Where I live, the farmer’s markets are in full swing with the season’s bounty of tomatoes, berries, herbs, and greens. I wanted to create a summer grain bowl that gave homage to the best of summer’s crops. Sweet corn, blueberries and cherry tomatoes take center stage while a zippy lemon basil vinaigrette makes the flavors dance.
How to meal prep this bowl
Every week, I pick a grain to batch cook and have on hand. It’s really easy to get tired of having quinoa and brown rice in regular rotation, so barley is one of my favorite grains to get me out of that rut. I love it’s nutty flavor and slightly chewy texture. BONUS: it’s incredibly nutritious and high in fiber so you can chalk it up as a win-win. I like to stock up on my grains in the bulk section of my grocery store which saves me money and cuts down on wasteful plastic packaging. Another win.
In this recipe you’ll want to look for pearl barley versus pot barley, which luckily is more readily available anyways. Then just cook according to the directions on your package. For mine, I had a quick cooking barley on hand which I only had to simmer in a pot full of water for about 12-15 minutes.
Once you’ve meal prepped your barley for the week, you’ll have it on hand to toss in soups, salads, or use as a yummy side dish with roasted vegetables. The lemon basil vinaigrette also happens to be delicious drizzled over a filet of salmon or chicken skewers to name a few.
How to build your grain bowl
Like any salad, grain bowls (aka buddha bowls) are great because they are endlessly customizable to whatever ingredients you have on hand and the flavors you love. For me, the only real science to it is in balancing out the textures. You’ll want a nice blend of crunchy, creamy, sweet, sour, bitter, nutty and herbaceous notes. If you want to take your summer grain bowl to the next level, here’s what you’ll want to include:
- Veggies: too many to list! My favorites are corn, cucumber, snap peas, asparagus, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, avocado…
- Fruits: berries, stone fruit, tomato, citrus, dried cranberries
- Nuts & Seeds: walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans, pistachios to name a few
- Cheese: goat cheese, feta, parmesan shavings, shredded cheddar, blue cheese crumbles
- Greens: spinach, spring mix, kale, arugula, romaine, and micro greens for starters
- Protein: hardboiled eggs, shredded chicken, tuna, salmon
- Grains: Barley, quinoa, brown rice, farro, couscous, whole wheat pasta
- Fresh herbs: basil, cilantro, parsley, tarragon, dill and mint
Summer Grain Bowl with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette
- food processor or blender
- 1 cup pearl barley, cooked according to directions
- 2 cups spinach or arugula
- 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup fresh corn, raw
- 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 2 tbsp roasted sunflower seeds
Lemon Basil Vinaigrette
- 2 cups fresh basil
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 whole lemon, zested and juiced
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Cook barley according to directions on package, drain and cool.
- In a food processor, combine basil, garlic, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt. Pulse until combined. Then slowly drizzle in the olive oil with the machine on until thoroghly combined.
- In a big bowl, layer barley and spinch or arugula with the tomatoes, corn and blueberries.
- Top with crumbled goat cheese and sunflower seeds. Drizzle with lemon basil vinaigrette.