“The world can be divided into two kinds of people…” – it’s one of those sentences that we have all uttered at some point in our lives. And although at first it seems like a rampant oversimplification, I find that it is uncannily accurate and I have over the years become an inveterate collector of ways in which the world can in fact be divided into two types of people. Let’s see…
- People who can touch their toes and people who can’t.
- People who follow the rules and people who don’t.
- People who prefer sweet and people who prefer savoury.
- People who chew chocolate and people who let it melt in their mouth.
- People who make things simple and people who make things complicated.
- People who sleep like a corpse and people who sleep like a restless octopus.
I have recently also added another division to my list: people who prefer their food on a plate and people who prefer their food in a bowl. Of course, the reason why I noticed this is because of another immutable law of nature: if you are a toe-toucher, you will marry a non-toe-toucher and so forth. Me, I am a plate person. I think it probably stems from my early childhood when my mom used to make my brother and I the ’70s kiddie equivalent of a tapas meal: rolled up pieces of ham, cubes of cheese, chunks of apple, Hellmann’s mayonnaise and crackers all served in one of those retrotastic 1970s faux wood compartmentalised picnic plates. I am sure that this early compartmentalisation of food is what led to my penchant for keeping foods separate today – I like my sauce or dressing separate from my food and I always sprinkle salt in a little pile on the edge of the plate, dipping my food rather than dousing it. Nick, on the other hand, is a bowl person all the way. If it can feasibly be served in a bowl, that’s exactly how he eats it: pastas, salads, curries – everything except a standard meat-potatoes-two-veg sort of meal. My latent food OCD shudders slightly at the disorganisation of it all.
But just as they say owners start resembling their dogs, spouses over the years do start to adopt each other’s habits. Sadly I can’t say I have adopted Nick’s boundless enthusiasm for competitive sports; and happily I have managed to avoid his limitless capacity for old Westerns. But on the food front he has gradually persuaded me to try hotter and hotter foods (bearing in mind that when I met him I found a korma a bit challenging); and I have to admit that every now and again, I see perfect sense in eating from a bowl rather than a plate. I hasten to add that I am not jumping on the smoothie bowl bandwagon anytime soon. It seems that the latest trend is to make an extra thick smoothie, bung it in a bowl, sprinkle with fruit, seeds & nuts and call it a breakfast bowl (a.k.a The Key To Instant Health). No – for me bowlfood is more about comfort and convenience and requires rather specific foods.
I like my smoothie in a glass, thanks very much, and I like my steak on a plate. But for some reason, anything carby or legume-y that I plan to consume on the sofa on a Friday night while catching up on Gogglebox just seems to taste better in a bowl. I’m thinking chickpea and chorizo stew; or a soupy green Thai chicken curry; asparagus & smoked salmon pasta; or even a spaghetti squash risotto. On cold nights, I totally get the joy of cradling a hot, sustaining bowl in your hands rather than balancing a plate on your knees, and so my slippery slide towards bowl meals began. Lately, there has been a massive rise in the popularity of the so-called Buddha bowl which is basically a healthy meal in a bowl: a grain, a legume, some vegetables and a dressing, all in one handy bowl. It’s a trend much beloved by fans of superfood and it seems there is an unspoken competition to see just how many superfoods you can squeeze into one bowl. But for me, it’s more about the colours, the textures… and what’s in the fridge on a night when Nick is out and I want to whip up a quick bowl before snuggling up on the sofa! These quinoa bowls are my current go-to option. I love the nutty combination of quinoa and bulgur; I love both the colours and the crunch of the vegetables; and I love that I can cook a big pot of quinoa and make variations of this for lunch all week. In these images I didn’t, but I often top it with a scoop of creamy hummus or sprinkle with some toasted sesame seeds – feel free to experiment! Are you a bowl or a plate person, and have you tried Buddha bowls?
- half a cup of bulgur wheat
- half a cup of quinoa (I used an equal mix of red and white)
- 2 cups water
- ¼ tsp salt or vegetable bouillon powder
- 1 cup frozen edamame beans
- 1 large or 2 small sweet bell peppers, chopped
- extra-virgin olive oil
- lemon juice
- Smoked salt (I used Halen Mon) and black pepper
- Hummus or tahini (optional)
- Place the quinoa (not the bulgur) into a sieve and rinse thoroughly with cold water for about 2 minutes. Leave to drain.
- Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the quinoa and cook for about a minute, stirring frequently, until any liquid has evaporated, then add the bulgur and stir to mix. Add the 2 cups of cold water and ¼ teaspoon of salt or bouillon powder and bring to a rolling boil. Turn the heat down to its lowest setting, cover with a lid, and cook for 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, gently defrost the edamame in the microwave or blanch in hot water. Chop the sweet pepper into small chunks.
- After 15 minutes, remove the quinoa and bulgur from the heat and allow to stand covered for 5 minutes, before gently fluffing with a fork. The quinoa is cooked when you can see little spirals curling from the quinoa seeds, like tiny sprouts.
- Divide the quinoa, edamame and peppers equally between four bowls. Dress with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and mix thoroughly. I use smoked salt for an extra flavour dimension, but good quality unsmoked salt is fine too.
- If using, add a dollop of hummus or tahini to each bowl and serve.
Love quinoa as much as I do? Here are some more recipes from the web:
- Meeta’s quinoa tabouleh
- Kellie’s quinoa bowl with citrus, avocado and edamame
- Camilla’s Warm rice & quinoa salad with pan-fried tofu
- Sarah’s beetroot salad with freekeh and quinoa
- Laura’s spring green & quinoa salad
- Helen’s quinoa, rice and tomato bake with roasted vegetables
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