3 recipes that will bowl you over at breakfast, lunch and dinner

3 recipes that will bowl you over at breakfast, lunch and dinner

Bowls. You eat cereal in a bowl. You eat soup in a bowl. But bowl eating is something else entirely. The idea is to use a bowl — playing off the roundness, the curve of the vessel — to layer food into one satisfying meal. Bowls work for morning, noon and night. For instance, you can place a layer of polenta or grits on the bottom of a bowl (think of a blanket of warmth) then add some sautéed greens. Top it off with a poached egg and you’ve got a breakfast bowl. And for lunch, spiced chicken lime slaw, pickled radishes, crumbled cheese and warm tortillas. For dinner, a bowl of  brown rice topped off with oven-roasted salmon, roasted fennel and radicchio with a simple ginger-soy-vinegar sauce.

Bowls are highly adaptive and interactive. For instance, you can mix and match any of the elements from these bowls. The breakfast polenta and egg bowl would work well with brown rice instead of polenta and you could add the pickled radishes. The salmon bowl would be delicious with the polenta and slaw, etc. The idea is to play around, adding ingredients you have on hand, and layering colors, textures and flavors.

The basic formula for bowl eating is to choose a base (rice, polenta, pasta, orzo, cabbage slaw, sauteed greens, etc) topped with a protein or roasted or sautéed or stir-fried vegetables, a quick sauce or sprinkle of cheese and maybe a pickled vegetable like carrot, radish or green beans. Each of these recipes provides many topping ideas as well as several variations.

Breakfast: Polenta and poached egg bowl with kale

You can use polenta or grits as the base of this breakfast bowl. You could also heat up leftover cooked brown or white rice. Poach the eggs at the last minute, or fry them in olive oil. Very flexible. Serve with warm crusty bread.

Serves 2 to 4.


3 recipes that will bowl you over at breakfast, lunch and dinner
Polenta and poached egg bowl with kale. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

The polenta:

  • 3 cups water
  • A heavy pinch of salt, about ¼ teaspoon
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

The eggs and kale:

  • 1 ½ to 4 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • ½ pound kale, spinach or Swiss chard, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 4 eggs

Optional toppings:

  • Hot sauce or chili flakes
  • Avocado slices
  • Greek yogurt or sour cream


  1. Make the polenta: In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the salt and stir in the polenta, stirring frequently. Reduce to low heat and cook, stirring to avoid clumping, for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter or oil and pepper to taste. Cover and let sit for 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, sauté the kale: In a large skillet, heat 1 ½ tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the kale and cook, stirring occasionally, about 12 to 15 minutes, or until wilted and just tender. Season with salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste.
  3. To poach eggs: Fill a medium pot or saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low to a gentle simmer. Crack eggs into a bowl, one at a time, and very gently slide them into the simmering water. Cook eggs for 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon.
  4. To fry the eggs: Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Crack the eggs into the skillet, being careful not to let them overlap or touch too much and cook for about 3 minutes, basting with the oil by tipping the skillet slightly to gain access to the oil; cook until the whites.  For over-easy eggs, gently flip the eggs, and cook another minute, if desired.
  5. To assemble bowls: Divide the polenta between 2 large or 4 smaller bowls. Top with some kale and then one or two eggs. Top with hot sauce and any or all of the toppings. Serve hot.

Lunch: Spiced chicken, lime slaw, pickled radishes and warm tortillas

Spiced chicken, lime slaw, pickled radishes and warm tortillas. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)
Spiced chicken, lime slaw, pickled radishes and warm tortillas. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

The flavors in this bowl are bright and reminiscent of a good taco. A very simple slaw made of shredded red cabbage, grated carrots, scallions and lime forms the base. Chicken thighs marinated in lime juice, cumin, cinnamon and chili flakes are sautéed over high heat and then sliced and placed on top of the slaw. Quick-pickled radishes go on the side, and crumbled feta, cotija or goat cheese on top. You can also add a lime crema (see recipe below) on top or on the side. Serve with warm corn or flour tortillas.

Serves 2 main course portions or 4 lunch or smaller bowls.


The quick-pickled radishes:

  • 1 small bunch of radishes, about 8, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup cider vinegar, or white wine vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 3 peppercorns

The spiced chicken:

  • 1 pound boneless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Dash chili flakes or hot pepper sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

The slaw:

  • 1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, grated on the largest opening of a cheese grater
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • Juice of 1 large lime, about 2 tablespoons
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional toppings and accompaniments:

  • 4 to 8 flour or corn tortillas
  • ½ cup crumbled feta, cotija or goat cheese
  • Fresh cilantro sprigs
  • Lime crema (½ cup sour cream mixed with ½ teaspoon grated lime zest and 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice)
  • Avocado slices


  1. Pickle the radishes: Place radishes in a medium jar. In a small non-reactive saucepan, heat the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and peppercorns and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and cook, stirring, until sugar and salt are dissolved, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour over radishes. Cover the jar and let sit for 1 hour or refrigerate for up to a week.
  2. Marinate the chicken: Place the chicken in a bowl and toss with the lime juice, lime zest, cinnamon, cumin, chili flakes, and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. Toss to coat on both sides.
  3. Make the slaw: In a medium bowl toss the cabbage, scallions, carrots, oil, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate if making ahead of time.
  4. The recipe can be made 12 hours ahead of time up to this point.
  5. To assemble bowl: Heat a large skillet with 1 ½ tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and any marinade and cook about 6 to 7 minutes per side, until golden brown and cooked through. Remove and cool for 1 minute. Thinly slice the chicken on the diagonal.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place the tortillas in a tea towel and warm for about 5 minutes.
  7. Place 2 large or 4 small bowls on a work counter and divide the slaw between them. Divide the chicken on top of the slaw. Arrange several pickled radishes along the edge of the bowl and top with any or all of the toppings. Serve the warm tortillas on the side.

Dinner: Brown rice, salmon, fennel and radicchio bowl with soy-ginger sauce

You can easily substitute white rice, couscous, or pasta for the brown rice in this dinner bowl.

Serves 2 large main courses.


The brown rice:

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt

The ginger-soy-vinegar sauce:

  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon or Meyer lemon juice

The salmon and vegetables:

  • 1 pound salmon filet, preferably wild
  • 1 fennel bulb, cored and cut into 6 small wedges
  • 1 small head radicchio, cored and cut into 4 wedges
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Optional toppings:

  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 1 avocado, cut into thin slices
  • Black and/or white sesame seeds


  1. Cook the rice: Place the rice in a fine strainer and rinse under cold running water; drain. Bring the water to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the rice and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and let cook for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  2. Make the sauce: In a small bowl mix all the ingredients for the sauce; taste for seasoning. The sauce can be made 24 hours ahead of time.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the salmon, fennel and radicchio on a baking sheet or sheet pan. Drizzle the oil, ginger, scallion, salt and pepper over the fish and vegetables. Bake on the middle shelf for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon. Remove and preheat the broiler. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the sauce on top of the salmon. Place the salmon and vegetables under the broiler for 3 to 4 to minutes. The fish should be almost flaking and the vegetables just tender.
  4. Place the rice on the bottom of 2 large bowls. Top each bowl with half of the salmon and vegetables. Serve with lemon wedges and any or all of the optional toppings.

Find more bowl recipes here.

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