The Grain Bowl is intended to supply the body with a ‘complete protein’.  With the combination of a Pulse (dried bean, fresh pea, fresh bean…) and Grain (Quinoa, Millet, Black Rice, etc.) the Grain Bowl has everything one needs for a healthy Entrée.  It can be seasoned in almost any way you like, and condiments can be added accordingly.  Here are some ideas for different types of Grain Bowls.

Curry Chickpeas on Quinoa topped with Labne, Toasted Coconut, Sesame, Sumac, Fresh Cilantro, Chopped Green Onion, Jalapeno (spices for chickpeas would be cumin, dill seed, fennel seed, curry, caraway, fresh ginger, fresh turmeric)
Black Bean Chili on Quinoa topped with Sour Cream, Cilantro, Scallion, Roasted Corn, Avocado (chili spices such as mace, cumin, cinnamon, pasilla chilies, ancho or mulato chile, basil, oregano)
Black Eyed Peas on Quinoa topped with pickled sweet red peppers, feta, scallion and parsley (spices for peas might be simply some sage, nutmeg or a simple leek sauté)

The variations are endless due to the amount of dried beans available.

When using dried beans, make sure you soak them overnight in cold distilled or filtered water.  Before cooking them, always rinse them well and sort out those that might be bad or discolored.  When using fresh shelled peas, make sure they are also rinsed well and the shells completely discarded.  

To Cook Beans                                                             For Quinoa

1.5 cup chickpeas (soaked, rinsed and sorted)            1 cup Quinoa

4 cups boiling water                                                       1 ¾ cup water

2 bay leaves                                                                    2 tbsp vinegar

1 tbsp salt                                                                        1 tsp salt

                                                                                         2 tbsp olive oil

For Sauté

1 cup chopped onion                                                    1 tsp ground fennel seed

½ cup chopped celery                                                  1 tsp ground anis seed

¼ cup chopped garlic                                                   2 tsp curry powder

¼ cup chopped carrot                                                   2 tsp ground coriander

1 stick butter                                                                   ½ tsp ground chili powder

¼ cup olive oil                                                               ½ cup freshly chopped ginger

½ cup dry white wine                                                    ¼ cup freshly chopped turmeric

¼ cup tamarind                                                              ¼ cup lime juice

Boil water for chickpeas.  Add chickpeas and bay leaf and keep at a medium boil, while skimming the top of the water, removing the foam and discarding.  For perfectly tender chickpeas, boiling slowly for about 1.5 hours should make them very tender without them falling apart.  They will firm up again when combined with the sauce, so you want to make sure they are very soft.  Once this is done, drain and KEEP the water.

Melt butter in a saucepan, and then add olive oil and all vegetable except ginger and turmeric.  Sauté on low temperature to bring out the sweetness.  Be careful not to brown or burn.  This should take about 45 minutes with frequent stirring.  Add Ginger and Turmeric and bring heat to a medium temp for about 10 minutes.  Add Wine and reduce for about 20 minutes.  Add dry spices and keep stirring.  When Spices start to stick, add 3 cups of leftover broth, the lime juice and tamarind.  While still warm, emulsify all ingredients until it has a thin soupy consistency, and then add chickpeas.  

(If you wanted, at this stage you could also add some roasted or cooked vegetables to this stew such as sweet potato, peppers, zucchini or butternut squash.)

Make sure the Quinoa is rinsed in a sieve under cold water.  It sometimes has a bitter hull on the outside.  Bring water to a boil; add quinoa, salt, olive oil and vinegar.  Stir well and reduce to lowest heat and finish cooking covered for 20 minutes.

When portioning out your Grain Bowl, make sure you have enough sauce to absorb into the quinoa.

For this Grain Bowl, I would recommend topping it with some toasted coconut, labne (as a probiotic), fresh cilantro leaves, and possible some freshly chopped scallions and maybe a hot pepper.  

(c) David Sweeney