Weekly Meal Plan #14: Brilliant Bowl Food
While ‘bowl food’ has been a thing forever, and especially more of a trend on blogs and on Pinterest in the last few years, the first time I think I thought of ‘bowl food’ as a concept was when I was reading the then, newly published Simply Nigella volume I’d been given for Christmas. She talks about how she loves ‘bowl food’, where you can just curl up with a comforting bowl, so much more indulgent, and less formal than sitting down with a flat plate, knife and fork. In general, my generation, us much maligned ‘Millennials’ tend to lean towards eating out of big bowls anyway; while I have so many different plates and dishes for styling, our main dishes for everyday meals are big, blue pasta bowls. So, with this in mind here are five recipes for your busy weeknights ahead next week that are best served in big, generous bowlfuls.
Returning to a bit of a Meat Free Monday vibe for the first time in a few weeks, unusually the hero ingredient in this lentil bowl is goats yogurt. With some fresh herbs mixed in, it adds a little bit of difference to what is essentially a lovely warm bowlful of roasted veggies (great for fridge clearing, you can use up some herbs here too!) folded through one of my storecupboard heroes: a pouch of cooked lentils.
Tuesday: Cold Korean Noodle Bowl
Regular readers will know that I’m a sucker for an Asian noodle bowl not just because they taste amazing, but because they’re also fantastic vehicles for using up lots of odds and ends from the fridge (sensing another theme here?!) This Korean version gives us a base of chilled, nutty soba noodles and a zingy, sesame oil enriched kimchee sauce to which you can add all sorts of cold leftover meats, pickles and salad items. Oh, and don’t forget that perfect boiled egg with a hard white and runny middle to stir into the dressing!
Yes this bowl may another one of those fridge clearers, but it is full of punchy flavours, and most importantly different textures from crunchy pea crackers, juicy cherry tomatoes and tender roasted radishes to buttery, creamy avocado. It is naturally vegan (without trying to be) if you choose to just dress it with a mixture of olive oil, lime juice and chipotle paste, but if that is not a concern for you it is worth making the smokey honey dressing to pull the whole thing together: I love Gran Lunchito’s Smoked Chilli Honey which you can find in Whole Foods or order on Amazon (I love how Amazon has made world ingredients so much more accessible!)
Thursday: Korean Pork Belly Bun Bowls
A bit of a Korean/ Vietnamese hybrid here! A tangled bowl full of cold noodles is topped off with all of your favourite crunchy vegetables and aromatics (I love cucumber, radishes, snap peas, fresh chilli and lots of fresh mint and coriander) before being doused in a puckering, fish sauce based dressing. However, the real star of the show is the tender, punchy, shiny pieces of Korean marinated pork belly which I love served so many different ways; you could also stuff the pork into summer rolls, lettuce wraps or bao buns, which are easier than you think to make at home; I use the recipe in Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food (which I think is actually out of print – or removed from print as so many of the recipes are so indulgent – grab a copy if you see one!)
Friday is fish day, and as it is right in the middle of summer a cold rice bowl, topped off with plump, fatty salmon pieces tossed in a punchy dressing is just what I want to be eating for supper at the end of the week. Use the poké recipe and some cold rice as your base, and add all of your favourite toppings. I love adding bright, slightly acidic pineapple pieces to dishes like this but mango would also work well; cucumber kimchee is an enduring love of mine, but if you had a jar of any other type of kimchee in the kitchen, dinner will be on the table even quicker! Just remember to stop off at the fishmongers on the way home to make sure your fish is as fresh as it can be and suitable for eating raw. If you can’t get sushi-grade salmon, or tuna to switch it out with, still get some salmon, grill it and toss it in the dressing; you’ll still get a delicious supper!
A few of those, we taste best in the middle of the summer recipes to make over the weekend: Cheats Pina Coladas, Barbecue Pineapple with Rum, Chilli & Coriander, Skinny Buttermilk Ranch & Crispy Bacon Wedge Salads, The Only Tomato Salad Recipe You’ll Ever Need, Watermelon & Mozzarella Salad with Mint and Pine Nuts, Classic & Easy Summer Mini Crayfish Rolls, Chilled Peach & Tomato Soup, White Peach, Mozzarella & Pea Shoot Bruschetta, Prosciutto Wrapped Griddled Nectarine Caprese Starter, Sardine and Pea Shoot Bruschetta.