Late Winter Buddha Bowl

February 29, 2016

For many of you in the Northern Hemisphere, it's more like early spring - considering that it was -30C here today, I'm going with late winter instead.

We started fostering a kitten this week! Her name is Milo, and she's the cutest. Milo likes to play (she's playing with a pen she stole as I write this) and I have the scratch marks on my hands to prove it. We rescued her from the pound. There's a no-kill shelter in town, but they're often full, and any animals that go to the pound are euthanized if there isn't space at the shelter. Milo was scheduled to be put down, and I'm so happy she's with us now. We're caring for and socializing her a little bit before she's adopted. I don't think she'll be living with us too long, she's too cute. That's the best picture I've been able to get of her so far - she never stops moving! Rocket cat.

Let's talk about this recipe. If you like comforting, low effort meals, this is for you. The sweet potato, broccoli, and onions are chopped, tossed with some oil and spices, and then roasted in the oven while you put your feet up. The garlic is roasted with the other vegetables, and the lentils can be cooked ahead of time, or while the vegetables are in the oven. If you're not a big fan of lentil salad (ahem, Graham) you could have this with something like refried beans or a poached egg instead. I love lentils. I think I lack the empathy to understand why anyone wouldn't like lentils.

I've topped this bowl with a dressing made from roasted garlic, olive oil, and lemon, then served it with dates and pistachios. Textures, baby. Even if you don't use those extra additions, the contrast of the chewy lentils, soft sweet potato, and slightly crunchy broccoli is pretty outstanding.

All together, this will take about 40-45 minutes to put together, but requires less than 15 minutes of you needing to be in the actual kitchen time. I recommend using that time for pet snuggles. The ingredient list may seem a little involved, but I've included notes for substitutions you may want to make.

Sorry about the slightly blurry pictures. It was almost completely dark out when I took them.

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Serves two

1 large sweet potato (~2 cups chopped)
2 teaspoons oil*
1 teaspoon ground sumac*
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

1 head of broccoli (~2 cups)
1 small onion (1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

For the dressing:
1 full head of garlic*
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of two lemons
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups cooked french lentils*

Heat the oven to 400F/200C and prepare two baking sheets with oil or parchment paper.

Cut the top part off a head of garlic, leaving the root base intact. Wrap it in tin foil and pop it in the oven now. Leave it in the whole time you're cooking so it can roast up properly.

If you're cooking the lentils now, start them before you begin preparing the vegetables. They'll take about 30 minutes and won't suffer if they're put aside for a few minutes while everything else finishes. Just bring the lentils to a boil with 3 cups of water, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until tender. I don't salt my cooking water for lentils as it increases cooking time.

Wash (or peel) and chop the sweet potato into pieces about 1cm thick and 3cm in width. Add the chopped sweet potato to a large bowl and toss with the oil, sumac, salt, pepper, and hot pepper. Place on a prepared baking sheet in one layer. Put this in the oven now while you prepare the broccoli. The sweet potatoes will take 35-40 minutes to cook.

Wash the broccoli and cut medium-sized florets. I always peel and chop the stem and eat it, too. Slice the onion thinly. Add both to a large bowl (use the same one you used for the potatoes) and mix with the oil, coriander, salt, pepper, and hot pepper. Place this onto the other baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges of the florets are starting to brown.

To make the dressing, squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin. It might be a little hot, but you can let it sit for a few minutes or use the flat side of a knife. It's pretty fun. Mash the garlic with a fork and combine it with the olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Make sure you give it a good stir before pouring it on your bowl.

Assemble the bowl with half of everything for each person, and top with the dressing, a couple dates each, and a scattering of pistachios. Serve warm.

1. I used avocado oil. Try to find a good healthy oil that can stand up to high heat (avoid olive).
2. You can substitute cumin for the sumac and coriander if you don't have any or don't want to use them.
3. A head of garlic probably seems like a whole hell of a lot, but roasting it makes it very mellow and sweet. You won't get stinky breath and heartburn from roasted garlic.
4. Try to find puy or beluga lentils for this, as they keep their shape better than other varieties.
5. You could use carrots or winter squash in place of the sweet potato, and other green vegetables like asparagus or brussels sprouts. The cooking time will change slightly depending on what you use.

P.S. I love seeing your creations! Show me with the tag #occasionallyeggs.

6 comments on "Late Winter Buddha Bowl"
  1. I love the look of this buddha bowl! Those roasted sweet potatoes look so yummy and I really like the idea of adding dates to your bowl. I have some leftover I'm not sure what to do with so I'm gonna give it a shot!

    1. Thanks, Linda! I think I eat roasted sweet potatoes 3+ times a week, ha. Everything's better with dates, right? Yay, let me know how it turns out!

  2. I don't understand why anyone wouldn't LOVE lentils, Alexandra! Rob's not much of a fan either unless they're hidden in something like a soup or mashed with quinoa or mushrooms. They are SO good! My fave are the green or French lentils. Milo is adorable and I love how you are fostering. So important to help out. Shelters are stuffed to the gills here too. It's a problem worldwide especially because so many cats are dumped or are allowed to free roam (including feral cats). Their impact on wildlife is tremendous. As cute and cuddly as they are, they are ferocious hunters. Few people realize that the domestic cat is the #1 invasive species (I'm not blaming the cats, humans created this mess) anywhere. Anyway, hopefully sweet Milo will find a home soon (and he'll be an indoor cat!). I would have a hard time letting him go.. he is soo sweet. Now, this bowl! Just so tasty, nourishing and easy to make! My kind of meal. I could see your magic green sauce on this too, Alexandra! So good!

    1. Ahh, right?! They're the perfect food in every way. Men. Me too, French lentils are by far my favourite - although I like the smoothness of red split lentils sometimes, too. Milo would for sure be upsetting the ecosystem as a feral cat! She is a crazy hunter, and I'm positive she'd be hunting birds in the city. We have indoor/outdoor cats at my parents' farm, but they are deeply spoiled and unsuccessful hunters. They like to watch, but that's about it. Ugh I'm already struggling with the idea of giving Milo up :( Glad you like it, Traci! That green sauce would be great with this, thanks for the idea!

  3. This is so beautiful. I love buddha bowls and making a deliciously warm version like this is perfect for cool days (whether late winter or, like me, heading into the months of autumn). I cannot wait to try your dressing. I've got sweet potato and broccoli in the fridge and might switch up the lentils for the adzuki beans I've got in the cupboard :) Thanks lovely! Perfect inspiration x

    1. I saw that you live in Australia! It is perfect for fall weather, too. I think it'd be great with adzuki beans, I hope you like it!