Love veggie bowls? Forget the rice and instead dig into this Warm Vegetable Bowl with Pickled Carrots and Freekeh.
When I accepted my job last spring, I knew that our office would be moving soon. Last month, it finally happened. Now situated in the heart of downtown in our fair city, we’re in the center of everything — including the growing food scene, which is pretty awesome.
There’s a lot of good food — from the noodle bar serving up delicious custom soups to the vegan juice bar with creative salads to the bakehouse run by friars who make enormous sandwiches. And it’s no secret that I love to grab lunch with my coworkers — it’s a great chance to get out, catch up and take a breather.
Ultimately though, the new location is delicious for my belly, but not so much for my wallet.
Something has to change so I am working toward bringing my lunch to work more often. (Confession: if I bring it once this week, it will count as ‘more often’ at this point. But I have plans to bring it at least twice. Maybe three times.)
For those of you who already take lunch to work regularly, that might sound a little ridiculous. I mean, how hard is it to prepare ahead of time and just take lunch? But when it’s not part of your routine, it’s a challenge. My mornings are whirlwind. Between getting ready myself, preparing the kids’ lunches supervising the morning routine and getting out the door on time, my own lunch is last on my priority list. And somehow, I can’t seem to get a step ahead.
But since I have big life goals and daily eating out doesn’t get me there, I am working on it.
Step one: preparing for weekday lunches on the weekend.
On weekends, I am often cooking only for myself. In the past, that’s meant either small portions … or weird food combinations (frozen potstickers, kalamata olives and a clementine, anyone?). But when I cook multiple servings of dishes that reheat well, they double as lunch options — which makes taking lunch to work that much easier. The trick is to pack leftovers for lunches right away so that they become grab and go in the morning.
Enter this recipe for Warm Vegetable Bowl with Pickled Carrots and Freekeh.
Warm roasted veggies with a hint of natural sweetness sit atop tender, slightly smoky, slightly nutty freekeh. Chilled pickled carrots top it all off, making this dish a symphony of flavors and textures. It can be made in as little as 30 minutes (if you hustle!), and makes four nutrient-rich servings.
Hint: If you are packing extra portions for lunches, keep the pickled carrots separate from the freekeh and roasted veggies. And chop the cilantro the morning you’ll be eating it, and pack that separately too. Reheat the veggies with the freekeh and then top, as desired, with the cool carrots and cilantro before eating.
I love this dish because it’s both healthy and full of flavor — which means that I look forward to digging in. Always a good thing.
But wait. What’s this freekeh?
One of my favorite parts of working on my cookbook, Grains as Mains: Modern Recipes Using Ancient Grains, was getting up close and personal with grains I didn’t eat much — if at all — beforehand. From millet to amaranth, barley to freekeh, I discovered a whole world beyond rice and pasta.
Freekeh, which is high in fiber, is roasted green wheat, which is why it has that distinctive flavor. It’s a great substitute for rice in dishes like rice bowls, fried rice and even stuffed bell peppers. I love it.
I saved two bowls of this dish for lunches this week. My lunch box is ready too, and I know what all of us are packing tomorrow. We’ll see how it goes.
Do you take lunch to work? Any tips for this late convert?
- 1 cup julienne-cut carrots
- 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 sweet bell pepper, , cut into 1-inch strips
- 1 yellow onion, , halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 2 cups halved fresh Brussels sprouts
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt and pepper, , to taste
- 1 cup dry freekeh, , prepared according to package directions
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- In a resealable container, combine the carrots, rice vinegar, ground ginger and 1/4 tsp kosher salt. Stir well to combine. Seal and chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the peppers, onions and Brussels sprouts on a rimmed nonstick baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.
- Roast the vegetables for 25-30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until golden and tender.
- To serve, divide the freekeh evenly among four bowls. Top each with 1/4 of the roasted veggies and 1/4 of the pickled carrots. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the cilantro.
- Serve immediately.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.