Quinoa bowls are all the rage. Any grain bowl, really. Sure, “bowls” are borderline too trendy, but I can’t really hate on this trend because they basically sum up exactly how I like to eat all in one dish. Boil a big batch of whatever your favorite grains – quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, farro or barley all work – then stash them in the fridge and when meal time hits, toss them with whatever your favorite ingredients – veggies, nuts, dried fruit, cheese, seafood, meat all work, too! Voila! You’ve got yourself a well-balanced, complete meal. One that you can switch up and make new every time, too, which is all the more lovable.
In honor of the new year and trying to start 2018 on a healthy foot, I took inspiration from my most favorite foods (nachos and tacos) and made a compromising quinoa-rice bowl to satisfy my fiesta cravings. And because I love all things eggs, I decided to put a 6-minute egg on top for my protein. Although shredded rotisserie chicken would be faster and seared shrimp would be delish, if you prefer your eggs only at breakfast!
So, quinoa and rice and other grains are great because they are über healthy and packed with nutrition. However, they need help in the flavor department. Sure, some have a nuttiness quality and they all lend great texture, but in order to make a bowl super craveable we need to pack in a lot of flavor. I do this first by making my jalapeño-cilantro vinaigrette. You can chop and whisk if you want, but I like my Vitamix for this job. Jalapeño, a clove of garlic, handful of fresh cilantro, honey (or agave), squeeze of fresh lime juice, rice wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil all get blended up into a fast, flavorful and slightly spicy dressing.
I decided to use a combination of quinoa and brown rice for my bowl, but you can use all one kind or add more if you like. Really, the most valuable take away is the idea of having some grains prepared in the fridge and ready to go when you need them. Especially when we are trying to be more healthful, having nutritious ingredients ready when we are is key. After blending, I stir a few tablespoons of my vinaigrette into my grain mixture.
A six minute egg is as quick and easy as it sounds. There are so many ways, or opinions I should say, on how to boil an egg, so I’ll share my preferred method with you here. First, bring the water to a boil BEFORE adding the eggs. Once boiling, use a ladle to lower the eggs into the pot. Sometimes when a cold egg gets placed in hot water it can crack slightly and some egg white will wiggle out. To prevent this, hold the bottom of the ladle over the surface of the water for 15-30 seconds before lowering the egg completely. This sort of tempers the egg before it hits the hot liquid.
Lower the heat slightly to keep the eggs from jostling around too violently as they cook, but make no mistake, the water should continue to boil, or simmer heavily, even after adding the eggs. Set a timer for six minutes. Easy to remember, eh!?
The photo below shows the water working vigorously. While that happens, prepare a bowl of ice water. As soon as the timer goes off, use a slotted spoon to transfer the eggs to the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Give them a few minutes to hang out and chill, literally, then peel off the shell.
Now, I know we are trying to be healthy and all, but sometimes the longest lasting health plans are the ones that include special compromises along the way. The all or nothing kind tend to go bust real quick. So, I decided to take that taco/nacho inspiration one step further and crisp up some corn tortilla strips. By sautéing them myself, rather than buying store-bought strips or chips, I avoid the deep fried versions. You can certainly skip this step, but I really enjoy the texture they lend to the final bowl. All you do is warm some olive oil in a large pan, thinly slice a few corn tortillas, then sauté the strips in the hot oil for 4-6 minutes until they are golden brown and crispy.
All this recipe really is, is a repurposing of my favorite taco or nacho ingredients. Which is why you see crumbled queso fresco, sliced black olives and green onions, salted pepitas, avocado and a few strips of roasted red peppers. But the sky is the limit here. Brainstorm on your favorite taco toppings and get creative! Drizzle some extra jalapeño-cilantro vinaigrette over the top, and let the runny yolk add another layer of creaminess to your final dish. Enjoy! And again, Happy New Year!
Some of my favorite flavors tossed into a healthy grain bowl of rice and quinoa and topped with a satisfying 6-minute egg.
For the Vinaigrette:
1 small jalapeño or half of a large jalapeño, seeds removed
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 large handful fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
For the Bowl:
3/4 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/3 cup queso fresco, crumbled
1/4 avocado, sliced or diced
2 tablespoons black olives, sliced
2 tablespoons roasted red or yellow peppers, sliced or diced
2 tablespoons green onion, sliced thin
1/3 cup pepitas, lightly salted
1 egg, large
For the Tortilla Strips, Optional:
2 corn tortillas, sliced thin
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Other Topping Options:
1/3 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1 cup chopped greens such as romaine or arugula
8–10 ounces cooked shrimp or chicken, diced or shredded, optional
1/4 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
1/3 cup corn kernels
1/3 cup diced cucumber
Fill a medium saucepan with enough water to cover an egg by at least 1 inch. Set over high heat and bring to a boil.
To make the vinaigrette, remove the stem and seeds from the jalapeño, roughly chop the pepper then place in a blender. Add a handful of cilantro, peeled garlic clove, squeeze of lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, rice wine vinegar and honey or agave, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until mixture is smooth, with no chunks of jalapeno or garlic. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Once water is boiling, set an egg in the bowl of a ladle and hold over the surface of the water for 15 seconds or so. This helps to temper the egg slightly. Carefully lower into the boiling water and lower heat so that water is still boiling but egg(s) aren’t jostling around violently. Set timer for 6 minutes. Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set aside.
Measure cooked quinoa and cooked brown rice into a mixing bowl. Drizzle with jalapeno vinaigrette and toss to combine. Use as much vinaigrette as necessary to achieve desired taste. Transfer dressed grains to a serving plate or bowl.
Arrange your toppings of choice over the quinoa.
To make crispy tortilla strips, set a medium saute pan over medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Slice the corn tortillas into long, thin strips. Add the strips once the pan and oil are hot and season with salt, then cook for 5-6 minutes until golden brown and crispy, stirring often to cook evenly. Remove from heat.
Once the egg timer goes off, use a slotted spoon to lift the egg(s) out of the pot and immediately transfer them to the bowl of ice water. Let cool for 2-3 minutes before peeling.
Peel the egg(s) and set on top of the quinoa-rice bowl along with a pile of crispy corn tortilla strips. Drizzle extra vinaigrette over the top. Serve and enjoy!