Wednesday, March 17, 2010

5 Minute Meal: Rice Bowl

Ah, the beloved rice bowl. So simple, so delicious, so... boring? Not with a little creativity. And it's that same creativity with flavor that keeps the rice bowl from becoming staid, and instead allows it become a versatile, go-to meal to suit your mood. Plus, a lot of rice bowl basics are shelf-stable and/or freezer ready, so it's the perfect 5 minute meal, and a great way to get your veggies.

Today was a rice bowl lunch kind of day for me. I had about 5 minutes to make lunch in between work projects, and after munching willy-nilly on scraps from the cupboards this morning, I was in the mood for something healthy, light and pure tasting. Asian flavors fit the bill today, and here are the basics for the rice bowl I made:
-- 1 package frozen organic brown rice from Trader Joe's
-- handful of frozen peas
-- 6 frozen cucumber wonton rolls (also from the beloved TJs)
-- 1 scallion, sliced thinly
-- soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil
-- toasted sesame seeds and/or chopped, roasted nori

All of the frozen ingredients -- rice, peas, wonton rolls -- can be cooked in the microwave, and if that's all you've got, that will work fine. But I like to cook and steam all the frozen elements together in one fell swoop in a pan on the stove. Simple: take a saucepan or skillet with a lid, and add enough water to coat the bottom of the pan. (This will prevent the ingredients from sticking, and also adds in the moisture needed to steam everything.) Pour in the rice and spread evenly in the pan; sprinkle on the peas, and add the dumplings. Put the lid on, and cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until the dumplings are heated through. While that's cooking, slice your scallion thinly, and prep any other ingredients you want to use. (Avocado is stellar in rice bowls.)

If you've got water left in the pan once everything is heated, take the lid off and let it cook for 30 seconds more to evaporate the water. Or simply pour off the extra. Add a splash of rice vinegar to the pan, and stir in soy sauce and sesame oil to taste. Put the rice and dumplings in a bowl, add any other ingredients you like, garnish with scallions, toasted sesame seeds, and even some chopped roasted nori if you've got it, and dive in.

Also, instead of or addition to frozen peas (if you really wanna get your veggie servings), I've used frozen broccoli florets, and even tried slices of sweet potato, which were a nice addition. Or you could stir in chopped spinach after the rice and dumplings are done cooking to wilt it slightly. And as I mentioned above, if you've got avocado, it really makes the dish sing.

Health-Righteous Factor (1-10): I'd give my lunch today an 8, but the rice bowl could be a stellar 10 if you load it chock-full with veggies. Here's a breakdown of why you can feel health-righteous with your rice bowl:

-- Brown Rice: a lovely whole grain chock full of fiber, selenium, magnesium and maganese
-- Peas: fiber, protein, Vitamin A and C, Iron -- what more could you ask for?
-- Other fantastic superfoods: Avocado, Nori, Sweet Potato, Sesame Seeds, Allium (scallion). had a great piece on 25 superfoods that includes these five ingredients; read more about Oprah's 25 Superfoods here.
-- the more you add -- broccoli, spinach, kale, etc. -- the more you benefit the wonderful, health-full you!

And as I said, the rice bowl is super versatile. I'll share more versions down the road, and I'd love to hear your rice bowl creations too!



  1. This is my kind of meal! It's the 5 minutes that attracted me in the title. I will pick up the ingredients next time I go to TJ's. Blog looks great!

  2. Fantastic! :) So easy and so good. Let me know what you think, and what concoctions you come up with!