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Dinner by the bowlful

March 9, 2015

Tofu and veggie stir-fry can be made with any combination of vegetables you like.

PARIS — I’ve collected bowls for years.

Big ones, little ones, and bowls shallow and deep. I use bowls not just for eating out of but for collecting keys and glasses, keeping bedside-table necessities wrangled, for storing rolls of twine and string in the kitchen, or just about anything else.

My mom collected bowls, too, and so did my grandmother. I blame my obsession on genetics.

When I moved to Paris more than eight years ago, I began what has turned into a far too large collection of cafe au lait bowls, some vintage and some not. My favorites are actually plain cornflower blue ones I bought at the grocery store for a couple of euros apiece. They’re a great size for soups and Texas chili, but I also put oatmeal and yogurt in them.

Then I discovered shallow bowls with sides of about 2 inches. A cross between a pasta bowl and a dinner plate, these bowls have become my go-to for just about everything that’s not a chunky bowl-centric meal, from salads and lentils to Asian food.

If given the choice, I will choose to eat out of a bowl over a plate every time. To me, bowls are just more comforting. They’re like the homemade quilts of dinnerware, perfect for snuggling up with when it’s cold outside.

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CRISPY CHICKEN BURRITO BOWL

Makes 4 servings

1/3 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2)

1 cup buttermilk

2 cups Doritos crumbs (about 5 ounces)

3 tablespoons chile powder

1 teaspoon cumin

4 cups cooked brown rice

2 cups black beans

2 cups corn

Lime-cilantro yogurt, recipe follows

Lime wedges, for serving

Chopped cilantro, for serving

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees and line a cookie sheet with foil (for easy clean-up).

2. Put the chicken breasts in a heavy-duty plastic bag and, using a rolling pin, pound them down until they’re even and flat (about 1/4 inch thick). Remove chicken from the bag and cut into 1-inch-wide strips, then into 2-inch pieces.

3. Place chicken pieces in a bowl and pour the buttermilk over them.

4. Mix the Doritos crumbs, chile powder and cumin in a shallow bowl.

5. Put a few chicken pieces at a time into the Doritos-chile mixture, tossing to make sure they are well covered, then lay out on a cookie sheet. Work in batches until all are coated.

6. Bake for 13 minutes.

7. While the chicken’s cooking, warm the rice, beans and corn in separate saucepans, or in the microwave.

8. Take the chicken out of the oven and let it rest 3 or 4 minutes while you assemble the bowls. In each bowl, layer: 1 cup of brown rice, 1/2 cup of black beans, 1/2 cup of corn. Now add 1/4 of the chicken. Drizzle some of the lime-cilantro yogurt on top, or serve on the side, along with lime wedges and chopped fresh cilantro.

LIME-CILANTRO YOGURT

Makes 4 servings

11 ounces Greek yogurt

A big handful of fresh cilantro

1 clove garlic

Juice of 1 lime (about a teaspoon)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Pinch sea salt

Put all of the ingredients in your food processor and puree. Taste and adjust for seasonings. This is best when refrigerated for a half-hour to an hour before serving.

Nutritional analysis per serving with lime-cilantro yogurt: 757 calories, 21 g fat, 115 g carbohydrates, 32 g protein, 29 mg cholesterol, 463 mg sodium, 17 g dietary fiber, 29 percent of calories from fat.

Nutritional analysis per serving without lime-cilantro yogurt: 674 calories, 16 g fat, 109 g carbohydrates, 28 g protein, 24 mg cholesterol, 377 mg sodium, 17 g dietary fiber, 21 percent of calories from fat.

Nutritional analysis per serving of lime-cilantro yogurt: 83 calories, 5 g fat, 6 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein, 5 mg cholesterol, 86 mg sodium, trace dietary fiber, 49 percent of calories from fat.

