutritious than white rice, but its cook time is much shorter than long grain brown rice. Short grain brown rice takes about 30 minutes on the stovetop, which is just about how long you’ll need to prepare everything else.
6. Don’t limit yourself to the ingredients listed.
I love the recipe as written, but have definitely mixed things up in the past depending on what’s leftover in the fridge. We’ve almost always used brown rice, but the recipe says you can swap for cauliflower rice or quinoa instead. I wouldn’t recommend skipping the kimchi, avocado, or peanut butter sauce but you could certainly swap out the cucumbers and red cabbage for other vegetables. During the colder months, I like using roasted vegetables, which tend to feel a bit heartier.