This quinoa power bowl is the kind of lunch I liked to pull together back in the days we would work in our studio in San Francisco’s Chinatown. It was something I would make regularly because it checks all the boxes — interesting, seasonal, filling, and nutritious. The base is simply mung beans and quinoa topped lots of good stuff. I'd argue, the magic *really* comes from deeply sautéed and spiced celery. The celery brings an incredible amount of flavor and depth to the rest of the dish, and welcomes all sorts of other toppings - roasted cherry tomatoes, salted dill yogurt, quick pickled red onions, chopped olives.
The Key to an Easy Power Bowl
I tend to keep a range of cooked beans and grains on hand, and that is one little trick that makes something like this easy to pull together. So, if you want something like this quinoa power bowl to come together quickly, the key is to make components ahead of time. Do a bit of meal prep. I tend to cook components for the week on the weekends, in big batches, and then keep an amount I think we might eat in the refrigerator. Freeze the the rest after allowing it to cool completely. This way I always have cooked quinoa, barley, brown rice, mung beans, just a quick thaw away.
Keep it Simple or Load it Up!
When it comes to power bowls, you can make things simple, or flared them out with as many toppings as you like (as pictured). This was a late summer version, but I imagine an autumn version with roasted delicata squash, or baked mushrooms, or herb jam would be great later in the year. Or do a homemade labneh in place of the yogurt.
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Quinoa Power Bowl
This is great at room temperature, or reheated. To transport to work (or picnic) bring the mung beans, quinoa, and celery in a large jar, and any other toppings in small jars. It's quick to combine when you're ready for lunch.
- 4 tablespoons clarified butter or olive oil
- 1 head celery, cut into ½ inch segments
- fine grain sea salt
- 1 large clove garlic, very thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- a big handful of dill, chopped
- 2 ½ cups cooked mung beans
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1/2 - 3/4 cups water, or as much as needed
- Topping ideas: lots of chopped green olives, lots roasted cherry tomatoes, quick pickled red onions, big dollops of salted dill yogurt, thick threads of olive oil
Heat the butter in a large pan over medium-high heat, stir in the celery along with a few large pinches of salt. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until the celery softens, and then starts to brown and caramelize.
Stir in the garlic, and cook for another minute. Stir in the chile flakes, ginger, turmeric, and paprika. Cook, stirring constantly, for another minute or until the spices are fragrant. Stir in the dill, the mung beans, the quinoa, and then 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup of water, enough that the mixture is moist, not dry.
For serving, the toppings are key. At the very least add a dollop of lightly salted yogurt to each bowl. Even better if you have any or all of the following on hand - green olives, salted dill yogurt, roasted cherry tomatoes, quick pickled red onions or shallots.
Serves about 4.