Cooking For One: Veggie Bowls (PLUS a fabulous sauce formula PLUS Romanesco cauliflower photos!)

November 11, 2009

To all our lovely readers,


It’s been a while since I’ve written a “Cooking For One” post, even though I’ve been spending the last several months doing precisely that—cooking for one (namely me). Part of the reason is that I’m still not that good at. But I’m learning, and today I want to share with y’all what has become one my stand-by dinners. It’s simple, nutritious, and tasty! I call it a veggie bowl.

Veggie bowls, for me, consist of three parts, or levels if you will. You’ve got your bottom level grain, your middle level veggies, and your top level sauce. There’s lots of choices within these categories—that’s why veggie bowls are so much fun! Today I’m going to share with you just one example, step by step.

Step 1: The Grain

The grain is typically the first place you should start, as it will take the longest to cook. There are lots of grains that make for good veggie bowls; some of my favorites are couscous, quinoa, and amaranth. I’m looking forward to trying some other grains like bulgar and buckwheat in the future, and you should just use whatever you like and feel comfortable making. Whichever grain you choose, I recommend using about 1/2 cup dry; this seems to make the perfect amount when cooked, at least if you’re a hungry boy like me!

So, the short story: Cook 1/2 cup grain of your choice (dry) according to grain’s cooking instructions.

Step 2: The Veggies

While your grain is cooking, you have time to cook up your vegetables. Now really any vegetable is fair game for a veggie bowl, but as far as cooking goes, I like to break my vegetables into two categories: steaming vegetables and sauteing vegetables. Steaming veggies include things like broccoli, green beans, and cauliflower; sauteing vegetables include things like onions, greens, and so on. The choice is up to you!

As for cooking your veggies, I like to start with the steaming vegetables. Here’s my super easy guide to cooking your veggies.

1. Cut your vegetables into bite sized pieces.

2. Fill a large pan with approximately 1/4″ of water and bring to a boil.


3. Toss in your veggies and cover the pan.


4. Let cook for one or two minutes, turning vegetables over once or twice if needed, until vegetables look done and can be readily pierced by a fork.


5. Empty vegetables into a strainer and run over a little bit of cold water, to stop any further cooking.


6. Return your emptied pan back to the stove, add some oil, and saute your sauteing vegetables (this time I used baby bok choy!).


And that’s all there is to cooking your vegetables! If done right, this whole process can take less than five minutes (maybe a little more depending on how long it takes you to cut up your veggies).

Step 3: The Sauce

Last but not least, a good veggie bowl needs a good sauce. There are many options here as well. I’m particularly fond of a certain Spicy Garlic Sauce in Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard’s How It All Vegan! (an excellent cookbook), but today I want to share with you a nut butter sauce inspired by a recipe in 3 Bowls (another, perhaps even more excellent cookbook). The great thing about this sauce is that it only involves three ingredients, requires no cooking, and thus takes all of a minute to prepare. Oh, and it’s also delicious. Now normally I would be loathe to post a recipe from a published book on this blog, but (a) I have changed the proportions and overall amount of the recipe, and (b) this is nowhere near complicated enough to count as a bona fide recipe in my opinion.

MAN (Miso-Agave-Nutbutter) Sauce



  • 1 tbsp (white) miso
  • 2 tbsp nut butter (your choice)
  • 1 tsp agave nectar (or honey)
  • 3 tbsp water


  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl until smooth
  2. That’s the only step.

So there you go! A super simple and—if you make, you’ll see—super delicious sauce!

Step 4: The Combination

You now have all you need to put together your veggie bowl. I like to take the biggest bowl I can find, put all my grain on the bottom, cover that with all my veggies, and then lather my sauce on top. Here’s my final product:


You, of course, can mix it up. That’s the beauty of veggie bowls—it’s a simple formula that’s easily adaptable to whatever is in your fridge/available at your grocer and that’s always a breeze to make, however you do it. And this makes a perfect meal for someone cooking for one—and especially for people with busy schedules like me.

One final thing to share: Today I had the pleasure of picking up a Romanesco cauliflower to use in the night’s veggie bowl. Now, I have to admit, my pleasure was mostly aesthetic—but how can you blame me when a vegetable contains so much fractal-y goodness? So in closing, I leave you with some photos to admire. (Click for larger versions.)





Ah, the simple joys of nature.

Until we eat again,


P.S. I was not very impressed by the taste of this Romanesco cauliflower, unfortunately. But I still love looking at it.

P.P.S. Did I mention that I’m leaving for NYC Wednesday night?? Expect an exciting blog post in a few days!



  1. Dude. That cauliflower looks the surface of another planet or something… eerie!

  2. […] This was my first time making this funny-looking grain. I hate hate hated the smell of it while it’s cooking (it was like seaweed), but I was pleased to discover that the taste carried none of its olfactory aromas. In fact, this rice was really delicious! And it provided the perfect foundation for one my classic Veggie Bowls: […]

  3. […] Along with this soup I also made one of my classic Veggie Bowls… […]

  4. […] is just a bowl of steamed green beans and broccoli, topped with a Korean twist on my classic MAN (Miso-Agave-Nutbutter) Sauce. All I did was sub in gochujang for the miso, and voila!—a delicious “GAN Sauce” […]

  5. […] a sort of reverence for the pure majesty of nature’s inner workings (just consider the romanesco cauliflower, for instance). And that’s more or less what I felt when looked at the above green. (Yep, I […]

  6. […] Though actually, I should point out that I did not in fact use zucchini when I made this dish, because it’s late August in Ontario, and as far as I can tell from my local farmers’ market, late August in Ontario seems to be the season of wacky looking summer squashes, and so I used this wacky looking summer squash in lieu of some less wacky zucchini (what can I say, sometimes I just buy vegetables that look neat): […]

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