By Cheryl Ryan
Lately, every cooking show, blog and website is featuring a bowl arranged like a piece of art. The idea is in the simplicity of doing a lot of the prep ahead of time. Once prepared, you can use the ingredients throughout the week then add a little something unique to make it different. This keeps the nightly cook time to 15 or 30 minutes, all while producing a gorgeous fresh meal.
Who’s not in for that? My family is fully aware of my desire for healthy, simple food and equally aware of my laziness when it comes to spending hours in the kitchen cooking and cleaning each night. During the winter I make a lot of stews or hearty soups by just throwing everything into a pot. I make enough so that I can heat leftovers for lunch or dinner the next night. But because none of us want to eat hot food or spend hours chopping for salads, bowls are a perfect summer solution. I actually prefer cooking in the morning while I have energy rather than at night when I’m tired which also adds to the allure of preparing ahead.
Unfortunately, my first attempts have been less than amazing. For one, all the veggies that I roasted on Sunday were mushy when I used them the next evening and my bowls looked anything but artful. Everything was just colliding into each other, looking more like a Pollock painting than a Rembrandt. So I’ve had to do a little research to master this bowl thing.
What I’ve Learned
I’ve learned that I need to store the roasted vegetables in an airtight container. Then when I use them I can heat them in the oven on low for about 10 minutes so that they aren’t cold and don’t get mushy. It actually worked like a charm. I also realized that my bowls were old school. They were deep and narrow at the bottom so everything just fell into each other.
So I’ve ordered these 2 inch high, wide-mouthed bowls which, I’m hoping, will allow me to create a photo-worthy presentation. I’ve also found these great sauce recipes that I can do ahead and put into a squeeze bottle for the week. This makes it all taste delicious and look downright fancy. Another trick to making them look and taste better is to add some fresh herbs and crumbled cheese onto the top.
I’ve mainly been using rice which works great for a stir fry one of the nights. You can start with the protein, add the rice and veggies, then use whichever sauce and herbs you want to top it with. But I’m looking forward to using beans or some ancient grains in my upcoming creations.
Here are a few recipes I want to try. Please share any that you’ve made. The options truly seem endless.