There’s a high chance your first solid meal came to you in a bowl. In fact, for many of us, it was a sign of growing up when we were finally allowed to trade our little plastic dishes for their much more adult counterpart – the humble china dinner plate.
However, it appears this trend has come full circle (excuse the pun), because bowls are back in fashion! Fresh, fast, and fun, it’s easy to see why meals-in-bowls have gained popularity as a delicious choice for breakfast, lunch, and tea.
The great news is, building a bowl involves little more than mixing, matching and layering ingredients you have on hand. (A bit like Lego. But edible.) No-frills and no-fuss, the whole aim is to use what you have at your fingertips to make something speedy, simple and delectable. If you get really stuck, there are some great recipes out there, but here are our tips to get your creative juices flowing:
- Choose your base
If your bowl is for breakfast, opt for chia, oats, or even a smoothie as your base – check out the Cacao & Chia Breakfast Bowl and Honey Citrus Breakfast Bowl for some great inspiration.
If you’re heading down the savoury bowl route, we suggest beginning with any sort of grain. Leftover rice from last night’s dinner will fill the bill, but if time is on your side, you may as well cook it fresh. Hearty, flavourful grains like quinoa, farro, freekeh, couscous, buckwheat, or any type of rice are all great choices, as are beans/legumes. A quick tip: if you want to jazz up your grains a little, add a subtle depth of flavour by simmering them in chicken or vegetable broth while cooking.
Remember, the base of your bowl should be between one third and one half of the total bowl, so choose wisely.
- Add the Rainbow
Breakfast bowls are easy for the next layer, simply load ‘er up with any fruit you can get your hands on – berries, or softer fruits, kiwifruit, orange and pear for example, work well. The same goes for the savoury bowl – just pile on your favourite raw, roasted, steamed or sautéed veggies. Again, there’s no judgment if you use leftovers – in fact, bowls are a good way to use stray vegetables that might be taking up room in your fridge.
Remember, texture is your friend here. Adding and playing around with different cuts and cooks of your fruit and veg will make your bowl so much more vibrant, as well as tastier. Slice, dice, or fry – you can choose your weapon. There are no limits on how many fruits and vegetables you want to add – the more the merrier!
If your bowl is for lunch or dinner, you’ll want to top it up with protein. Chicken, lamb and beef all offer fairly universal flavours that blend in nicely with a range of vegetables. Don’t overlook egg either – if you’re pushed for time or on a budget, a sunny-side-up might just do the trick!
- Get Saucy
We could wax lyrical about the benefits of a good sauce, but (this time), we’ll refrain. Do not hold back here – sauces and dressings are what will bring the flavoursome elements of your bowl together.
For the breakfast bowl, a quick drizzle of honey or maple syrup does wonders. For lunch/dinner options – go wild. Douse your bowls in anything from soy or fish sauce to a fiery tabasco, or a traditional barbecue or aioli. You can go so far as to add in a chunky salsa, hummus, or guacamole – there are no rules.
- Top it off
A handful of final ingredients will take your bowl from good to great. We recommend something with a crunch – for breakfast variants go for granola, muesli, or even toasted nuts and seeds. These add a satisfying crunch and are a great way to incorporate a bit of fibre. For the lunch/dinner bowls, components such as fried haloumi, feta, crispy shallots, or crunchy seaweed sheets will work – the Salmon Sushi Bowl and Greek Style Spartan Lunch Bowl both include some creative, delicious toppings.
And, hey presto, you are done! Quick, right?
Making your bowl might seem deceptively simple – but trust me, there’s no catch. If you need a hand to get started, check out some of our scrumptious recipes below.
A parting shot: it does pay to try and swim within the lanes of a certain cuisine or flavour profile. Some ideas to get you started could be Japanese – think short-grain rice, teriyaki chicken, and tonkatsu sauce, or Greek – lamb, obviously, with aubergine, cucumber and feta.
Oh, and one last hint – bowls are very enjoyable when served with red or white wine. (Which, if you think about it, is sort of in a bowl too.)