Saturday, June 2, 2012

Dragon Bowl with Tahini Dressing

"What's a Dragon Bowl?" I ask as I am sitting on the floor of Cassandra and Ben's beautiful light-drenched and art-dappled apartment in New York City.  We've just rehashed one of the most exquisite (and also screamingly FUN) wedding weekends I've ever experienced, and now the newly wed Cassandra and Ben are hosting us for one last night of New York camaraderie.

"A Dragon Bowl is a life-changing discovery," my friend Ben V. tells me in all seriousness.  The others in the room nod their heads.  I sit up a bit straighter, my full attention has now been captured since I am always up for life-changing discoveries, especially if they involve good food.  The nagging thoughts of my blistered toes (from all the dancing), pink nose (from all the sunshine), and pounding head (from all the champagne) are banished as I try to picture what this Dragon Bowl must be like.

My question had interrupted Ben V. and his wife Angela telling us about their lunch at Angelica Kitchen, where they ordered the Dragon Bowl.  They described it as a mix-n-match bowl of grains, greens, and protein topped with a dressing or sauce of your choice.  It sounded heavenly after several days of reckless overindulgence in the Big Apple.

As soon as I had a free night back home in Minneapolis, I stocked up on veggies that I was craving, specifically:  beets, carrots, red bell pepper, snap peas, and sprouts.  This Dragon Bowl was going to be customized especially for me!

I was also on a mission to try a new whole grain.  After a futile hunt for amaranth, I came across millet and decided to give it a shot.  Simply boiled in vegetable stock until all liquid is absorbed into the grain, it tasted like couscous or rice - very fluffy and light.

Then I needed to figure out what kind of sauce to put on my Dragon Bowl.  Google helped me find a great recipe for a tahini sauce that had the double bonus of not only using up the smidge of great co-op tahini from my fridge, but also called for the exact amount of of nutritional yeast I had on hand.

Nutritional yeast (aka "nooch") is a new-to-me ingredient (pictured above).  Apparently, nooch is a great darling of vegans for it's cheesy and nutty flavors and tastes great on popcorn, potatoes, and vegetables.  The cheesiness is what prompted me to buy it awhile ago, but I hadn't had the motivation to use it until now.  It looks like a yellow powder, and you find it in the refrigerated bulk section of your specialty health-food store or co-op.

The sauce was lovely.  Lovely to taste, that is.  I know it's horrifically ugly looking, hence the pretty peonies from my backyard in the photo to distract you.  It tastes tremendously like the peanut sauce you'd find on cold peanut noodles, only much better, I think.  The only change I made from the original recipe is to swap the water for vegetable stock, and to add more of it to get the right consistency of the sauce.

It wasn't until after all the vegetable prep, millet boiling, sesame seed toasting, and sauce blending...after the arrangement of the salad on the plate...the drizzling of the sauce...the garnishing of the sesame seeds....that I realized a Dragon Bowl is the same damn thing as Hippie Chow, which I discovered nearly 3 years ago right here on this very blog.  The main difference is in the presentation since Hippie Chow is messily thrown together and a Dragon Bowl is very beautifully composed.

Whatever!  Dragon Bowl or Hippie Chow, I don't really care what you call it.  It's healthy, colorful, satisfying, and most of all incredibly delicious!

Dragon Bowl with Tahini Dressing, adapted from G Living
Serves 4 (at least!)

2 cups cooked whole grain of your choice (rice, quinoa, wheatberries, millet, amaranth, oat groats, etc)
2 cups chopped greens (I used a raw baby kale and spinach mix, but sauteed kale would be great)
1 cup each of your favorite chopped veggies (I used red pepper, carrot, beet, sprouts, snap peas, avocado)
1 cup each protein of choice (I used chickpeas and edamame)
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds for garnish

For the Tahini Dressing:
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
1/4 cup tahini (or any nut butter of your choice)
1/4 cup vegetable stock (And add more as needed to get runny consistency)
1 clove garlic
1 big pinch crushed red pepper flakes

First, blend all sauce ingredients together.  Taste and adjust to your liking.

On each plate, arrange cooked grain.  Top with greens.  Then arrange all your veggies in a way that's pleasing to the eye (I like every other thing to be green).

Drizzle sauce over everything and garnish with sesame seeds.

ONE YEAR AGO:  Peanummus
TWO YEARS AGO:  Tofu Caesar Salad Dressing
THREE YEARS AGO:  Roasted Mushroom and Tomato Sandwich w/ Goat Cheese


  1. I need to get on this Dragon Bowl! I've seen a few lately, so it must be a sign. :)

    Also, I've been seriously craving a caesar salad, so I'll be checking out your link from two years ago!

    Have a great day!

  2. you really need to try this dish with pickled ginger and diced cucumbers. The wow factor goes up by 10x!!