This week carried a distinct, somewhat eerie sense of calmness. Sleepy clouds settled in, I lost all resolve to wear anything besides yoga pants, and I found myself in the strange position of completing all of the urgent items on my to-do list. It was odd. On a more industrious week, I would have used the extra time to start on a long-overdue project or sort laundry. Instead, I made myself a Roasted Veggie Buddha Bowl with Quinoa and Avocado for lunch.
It was a fantastic decision.
A marvelous mix of caramelized roasted veggies, creamy avocado, crispy tofu, and nutty quinoa tossed in an herby tahini dressing, this Buddha bowl recipe is both nourishing and delicious. After finishing my serving, I felt simultaneously wowed by its different elements of flavor and texture and as if the wholesomeness of the ingredients was radiating through me.
If you raised your eyebrows (or snickered) at the name “Buddha bowl,” you are not alone. Forever behind on food trends, I hadn’t heard the term until Lee introduced me to it a few weeks ago. Essentially, a “Buddha bowl” is a dynamo, all-in-one meal comprised of healthy ingredients like grains, roasted veggies, nuts, and greens piled into a bowl, then topped with a yummy sauce or dressing. Buddha bowls are a great way both to repurpose leftover odds and ends and to hit every food group in a single dish.
Buddha bowl aliases include: “glow bowl,” “nourish bowl,” “hippie bowl,” and “power bowl.” Technically this recipe is a “quinoa bowl” too, and although I don’t think you’ll find the name “healthy bowl of awesome” on a menu any time soon, it applies to this Buddha bowl too.
The Buddha bowl has several components, but they are largely hands off and can be prepped at the same time. On sheet pan number one, we have the veggies, simply roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I used a mix of broccoli, cauliflower, and red onion, but any vegetables you love or have on hand can be substituted.
On sheet pan #2, we have the tofu. While my favorite way to cook tofu is via this stovetop method, I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to fuss with the extra sauté pan, so I decided to try Dana at Minimalist Baker’s method for baked tofu instead. While I still love my ultra crispy “unfried” tofu the best, the baked tofu cubes were still nice and firm, and I liked that I could cook them in the oven at the same time as the veggies.
Next, we have the dressing. Of all of the different components in these Buddha bowls, the tahini mint dressing might be the one I love the most. It’s creamy, alive with flavor, and adds just the right amount of zip to these Buddha bowls.
If you aren’t familiar with tahini, it’s a paste made of ground sesame seeds and has a consistency similar to natural peanut butter. Tahini is a staple in Mediterranean recipes, including hummus, and I happen to have a jar that’s been giving me the stink eye from the back my refrigerator for longer than I care to admit. Now that I know how fabulous it tastes as a base for dressing, I don’t expect the rest of it to last long.
The final additions are quinoa (brown rice or farro would be nice too) and avocado. I also tossed in some fresh cucumber and toasted almonds for crunch. If you must, you can skip the last two, but I insist on the avocado. It’s critical to keeping the quinoa bowl mixture from tasting dry, and its creaminess makes the Buddha bowls feel comforting.
How to Store and Reheat This Buddha Bowl
- To Store. I recommend saving the different components of the Buddha bowl (tofu, veggies, quinoa, and dressing) separately, then combining and reheating just before serving. Saved in this way, the veggies can keep for several days in the refrigerator and the tofu for 1 week. The dressing will last in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm your bowl in the microwave until heated through.
More Bowls of Healthy Goodness
- Whole30 Vegetarian Power Bowls
- Egg Roll in a Bowl
- Teriyaki Salmon Quinoa Bowl
- Copycat Chipotle Burrito Bowl
- General Tso’s Chickpeas
- Honey Lime Tofu Stir Fry
Tools Used to Make This Recipe
Admittedly, I didn’t attempt laundry immediately after polishing off my quinoa Buddha bowl, but if I had, I’m positive I could have matched my socks in record time. Consuming this much goodness in a single sitting will make a gal feel invincible!
Roasted Veggie Buddha Bowl with Quinoa and Avocado
For the Buddha Bowl and Quinoa:
- 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
- 3/4 pound cut broccoli florets
- 3/4 pound cut cauliflower florets about 1/2 medium-sized head, cut into slightly smaller pieces than the broccoli
- 1 medium red onion cut into 1/2-inch rings, rings mostly separated but still left "chunky" (no need to split every layer)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus additional for cooking the quinoa
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 block extra firm tofu (12 to 14-ounces) (do not use firm or silken), removed from packaged and pressed dry
- 2 small ripe Hass avocados
- Optional for serving: Sliced cucumbers toasted almonds or pistachios, additional fresh mint and parsley
For the Tahini dressing:
- 1/2 cup tahini* well stirred
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice about 2 large lemons
- 1 1/2 cups lightly packed fresh mint leaves about 1 of the herb packs
- 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh parsley leaves
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and the quinoa. Return to boil, cover, then reduce heat and simmer for 12 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat, fluff with a fork, then recover and let stand for 15 minutes. (This is the cooking process for the brand of quinoa I use. Check the package of your quinoa and cook according to its directions.) Set cooked quinoa aside.
- Place a rack in the upper and lower thirds of your oven and preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. While the quinoa cooks and the oven preheats, place the tofu between two kitchen towels and set on a plate. Place a second plate on top, then press firmly to press out as much water from the tofu as you can, changing out the towels as needed. Dice into 3/4-inch cubes, then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Place the broccoli, cauliflower, and onion on a second baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper, toss to coat, then spread into an even layer. Place both baking sheets into your oven. Bake the tofu until dry and firm, about 20 minutes, and the vegetables until caramelized and tender, about 25 minute. Flip the vegetables once half way through, and rotate the top and bottom rack positions of the baking sheets. Set aside.
- While the vegetables and tofu cook, prepare the dressing: In the bowl of a food processor or blender, place all of the dressing ingredients—tahini, lemon juice, mint, parsley, salt, and pepper, and add 1/2 cup water. Blend until smooth.
- Once the tofu is cooked, let cool slightly and then place the tofu cubes in a bowl with 1/4 cup of the dressing and toss gently to coat. To assemble the bowls, scoop quinoa into a bowl, then top with the roasted vegetables, dressed tofu, and avocado, along with cucumber, almonds, and additional fresh mint and/or parsley as desired. Serve remaining dressing on the side and use as a dip or spoon over the top as desired.
- I recommend saving the different components of the Buddha bowl (tofu, veggies, quinoa, and dressing) separately, then combining and reheating just before serving. Saved in this way, the veggies can keep for several days in the refrigerator and the tofu for 1 week. The dressing will last in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
- *Tahini substitute: I haven't tried it, but I suspect natural creamy almond, cashew, or peanut butter would be a delicious substitute for the tahini. Because nut butter is thicker than tahini, you may need to thin the dressing with additional water to reach a sauce-like consistency.
- Other veggies: Not a fan (or out of) broccoli and cauliflower? Try this recipe with roasted sweet potatoes, zucchini. or any of your other favorite veggies!
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