Stories / Recipes

Build a Better Grain Bowl with These 5 Recipes

Maggie Borden

January 11, 2018


Photo: James Ransom/Food52

It’s hard to scan a lunch menu these days and not find a grain bowl on offer. No longer relegated to the realm of macrobiotic enthusiasts, these tidy mains are so ubiquitous they’re available at Starbucks alongside your macchiato. And with good reason: the grain bowl format is a satisfying option that’s versatile enough to fit almost any taste.

Growing weary of the trend? We’ve gathered together a few of our favorite recipes to put the vim and vigor back into your grain bowl routine. Feel blah about your brown rice? Swap it out for quinoa or farro. Sick of slivered almonds? Try pecans or peanuts. The variations below draw from across the globe, proving the worldwide appeal of this hearty yet healthy staple.

Forbidden Rice Bowl
JBF Award winner Ellie Krieger shares her formula for constructing gratifying grain bowls: you need something leafy, something crunchy, and something pickled. Case in point? This rice bowl, which features baby kale, pickled red onions, and chopped peanuts.

Farro and Black Rice with Roasted Autumn Squash
JBF Award winner Thomas Keller balances the sweetness of three types of winter squash with the bite of spicy dandelion greens, and opts for a combination of nutty farro and black sticky rice as the dish’s base.

Black Barley Salad
This herby, refreshing grain bowl from Boot Camp alum Charleen Badman makes use of the striking, deeply hued black barley, but regular pearled barley works just as well to serve as a contrast to the spice-filled citrus vinaigrette.

Farro and Golden Beet Salad
Between the earthy-sweet beets, briny feta, and spicy candied pecans, you’ll find it hard to stop eating this farro bowl from JBF Award winner Food52’s cookbook, Mighty Salads.

Mango Fonio Salad
Senegalese fonio is the star of this recipe from Pierre Thiam. The gluten-free grain is similar in texture to quinoa, and works in any dish where you’d use rice or couscous. In this iteration, Thiam pairs fonio with fresh herbs, mango, and raw vegetables, but advises that the dish works well with whatever produce is in season.

Hungry for more? View our entire recipe collection.


Maggie Borden is associate editor at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.