Bowls

Now feels like an awkward time to publish a cookbook on grain bowls. They’d become a joke in our house a while back and even lamestream food media seems to have recognized that they are over-hyped, at least as a trend. As a way of eating they remain wonderful and essential. But add them to the pile of faded cultural moments along with small plates (or maybe just having small plates explained to you at excruciating length?), “everything is better with bacon” (No, it’s not.), cupcakes, and prohibition-era cocktails. But from the trash heap of food frenzy we get to salvage the remains of what we like and incorporate them into our lives.

So maybe I am wrong and it is a good time for one more book of bowls. This one, Bowls of Plenty: Recipes for Healthy and Delicious Whole Grain Meals, is from Carolynn Carreño, one of my favorite cookbook coauthors, who is finally venturing out on her own. I know her mostly as the woman who collaborates on Nancy Silverton’s wonderful books, though her resume is long. She’s also proven herself to be a great internet pal, and she kindly sent me a copy of the book.

I’ve been cooking from it for a few weeks and have had only success. Carolyn’s grandmother’s oatmeal is delicious, and reheats as well as she promises. You can make a big batch on Sunday and have it for the week. It is made with steel cut oats, a healthy dose of raisins and a sprinkling of salty sunflower seeds. It maybe doesn’t require a recipe, but it is a good reminder that oatmeal can be thoughtful. I’ve become pretty fixated on her Rosemary and Buckwheat Crunch (a sort of granola), and have made that recipe a few times (I am including it below, in case you want to give it a whirl). Buckwheat groats really are nature’s Grapenuts–their particular tender crunch is so satisfying. She serves it with a dark honey (like buckwheat), and sheep’s milk ricotta (I used sheep’s milk yogurt) for a wonderful breakfast.

I was excited to try her recipe for Chinese Chicken Salad and it did not disappoint. You velvet some chicken, crisp some rice and throw together the rest of the ingredients. It is as moreish as the version found in chain restaurants while being more….wholesome? It is a fun thing to make for a Sunday lunch and then have the leftovers to bring to work on Monday. And the lamb meatballs included in her mezze bowl are truly exceptional. I will make those again a lot. The secret is a last minute toss in some pomegranate molasses that gives them a sweet/sour finish. They’re pretty irresistible.

If the last few weeks are any indication, I will be cooking from Bowls of Plenty of the regular. And I look forward to more solo projects from Carreño.

Rosemary-Buckwheat Crunch (from Bowls of Plenty)

  • 1 cup buckwheat
  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil or another neutral-flavored oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

To make the crunch, toss the buckwheat, walnuts, oil, maple syrup, and salt on a baking sheet and spread the ingredients out in an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes, until the buckwheat is barely golden. Remove from the oven and stir in the rosemary, and return the baking sheet to the oven until the buckwheat is golden brown and the rosemary is crisp but not burnt, 5-10 minutes. Remover from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature and crisp up. Store in an airtight container.

11 comments to “Bowls”

  1. “velvet some chicken…” WHAT. Never heard of that phrase but I am in love.

  2. Hi Judi! Yeah, def not a term that is commonly used. Sorry for not explaining properly. More info here.

  3. Mary Anne says:

    March 19th, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    Had the same reasponse as Judi. Will be looking up velvet as a verb as soon as I finish this comment. I can’t think of any less appealing name for a dish than “grain bowl.” I don’t think I’ve even read the full description of any grain bowl I’ve ever seen on a menu – I skip right over them. Though I agree that they are the kind of thing we should be eating lots of (and I make lots at home, without ever calling them grain bowls). Alsoooo…. lucky me, I have buckwheat groats languishing in the back of my pantry! So I’ll be trying this pronto! Sounds really great. Thanks!

  4. Dominique says:

    March 19th, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    I assume this uses buckwheat groats? Ive only used buckwheat flour in recipes so am unsure what form of buckwheat this recipe is calling for?

  5. Hi Dominique- Yes. Sorry, I thought that would be clear from the photos. I’ll clarify.

  6. Sara Rund says:

    March 20th, 2017 at 8:39 am

    That opening paragraph! You could write about any old thing and I’d be happy to read it. (And, in fact, you often do, and I am.) That phrase, “faded cultural moments,” is one I can foresee myself quoting again and again.

  7. Three cheers for simple and thoughtful cooking. And I am all for anything Grapenuts.

    P.S. Those waffles sound amazing, too. Bon Appetit does well with waffle recipes; the chocolate ones from the article on the Mast Brothers a few years ago were also winners.

  8. Shannon Murphy says:

    March 21st, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Okay this is freaking delicious. I didn’t have buckwheat groats so I used prepared horseradish…just kidding.

  9. Shannon! LOL. Good one.

  10. Really beautiful crunch! Are you using buckwheat that’s already been prepared or just using it uncooked?

  11. Trends for the sake of being trends are too much for me, in food and elsewhere (I’m already so over blue algae everything), but I have loved grain bowls since the first time I made one. As someone who eats grains/vegetables/cheese/nuts more than most other things, the concept of a (semi-composed) grain bowl makes me feel like I’m eating an acceptable dinner, rather than a side dish, if that makes sense. I love the idea of this book – and of adding rosemary to the buckwheat.