Today I set out to make something new (to me). I was inspired by Chef Christian Spiegal’s experiments with beets – if you missed that post, you can catch up HERE. Originally I thought about making a beet salad. Then I thought about roasted beets. I even considered beet soup. In the end I opted to cook something I had never made before: a Beet Buddha Bowl.
If you aren’t familiar with Buddha Bowls you aren’t alone. I, too, was unaware of their pervasiveness in cooking these days. But a quick Instagram search let me know how behind I am. The hashtag #buddhabowl has over 300,000 posts! They are a trendy thing for vegetarians and vegans to do with their meals. And it’s been trendy for at least 3 years. I found an article by Bon Appetit, and it was incredibly helpful in catching up and brainstorming the possibilities.
What Makes a Bowl a Buddha Bowl?
The idea is to get a complete, nutritious meal. You grab a wide bowl, add a starch (rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, for example), some plant protein (avocado, edamame, tofu), an assortment of whatever vegetables you have handy, and top with a sauce or other seasoning. The concept lends itself well to experimentation with the current contents of your fridge.
The Buddha Bowl hasn’t remained strictly vegan/vegetarian. I’ve seen plenty of examples online of folks adding egg, lean meats, and even bacon. But for my first try I decided to stick closely to the original concept. So this recipe is vegan. I assume a Buddhist monk would be happy to eat it. So let’s start building the bowl!
The Roasted Veggies
I love roasting vegetables. It’s easy and it always tastes delicious. Beets and other root vegetables caramelize slightly so their sweetness is enhanced. Since the roasted vegetables take the longest, it’s best to prep them first. Preheat your oven to 425-degrees. Then start prepping the beets. Simply cut the tops and tails off, then peel.
Don’t throw away the greens! We will be sauteing them later. Just wash, roughly chop, and set aside. Because greens shrink down quite a bit in heat, chopping them in half is enough.
In addition to the beets, we are also roasting green beans and okra. Chop the okra into bite-sized pieces. Remove stems from the green beans, if needed. All of these vegetables taste great with just a tiny enhancement from salt and pepper. I like to drizzle them with a little oil, and then sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Toss them all together to coat well before adding them to a foil-lined tray and placing them in the oven.
I know this is OCD, but I like to separate the veggies into their types on the tray. But I have a good reason! They cook at different speeds, so it makes it much easier to pull them out when they are ready, then let the rest continue to cook. The green beans cook for about 15 minutes. Pull out the tray, use a wooden spoon or heat-proof spatula to scrap them into a bowl. Then put the tray back in the oven for another 5-7 minutes. Then pull the okra out and do the same. The beets will continue to cook until you can insert a fork easily. It takes about 50 minutes total.
The next ingredient to cook is the black rice. For a single serving you need about 1/2 cup of black rice. It cooks for approximately 35 minutes in simmering water. When it is done, let it rest a few minutes and then add it to your bowl. There is no need to season it further. Black rice has a natural nutty and sweet flavor. Since you are topping it with the seasoned vegetables, the rice will take on those flavors also.
In the last 15 minutes of the roast, start prepping the quick-cooking ingredients. For this recipe we are using edamame, beet greens, and avocado. Do a light seasoning of the beet greens with salt, but don’t overdo it. Because they will cook down be careful not to over season them. Saute the greens in a small amount of oil until just wilted.
Steam the edamame for about 5 minutes, then remove from their shells. You want to shell about a handful. Then cut the avocado in half, slice, and spoon out.
Assemble the Bowl!
It’s assembly time! This is the fun part. Now that everything is cooked it’s simply a matter of arranging the ingredients in a aesthetically pleasing way. This is the last step to achieving Buddha Bowl nirvana.
I’ll admit, I couldn’t help but sneak a few bites as I assembled the bowl. Since all of the ingredients are lightly seasoned, their natural flavors come through so nicely! The beets are the shining part of this Buddha bowl because you experience both the sweetness of the red beet, and also the crunch and earthiness of the greens. Absolutely delicious!
Beet Buddha Bowl
This is a vegan / vegetarian recipe, but feel free to add egg or your choice of meat if you prefer.
- 2 medium beet roots, plus greens
- 4 oz. fresh green beans a large handful
- 5 oz. okra approx. 10
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil divided
- 1 cup black rice uncooked
- 5 oz. edamame frozen
- 1 avocado
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 1 tsp. black sesame seeds optional topping
Preheat oven to 425-degrees.
Chop the greens off the beets (reserve for later), and the root tail. Peel beets.
Cut okra into 1-inch rounds.
In a medium bowl, toss beets, green beans, and okra in 1.5 tbsp. vegetable oil and salt & pepper to taste.
Place vegetables on a foil-lined tray. Add to preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes and remove green beans. Continue cooking for 5 more minutes, then remove okra. Continue cooking for approximately 30 more minutes, or until a fork inserted in a beet goes in easily.
While vegetables are roasting, prepare other ingredients.
Add black rice to 1 3/4 cups water, stir. Heat at high heat until boiling. Stir, reduce heat to low, cover and continue to simmer for 35 minutes.
Steam edamame in microwave or steamer pot for five minutes. Remove and shell.
Chop beet greens in half. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Drizzle in 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil and add beet greens. Saute until just wilted. Remove from heat and season with salt.
Slice avocado in half and remove pit. Slice in skin and then remove with a spoon.
Add rice to bottom of bowl. Assemble ingredients on top. If desired, sprinkle with black sesame seeds. Serve immediately.