Buddha Bowls are loaded with grains, vegetables, vegetarian proteins, nuts, seeds, herbs, greens - so many choices! They're healthy, filling, and beautiful! Enjoy the season's freshest veggies in your very own Spring Buddha Bowl.
When it’s cold and dreary outside, there’s no better comfort food than something steamy and thick, like soup and chili. But when beautiful spring and summer weather arrives, I crave crispy vegetables in bright colors … and lots of them.
So, let’s welcome spring with a big Buddha Bowl full of the season’s tastiest veggies, like crunchy carrots (orange and red!), peppery radishes, smooth avocados, and fresh sprouts. We pile them in a bowl with quinoa and sweet potatoes, and top it all with hemp seeds and a lemon miso dressing. Hearty, delicious, and refreshingly spring-like.
What is a Buddha Bowl?
While there’s no general consensus about the origin of the term Buddha Bowl, I think we can agree that it’s a pretty nifty descriptor: a bowl filled with healthy ingredients, mounded above the rim like the round belly of a Buddha.
Buddha Bowls are usually vegetarian — vegan, in fact — but if you’ve seen any one of the thousands of images on Pinterest, lol, you’ll have noticed that sometimes chicken or salmon sneak in. The choice is yours, of course, but a Buddha Bowl is the perfect way to get more vegetables into your family’s daily diet.
How to make a Buddha Bowl?
Buddha bowls are wonderfully versatile, and they’re as easy to make as you need them to be. Here are some ingredient ideas for your own version of your Buddha Bowl:
- Grains: the foundation of a Buddha Bowl is grains or pseudo-grains. I love quinoa, but rice is a popular option, too. If your family is on the fence about brown rice, a Buddha Bowl is a great way to help them get over the hurdle of this hearty, nutty flavored rice. When I cook up rice or quinoa, I always make extra so that a Buddha Bowl dinner is just 15 stress-relieving minutes away. Both rice and quinoa freeze beautifully, btw.
- Vegetable proteins: for a belly-filling dish, load up on the veggie proteins, like beans, edamame, tofu, tempeh, lentils, chickpeas. Not only are they good for you, but they provide a nice “chew” that makes it easier for the peeps to forget that this beautiful Buddha Bowl is vegan.
- Raw/cooked vegetables: vegetables really shine in a Buddha Bowl, and it’s the perfect opportunity to get more veggies in your meals. Most of my Buddha Bowls include pan-sauteed sweet potatoes, because I can’t get enough of those little darlings! (In the photos in this post, the purple cubes are cooked sweet potatoes.) Choose the veggies your family loves, but also try changing things up and introducing something new-to-them. Then, if they don’t like it, the entire dish isn’t a bust, because there are so many other bites to enjoy. Try bell pepper strips, chopped cherry tomatoes, broccoli or cauliflower florets, sliced carrots, scallions, cucumbers, zucchini. The pink slices in these photos are watermelon radishes — so pretty in pink!
- Green/herbs: you don’t need to turn a Buddha Bowl into a salad, but a little bit of green adds great nutrition, as well as a pretty presentation. If I have homegrown sprouts on hand (which I often do, because I’m a gardening nerd), these super nutritious little greens are both tasty and beautiful as a garnish. Here, I used radish sprouts, because we’ve got a distinctly radish theme going on in this spring Buddha Bowl, lol. I put herbs in just about everything, especially ni the summer, when my herb garden is busting out in green. Try dill, basil, cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, tarragon, or marjoram — all vegetable-friendly!
- Seeds/nuts: For interesting texture and extra protein nutrition, top your bowl with nuts and seeds, such as sliced almonds, pistachios, chia seeds, pepitas, or hemp seeds. I love the crunch of almonds and hemp seeds.
- Dressing: the choices are endless. Get creative: think creamy richness with tahini and miso. Or summery with a cilantro, serrano, olive oil combo. Or my go-to lemon miso dressing, which I always have stashed in the fridge for summer salads.
Buddha Bowls are satisfying and nutritious, but one of the things I love most about them is that they’re just beautiful. As the cliche goes, first we eat with our eyes, and it’s impossible to look at this bowl and not want to dig right in.
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon white wine or champagne vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon white miso (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon prepared Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon minced shallots
- 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cup cooked quinoa
- juice from 1/2 lime
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- pinch of salt
- 3 cups of your favorite raw and cooked veggies (see notes), sliced or chopped
- 1 palmful radish or broccoli sprouts
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
Add all of the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Dressing can be made ahead and stashed in the fridge.
In a small bowl, toss the quinoa with the lime juice, cilantro, and salt. Divide the quinoa between two bowls.
Toss your vegetables and sprouts with the dill, then divide between the two bowls.
Top the Buddha Bowls with a sprinkling of hemp seeds, and drizzle with the dressing.
- White miso is wonderfully mild and slightly sweet. Before purchasing, check the label for fish ingredients, if you want the salad to be vegetarian. Many misos are made with dashi or bonito (shrimp flakes). Seaweed vegetables are vegetarian. My favorite miso is made by an American company, South River Miso, located in Massachusetts.
- Use your favorite veggies and preparations here. It's a great way to clean out your vegetable drawer. Don't hesitate to mix raw vegetables with cooked: my bowl included raw sprouts, avocado, carrots and radishes, and pan sauteed sweet potatoes. It creates great texture!
- If your dressing seems grainy from the miso, run the dressing through with a stick blender, a regular blender, or a bullet blender to smooth out.
- If you make the dressing ahead, note that evoo might solidify in the fridge. It's not at all harmful to the dressing, just let it come up to room temperature before using (or rest the jar in a bowl of very warm water from the tap until it liquifies, then whisk). You can also substitute a neutral oil, such as grapeseed.