Rice and noodle bowls are a smart vehicle for a choose-your-own-adventure dinner. Pair our base and sauce recipes with your favorite toppings for countless combinations. And everyone at the table will be… Bowled Over.

By Nichole Aksamit
Allrecipes

How to Build a Bowl

Pick a base, select a sauce, and add your favorite toppings

Bases

The bowls in this story showcase our Savory Coconut Rice, Yummy Korean Glass Noodles, and Garlic-Kale Quinoa recipes, but lots of things make good bases. Try other cooked pastas or grains; fresh chopped kale, romaine, or cabbage; cooked zoodles (zucchini noodles); or even roasted potatoes or cauliflower.

Sauces

Try our recipes for Chef John’s Chimichurri Sauce, Surprising and Spicy Peanut Sauce, or Tasty Tahini Dressing. Or dress up your base and toppings with prepared salsa, hot sauce, hoisin, soy sauce, or your favorite salad dressing.

Toppings

  • For protein: Try stir-fried tofu or grilled chicken, shrimp, pork, or steak—tossed with, drizzled with, or warmed in your sauce of choice.
  • For veg: Try raw or roasted veggies; canned beans; chopped tomatoes, olives, or cucumbers; or sliced carrots, radishes, or avocados.
  • For garnish: Try fresh herbs, edible flowers, raw onion, toasted nuts, sesame seeds, coconut flakes, or a squeeze of lime.

9 Build-Your-Own Bowl Recipes to Try

1. Chimichurri Steak Rice Bowls

Divide Savory Coconut Rice among 4 large bowls. Top each with ½ cup grilled steak slices and ½ cup sautéed bell pepper and onion slices. Drizzle each bowl with 1 to 2 tablespoons Chef John’s Chimichurri Sauce and, if desired, crushed red pepper. Serves 4

2. Chimichurri Cauliflower and Shrimp Rice Bowls

Divide Savory Coconut Rice among 4 large bowls. Top each with ½ cup sautéed shrimp and ½ cup roasted cauliflower florets. Drizzle each bowl with 1 to 2 tablespoons Chef John’s Chimichurri Sauce. Serve with lime wedges. Serves 4

3. Chimichurri Chicken Rice Bowls

Divide Savory Coconut Rice among 4 large bowls. Top each with ½ cup sliced grilled chicken, ¼ cup chopped tomatoes, and several avocado slices. Drizzle each bowl with 1 to 2 tablespoons Chef John’s Chimichurri Sauce. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro. Serves 4

4. Mediterranean Shrimp Quinoa Bowls

Divide Garlic-Kale Quinoa among 4 large bowls. Divide 2 cups sautéed or grilled shrimp, 1/2 cup chopped pitted Greek olives, and 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil among bowls. Drizzle each with 2 tablespoons Tasty Tahini Dressing. Top with toasted pine nuts. Serves 4

5. Chicken And Chickpea Quinoa Bowls

Divide Garlic-Kale Quinoa among 4 large bowls. Divide 1½ cups pulled rotisserie chicken, 1 drained (15-ounce) can chickpeas, and ½ cup very thinly sliced red onion among bowls. Drizzle each with 2 tablespoons Tasty Tahini Dressing. Garnish with fresh parsley leaves and sprinkle with black pepper. Serves 4

6. Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Quinoa Bowls

Divide Garlic-Kale Quinoa among 4 large bowls. Divide 12 ounces flaked smoked salmon, 11/2 cups sliced or chopped cucumber, and ½ cup very thinly sliced red onion among bowls. Drizzle each with 2 tablespoons Tasty Tahini Dressing. Garnish with fresh dill leaves and sprinkle with black pepper. Serves 4

7. Chicken and Broccoli Korean Noodle Bowls

Divide Yummy Korean Glass Noodles among 4 large bowls. Stir-fry 2 cups sliced chicken breast in oil with 1 cup broccoli florets and 1 cup sliced red bell pepper. Stir in 1⅓ cups Surprising and Spicy Peanut Sauce. Divide chicken-veggie mixture among bowls. Garnish with more sauce, thinly sliced green onion, and sesame seeds. Serves 4

8. Peanut and Veggie Korean Noodle Bowls

Divide Yummy Korean Glass Noodles among 4 large bowls. Cut a drained 12-ounce package extra-firm tofu into 1-inch cubes, then brown in oil. Remove from skillet. Stir-fry 11/2 cups thinly sliced sugar snap or snow peas and 11/2 cups matchstick-cut carrots in oil. Toss tofu and veggies with 1⅓ cups Surprising and Spicy Peanut Sauce. Divide tofu-veggie mixture among bowls. Garnish with more sauce and dry-roasted peanuts. Serves 4

9. Beef and Basil Korean Noodle Bowls

Divide Yummy Korean Glass Noodles among 4 large bowls. Stir-fry 1 pound thinly sliced steak in oil with 2 cups diagonally sliced bok choy. Stir in 1⅓ cups Surprising

and Spicy Peanut Sauce. Divide steak-veggie mixture among bowls. Garnish with more sauce and thinly sliced fresh basil. Serves 4

Recipes for the Bowl Ingredients

Savory Coconut Rice

Chef John’s Chimichurri Sauce

Don’t Cook the Sauce: The fresh herbs in chimichurri can turn brown if cooked, so it’s best to use this sauce as a dip or drizzle for things that are already cooked.

Garlic-Kale Quinoa

Tasty Tahini Dressing

Yummy Korean Glass Noodles (Jap Chae)

Other Noodle Options: In place of softened sweet potato vermicelli, you can substitute 12 to 16 ounces  of wheat or rice vermicelli, prepared according to package directions, or a pound of zoodles (zucchini noodles), sautéed until tender.

Surprising and Spicy Peanut Sauce

This article originally appeared in the April/May 2018 issue of Allrecipes Magazine.

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