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Getting bowled over

cegoh, Wikimedia Commons

Use meat, vegetables or a combination of both to assemble delicious rice bowls.


When it comes to food served in bowls (usually over cooked rice), everybody seems to have a favorite. I lean toward the Asian types of cuisine, even though I like it all. But you can create your own rice bowls and don’t worry if you can’t exactly connect your creation with any particular culture.

If you like, you can take any of the following recipes and change them at will. I think that’s part of the broad appeal of this type of meal.

Rice bowls make for some fairly easy summertime lunches or dinners (breakfast too), so why not give them a try?

Thai beef bowls

1/2 cup sweet chili sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup lite canned coconut milk

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced

1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter

1 teaspoon-sized knob of ginger, grated

1 lime, juiced

1/2 tablespoon soy sauce

6 ounces beef sirloin, thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 red pepper, thinly sliced

1 zucchini, cut in spirals

1 carrot, cut in spirals

Fresh basil and cilantro, for topping

Lime wedges, for garnish

Chopped peanuts, for topping

1. In a saucepan, combine the chili sauce, vinegar, coconut milk, sugar, garlic, ginger, peanut butter, soy sauce and lime juice, whisking to combine. Cook over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens a bit, about 5 to 6 minutes.

2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Add the oil to the skillet and once it is hot, add the beef and sear until it is just cooked through (or done to your desired liking). Once the beef is finished, drizzle some of the peanut sauce over top.

3. To assemble the bowls, add the spiralized zucchini and carrot into a bowl with the red pepper and brown rice. Top with the beef and the sauce, tossing everything together. Top with the fresh herbs, a spritz of lime and the chopped peanuts.

Mexican fiesta bowl

For the Mexican rice:

2 tablespoons clarified butter or canola oil

1/2 medium sweet onion, diced

2 cups cooked jasmine rice

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or water)

1 can (15-oz.) tomato sauce

For the fiesta bowl:

About 12 ounces fully cooked pork carnitas meat, heated (can be found frozen)

16 ounces frozen roasted corn, heated

About 15 ounces canned black beans, heated and drained

12 ounces Mexican blend cheese

12 ounces guacamole

Salsa (optional)

1. To prepare Mexican rice: In large heavy-bottomed pan or Dutch oven, heat oil until it shimmers. Add onion and saute until softened, about 2 minutes. Add rice, coating all the grains with oil. Stir often, until rice begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Add cumin, salt and garlic and stir about 1 minute until fragrant. Stir in broth and tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer about 15 to 20 minutes or until all liquid absorbs.

2. Assemble bowls with rice, carnitas, corn and black beans. Garnish with cheese, guacamole and salsa.

Vegetarian burrito bowls

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup dry basmati rice


2 cloves garlic, minced

2 15.5-oz. cans black beans, drained, rinsed

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 avocado, pitted, peeled, diced

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen, thawed if frozen

1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered

Sour cream, shredded Cheddar cheese, cilantro leaves, sliced radishes, chopped pickled jalapenos, and tortilla chips, optional

1. Warm 1 tablespoon oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add rice and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until water is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Warm remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in 1/2 cup water, beans, chili powder and cumin. Bring to a simmer and cook until most of liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring once or twice. Season lightly with salt.

3. Combine avocado and lime juice in a medium bowl. Divide rice among 4 bowls. Top with bean mixture, corn, tomatoes and avocado mixture. Serve with garnishes and chips on the side, if desired.

Grilled teriyaki chicken bowls

I like to add green onions to this.

For the homemade teriyaki sauce:

Low-sodium soy sauce


Light brown sugar




Rice vinegar


For the bowls:

Olive oil

Chicken breasts

Red bell pepper, sliced or diced

Zucchini, sliced or diced

Matchstick carrots

Broccoli, cut in small pieces

Cooked rice, for serving

Sesame seeds, optional

1. Whisk together teriyaki sauce ingredients in small saucepan and cook until thickened slightly.

2. Grill chicken until cooked through, then cube. Saute bell pepper, zucchini, carrots and broccoli in an oiled skillet until crisp-tender.

3. Assemble bowls: add rice to bottom of bowl, follow by veggies and grilled chicken pieces. Drizzle with homemade teriyaki and garnish with sesame seeds, if using.

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