Quinoa Chickpea Buddha Bowl

This summer has been a glorious mix of amazing weather, trips to the farmers market, and travels to new cities. Since summer is on its way out (bo), I thought it appropriate to highlight one of my go-to meals recently: This 7-ingredient kale, quinoa, and chickpea Buddha Bowl.

It may seem simple and just like any other wholesome bowl, but the flavors meld together perfectly. It’s a nutrient powerhouse (with 22 g of protein per serving), and its simplicity is the best part (anyone can make it)!

What is a Buddha Bowl?

But first, what’s a Buddha Bowl?

It’s not clear where the term Buddha Bowl originated, and there doesn’t seem to be any strict set of rules for how to make one. But it seems to be roughly defined as a bowl with an assortment of small portions of different foods (especially grains & veggies).

Some say the concept is thought to emulate the way Buddhist monks would walk around with a bowl, accepting small portions from other people. Others claim that Buddha bowls refer to a healthy, balanced, but overloaded bowl resembling the rounded belly of the Laughing Buddha.

Either way, we’re Buddha Bowl fans around here!

How to Make This Bowl

This recipe is inspired by the Mighty Bowl at Prasad (one of my favorite Portland restaurants) and starts with cooked-from-scratch chickpeas (which are totally easy, by the way).

My new go-to quick soak method tenderizes the beans and opens them up nicely, saving you (6-8) hours of overnight soaking. Cook immediately after soaking, and you will have delicious, tender, nutrient-rich beans in roughly 2 hours flat.

In the final minutes of the beans cooking, it’s time to prepare your quinoa (a gluten-free, protein powerhouse), make your 3-ingredient Tahini Sauce, and steam your kale (why kale is amazing, in case you aren’t convinced). Then it’s Buddha Bowl building time.

This is the perfect meal for almost any occasion, but especially when you’re craving a healthy, hearty lunch or dinner. It packs up beautifully for work the next day for lunch. Plus, it’s ideal for serving a crowd as it’s suitable for pretty much every kind of special diet. Win-win!

Ingredients

CHICKPEAS

  • 1 cup dry chickpeas
  • Water
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

QUINOA

  • 1 Tbsp olive, grapeseed, or avocado oil (or coconut)
  • 1 cup white quinoa (well rinsed)
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • One healthy pinch of sea salt

KALE

  • One large bundle of curly (dinosaur) kale (rinsed and torn into large pieces)

TAHINI SAUCE

  • 1/2 cup tahini (raw or roasted)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup water

FOR SERVING optional but recommended

  • Fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  • Either soak chickpeas overnight in cool water (for 6-8 hours) or use the quick-soak method: Add rinsed chickpeas to a large pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for 1 minute. Then, please turn off the heat, cover it, and let it soak for 1 hour. Then drain, rinse, and add back to pot.
  • To cook soaked chickpeas, add to a large pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer, add salt and stir, and cook uncovered for 40 minutes – 1 hour 20 minutes (depending on the size/freshness of your beans).
  • Sample a bean at the 40-minute mark to see how tender they are. You’re looking for a just tender bean with a tiny bit of bite, and the skins will start to show signs of peeling (don’t go too mushy!). Once cooked, drain beans, set aside, and sprinkle with a bit more salt.
  • In the last 30 minutes of the beans cooking, start your quinoa by heating a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add oil and rinse the quinoa. Toast for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. This will allow some of the water to evaporate and add a nice, toasty flavor.
  • Add water and increase heat to medium-high/high to bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low (simmer), cover, and cook for 18-22 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender and the water has completely absorbed. Then, remove from heat and loosely drape the pot with a towel or paper towel to continue absorbing any excess moisture.
  • Prepare the dressing by adding tahini, sea salt, and garlic powder to a small mixing bowl and whisking to combine. Then add water a little at a time until it forms a pourable sauce.
  • Lastly, steam kale. Add 1/2 inch water to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Insert a steamer basket and the kale and cover. Steam for 1-2 minutes or until kale is vibrant in color and slightly wilted. Immediately remove the kale from the heat and transfer it to a small dish for serving.
  • To serve, divide quinoa, chickpeas, and kale between serving bowls and top with tahini sauce. Add a splash of fresh lemon juice for more flavor and a bit of acidity (highly recommended).
  • Best when fresh, though leftover sauce, quinoa, and chickpeas can be stored separately in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Kale is best when (steamed) new.

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