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Cooking Tips

How Should I Build a Grain Bowl?

Follow our tips for a meal that’s better than takeout.
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Published Jan. 22, 2024.

How do you feel about the concept of grain bowls? Transient fad or timeless dinner staple? 

(In case you don’t know what I mean, I’m talking about meals made popular by fast-casual restaurants where you pile your protein and vegetables over a bowl of cooked grains and then dress it all with a tasty sauce and garnishes. In fact, we have an entire book dedicated to the concept—check it out!)

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10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.

Personally, I’m a big fan. Grain bowls are a satisfying, cohesive meal and a fun way to serve up lots of whole grains and vegetables. One of my favorite versions is this bulgur bowl topped with a savory mixture of roasted cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, red onions, and white beans. It also features a lemony arugula salad for bites of peppery freshness and a spicy yogurt sauce to tie it all together. 

Recipe

Bulgur with Roasted Vegetables, White Beans, and Arugula Salad

Beans and roasted vegetables make this grain bowl hearty enough for dinner.
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But the best thing about this recipe? It’s infinitely customizable. Stick with the basic formula of cooked grains (seasoned well and dressed with olive oil or a little bit of salad dressing) plus thoughtful toppings and a killer sauce and it’s hard to go wrong. Here are some ways to make it your own.

  • Change up the grain base. I love quick-cooking bulgur, but rice, quinoa, couscous, or farro are great too. Use what you have leftover or in the pantry.
  • Roast whatever vegetables you have. Eggplant, summer squash, and mushrooms make great additions or swaps to the tomato-pepper mixture. Toss in some leftover chicken, steak, or tofu in place of the beans, if you’d rather.
  • Try a different sauce. The spicy sambal-yogurt drizzle is my favorite (swap sriracha for the sambal oelek, if you’d like), but a lemony tahini sauce or buttermilk dressing are also so delicious.
  • Go wild with garnishes. The meal is plenty hearty with tons of texture on its own, but you can take it over the top with fun finishes: Think olives, sliced avocado, cubed or grated cheese, toasted nuts, or even a soft-cooked egg.

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