They say you find inspiration in the strangest of places. And after a week in California, I did not expect to find one of the most delightful, satisfying grain bowls on my way out of the state: at the United Lounge at LAX.
Because of my high Amtrak status (it’s a thing) – and my Dad’s United credit card, we’ve been privileged to frequent lounges for years, but never have I seen such a spread. I’m not sure when this revelation happened, since I had been in the exact same spot a month before and walked past the sad looking trays of cheese and wilted vegetables in favor of the complimentary prosecco at the bar. But on this particular day before New Year’s Eve, it had. Multiple choices of grains, a wide range of toppings that included roasted root vegetables, guacamole and feta. There was a miso soup or noodle bar with displayed furikake seasoning, toasted coconut and scallions. I filled my bowl up with glee, excited by the range of flavors and texted that would hopefully meld together.
And meld it did. It was delicious — my whole family sat there devouring the bowls and uncharacteristically for all us, returned for seconds. I was determined to recreate this seemingly easy to make grain bowl at home.
After looking on New York Times Cooking for additional guidance, I found a recipe for Farro Broccoli Bowl with Lemony Tahini. Wanting to use the ingredients I already had on hand, I decided to swap out the farro with multi-colored quinoa, and sub the broccoli with sweet potatoes.
To keep in line with the Asian flavor profile, I decided to coat the sweet potatoes in olive oil and organic white miso, which I had recently picked up from Japan Village in Brooklyn. I roasted them in the oven at 425° for approximately 30 minutes, flipping about 20 minutes in. I followed the Times’ recipe for the Lemony Tahini Dressing, and set that aside while the quinoa finished cooking.
Then I just assembled. I used butter lettuce and radicchio on the bottom, topped with the quinoa, sweet potatoes (which turned out amazing), fresh French feta (I find French to be a little sweeter than Greek), sunflower seeds, toasted coconut, drizzled with the tahini dressing and sprinkled furikake seasoning on top (this time around, I left off the soft boiled egg).
It’s super easy, incredibly satisfying, and a hearty lunch or great dinner if you add the egg and perhaps some protein — I imagine shredded roast chicken would be great on this.