If you read my last post, you’d know that I’m on a mission to get everyone on board the nourish-bowl-train. Nourish bowls are essentially a combination of flavors, textures and nutrients focusing on nourishing, plant-based ingredients.
My last post featured a quick and simple savory quinoa pilaf, one of my favorite starts to any nourish bowl. This recipe utilizes my tasty, make-ahead-friendly quinoa as its base – and it only gets more delicious from there. Baby spinach & steamed green beans add the fresh produce element. And then comes the goodies. You know, the rich & flavorful elements that make grain bowls worth eating. For this bowl, these include a simple roasted cherry tomato sauce (more like a purée), perfectly seared halloumi cheese and sunflower seeds I bought already roasted & salted. A squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of finishing salt, and this bad bowl is ready to go.
Meals like this are my favorite way to eat – not only because they’re balanced, healthy and delicious – but also because they’re easy to prep ahead of time, plus they taste great warm, cold or at room temperature. If you have the quinoa and cherry tomato sauce ready to go in the fridge, a weeknight dinner is as easy as steaming green beans and searing halloumi cheese. And because you were smart, and made a big batch of cherry tomato sauce and a big batch of quinoa, other meals throughout the week are also half-prepped (maybe an Asian stir fry one night with quinoa and homemade pizza with the sauce).
Now let’s take a minute to focus on this particular bowl and some of it’s healthful & body-loving ingredients…
Quinoa is an all-star in my mind because it’s what’s called a “complete protein.” This just means that quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and essential amino acids (EAA) are those that the body needs but cannot produce on its own, and therefor must be ingested through food. Vegetarians and vegans can get all nine essential amino acids by combining different foods with different amino acid contents, or simply by eating complete protein sources like quinoa.
Baby Spinach is a great source of vitamin-A. Vitamin-A is known to support the immune system, healthy skin, eyesight and normal organ function. I like to add some raw produce elements, like with this baby spinach, because there are health benefits associated with raw fruits and veggies. Enzymes, for example, are more concentrated in raw foods. Enzymes are essential for many biochemical reactions in the body including digestion, nutrient absorption, detoxification and energy production. Additionally, raw foods provide hydration, which is important for many reasons, including beautiful, glowing skin.
Sunflower Seeds are one of my favorite snacks – they are rich in flavor, have a delightfully crunchy and are uber \health-supportive. Because they are high in vitamin-E, sunflower seeds are super-stars at neutralizing free-radicals. What are free-radicals? According to Dr. Lauri Wright they are “waste products from various chemical reactions in the cell that when built up, harm the cells of the body.” It’s important to eat antioxidant-rich foods like sunflower seeds in order to keep the potentially harmful free radicals in check. Excessive amounts of free radicals have been linked to diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Quinoa Nourish Bowls with Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce & Seared Halloumi
Servings: 4 Start to Finish: 35-45 minutes
For Savory Quinoa (get the recipe here)
1 cup quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt, divided
For Cherry Tomato Sauce
2 pints cherry tomatoes
1 yellow onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt, fine grain
seasoned with 1/4 tsp salt
25-35 minutes, 400 degrees
For Green Beans
1/2 pound trimmed green beans (I like French green beans, aka haricot verts)
water for steaming
8 oz halloumi cheese, sliced into 1/4″ slices (approx.)
2 packed cups baby spinach
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Toss tomato sauce ingredients together. Spread onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast until cherry tomatoes are bursting and starting to char, 15-25 minutes, tossing once during roasting.
When tomatoes/onion/garlic are finished, purée until a chunky sauce forms. I do this in an immersion blender. Add salt to taste.
While tomatoes roast, make quinoa pilaf. Cook quinoa according to package instructions (1 cup quinoa + 2 cups water + 1/4 teaspoons salt). While quinoa cooks, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet. Add diced onion & 1/2 teaspoon salt, cooking until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, cook for 2 minutes. When quinoa is finished cooking, stir onion/garlic mixture into quinoa. Rinse out pan to re-use for searing halloumi. Season quinoa mixture with salt to taste.
Sear halloumi cheese. Coat the bottom of the small skillet with a thin layer of olive oil and heat over medium-high. When oil is hot, add halloumi slices in a single layer. When the bottoms turns golden, flip cheese slices to brown the second side. Sear halloumi in multiple batches if necessary. Should take 1-3 minutes per side, keep an eye on them, cooking time varies.
While preparing cheese, steam trimmed green beans to desired tenderness, 4-6 minutes. Or leave them raw, I love raw green beans! Cut beans into thirds.
To assemble bowls, add 1/4 of the cooked quinoa to each bowl. Top with some tomato sauce and 1/4 of the seared halloumi slices. Pile baby spinach leaves to the side of the quinoa. Top each bowl with green beans and 1 tbs sunflower seeds. Serve with lemon wedges.