ASIAN TOFU AND VEGGIE STIR-FRY

Makes 2 servings

3 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons fresh ginger

1 Thai chile

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 to 3 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons peanut oil

8 ounces firm tofu, cut into cubes

4 to 6 heads baby bok choy, leaves separated and well rinsed

4 carrots, peeled and shredded with peeler

4 cups cooked brown rice

2 green onions, chopped

Lime wedges, for serving

1. Make the stir-fry sauce. Put the garlic, ginger, Thai chile, soy sauce, fish sauce, honey and lime juice in a blender or baby Cuisinart and blend. Set this aside.

2. Put the peanut oil in a wok or skillet and turn the heat to high. When the oil is hot, add the tofu and fry until browned on all sides. Remove and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

3. Pour off the rest of the oil and add the bok choy and carrots to the wok along with about 2 tablespoons of the sauce. Stir-fry until the bok choy wilts, add the tofu, and the rest of the sauce. Toss and divide between two shallow bowls with 2 cups of cooked rice on the bottom. Garnish with chopped green onions and lime wedges.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 861 calories, 25 g fat, 142 g carbohydrates, 24 g protein, 2 mg cholesterol, 2,217 mg sodium, 14 g dietary fiber, 25 percent of calories from fat.

— Inspired by a recipe from Pinch of Yum website

FALAFEL SALAD WITH HARISSA DRESSING

Makes 2 servings

This is a salad version of my favorite way to eat falafel, which is stuffed in a pita with spicy yogurt. Here, the recipe makes about 16 to 20 falafel patties, so you’ll have plenty of leftovers.

11 ounces Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons harissa

2 large pitas, torn into small pieces

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Sea salt and pepper

1 14-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 clove of garlic

1 shallot

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

A small handful cilantro, stems included

Arugula, for serving

Sumac, for serving (optional, see note)

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Make the dressing by whisking together the Greek yogurt and harissa and placing in the fridge until ready to serve.

2. Toss the pita pieces with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a big pinch of sea salt and pepper. Lay out on a cookie sheet and bake until crispy, 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Put the remaining ingredients (except the arugula and sumac) in the food processor or blender and pulse until combined.

4. Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, flat skillet over medium-high heat, and when it’s ready, scoop balls of falafel into the hot skillet. Brown on both sides and lay on a paper-towel-lined plate.

5. Assemble the salads by putting a handful of arugula into each bowl and top with three or four falafels, some pita chip croutons and a spoonful or two of the dressing. If you have sumac, sprinkle on top.

Note: Sumac is a tangy, bright Middle Eastern spice, and I use it to add color (it’s red), as well as additional zest. If you don’t have any, you can skip it or sprinkle a little paprika on top instead.

Cowgirl tip: Freeze the leftover falafels. To reheat, let them thaw and simply warm through in a skillet using about a tablespoon of olive oil.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 772 calories, 33 g fat, 95 g carbohydrates, 25 g protein, 10 mg cholesterol, 1,905 mg sodium, 11 g dietary fiber, 38 percent of calories from fat.

WARM TUNA AND WHITE BEAN BREAD SALAD

Makes 2 servings

This is a winter version of an Italian summer salad, and it works just as well warm as it does cold. Be sure and use the best tuna you can find, one packed in olive oil. A moist, flavorful tuna will make all the difference.

3 cups torn pieces of stale bread (about 1/2 of a baguette)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 (5.6-ounce) can tuna in olive oil

4 or 5 large basil leaves, torn

1 shallot, minced

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 teaspoon capers

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 (14-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the bread pieces with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and spread on a cookie sheet. Bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Pour into a bowl to cool.

2. Pour a couple of tablespoons of olive oil from the tuna can into a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the basil leaves and shallot and cook until you can smell them both, about 3 or 4 minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes, capers and red pepper flakes, and cook until the tomatoes begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

4. Add the tuna and gently break it up with the back of a wooden spoon (I like to leave some larger pieces). Add the beans and let them warm through, too.

5. Add the red wine vinegar to the skillet and stir in.

6. Pour mixture into the bowl with the croutons, toss and serve right away. Garnish with additional basil leaves if you’d like.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 709 calories, 23 g fat, 81 g carbohydrates, 44 g protein, 14 mg cholesterol, 699 mg sodium, 11 g dietary fiber, 29 percent of calories from fat.

 

 


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