I was going to write something like, “it’s that time of the year again when we’re all in a weeknight meal rut!” but then I was like…wait. When aren’t we all in a weeknight meal rut? This is not a seasonal problem!
So I guess I’ll just begin this post with, HELLO! I have a great weeknight meal for you!!!
If you’re looking for something easy, healthy, delicious, endlessly riffable (I learned this word from Bon Appetit, it makes me feel like a fancy food editor) and yes–it’s batch-able–you will love this no recipe recipe.
This isn’t necessarily something that is new to me, as I’ve been making iterations of it for years, but a blog post by No Crumbs Left re-ignited the idea to start making them again after I seemingly just forgot about them. (Do you follow her on Instagram? She is a LOVELY follow!)
My new favorite variation includes farro and a roasted red pepper sauce, but like I said above, you can really use anything you have on hand. Here’s how to do it!
Easy Weeknight Farro Bowls with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
“Choose your own adventure” grain bowls:
Your grain of choice:
Farro is my absolute favorite. I also love frozen brown rice if I’m shorter on time or too tired to cook farro. I highly recommend quick-cook farro–it cooks in as little as 10 minutes. If you like quinoa, you can totally use that too (although I’m not a big fan of quinoa).
Whatever you use, cook it according to package instructions, and for extra flavor you can cook in chicken broth instead of water (I like using Better than Bouillon to make the water into broth–keeps forever in the fridge and it’s a great flavor enhancer for all sorts of dishes), but its not necessary. lf you’re cooking in just water, just make sure to salt it accordingly. It should be as salty as the ocean!
Also worth noting–you can totally use this to make salad too, and just omit the grain. Would be equally delicious. (Although I prefer carbs in my salad. Thus, grain bowls.)
Protein of your choice:
This is delicious with any kind of protein. We cooked steak here in the cast iron (seasoned with salt, pepper, and a bit of chili powder and cumin) and sliced it to serve, but you could also use chicken, pork (great with a sliced pork chop or pork tenderloin) or salmon would work great too! Marinate and season with your favorite flavors! To simplify things even further, you can also roast your protein and veggies on a sheet pan all together to reduce dishes and hassle.
Roasted veggies of your choice:
Whatever you like! Here we used broccoli, red pepper, and cauliflower. I sprinkled them with salt, pepper, and cumin–but you can do whatever seasonings you love. Carrots, sweet potatoes, any kind of peppers, green beans, Brussels–there is no wrong answer.
I always love a combo of cooked and fresh veggies in grain bowls–I think that’s one secret to ensuring they always taste interesting and delicious. The roasting gives you depth of flavors, and the raw veggies give you that crunch and freshness.
Here we used avocado and thinly sliced cabbage (as that’s what I needed to use up!) but arugula or crunchy matchstick carrots would also be delicious! (TJ’s cruciferous crunch is always a slam dunk too!) I also love garnishing with some chopped green onions/scallions!
I had some queso fresco to use up in the fridge that I meant to throw in here, but I forgot–turns out it wasn’t necessary anyway, haha! But if you have any cheese to use up, throw that in if you’d like! Feta is always a crowd-pleaser. Leftover fresh mozzarella? Sure! Whatever you fancy. (If you can’t tell by now, grain bowls are a great way to use up anything you have on hand!)
Terri of No Crumbs Left also reminded me that everything is better with pickled onions. She is famous for her marinated onions that she adds to her recipes and they are absolutely TO DIE FOR. They are especially great in salads and grain bowls. Highly recommend making them! (As a general rule, pickled onions make basically everything more delicious!)
You really don’t need a recipe to make pickled onions–all you need is vinegar. Any kind, really, depending on the flavors you’re going for and what you have on hand. For example, if I were making an Asian inspired rice bowl, I’d marinate some onions in rice wine vinegar. If going for Italian flavors, I’d use balsamic. Want something middle of the road that goes with everything? Go with red wine or white wine vinegar. Additional spices, salt and pepper are great, but optional.
Roasted red pepper sauce:
The idea to make this sauce was again, inspired by No Crumbs Left to make a roasted red pepper sauce. Mine is actually quite different than hers but she gets credit for the inspiration! ♥️ You can see her recipe (which I’m sure is delicious!) here, but I had to work with what I had on hand instead–I’d call this more of a “lazy pantry staple” version.
This is a no-recipe recipe so taste and adjust as you go and of course use your own judgement as to quantities based on how much you’d like to make/how many you’re serving. Also it looks like a lot of bullet points but I promise it’s so easy and took me all of two minutes!
- A couple roasted red peppers (from the jar–roasted red peppers are a great pantry staple to keep on hand as they are delicious to blend into sauces!)
- A bit of plain greek yogurt and/or mayo (I usually do half and half ratio–if you want a good amount, you could aim for about a cup total)
- A clove of garlic
- One or two shakes of smoked paprika (depending on how smoky you’d like!)
- A few shakes of chili powder
- A shake or two of salt and pepper
- Drizzle of your favorite hot sauce
- Drizzle of vinegar–white wine or red wine would be best!
- Blend all together with an immersion blender or regular blender
No time to make sauce? Fresh store-bought pesto is delicious (mix it with greek yogurt and mayo for a creamy sauce!) or store-bought Tzatziki if you don’t have time to make your own. Tessamae’s also makes great dressings. I also love TJ’s Jalapeño green sauce, Soyaki sauce, curry sauces, or their green Zhoug sauce!
Play around with different flavor profiles and/or spice mixes:
The seasonings and red pepper sauce we used here have a bit of a southwest flair, but you can adjust to whatever flavor profile you love! You could easily turn this into more of a taco bowl, a Greek bowl, teriyaki, jerk, cajun–the sky is the limit based on what you’re feeling like. I also LOVE The Spice House spices and seasoning mixes for meats and veggies. I’ve never had anything of theirs I didn’t love.
Batch ahead of time:
All the ingredients here are super easy to batch ahead of time for lunches as well. Make a bunch of farro, roast a bunch of veggies, pre make your sauce, etc. All of these things keep in the fridge for several days!
Hope this gave you some great inspo for a new healthy dinner to cook up this week!
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