This vegetarian Winter Grain Bowl with roasted root vegetables, earthy grains, sweet dried fruit, lots of delicious spices, and protein rich chickpeas is as colorful as it is nutritious.
I originally posted this recipe in 2012 when I was doing a healthy eating challenge. It was called The Ultimate Winter Bulgur Wheat and it was a recipe I found through the Bon Appetit Food-Lover’s Cleanse. It’s a great bulgur wheat recipe, but I’ve decided to make the recipe more versatile by not calling for a specific whole grain.
I included it on Day 6 of my Healthy Eating Cleanse. And it’s so delicious, a recipe I’d eat even if I wasn’t on a healthy eating kick. But, for the life of me, I can’t find the recipe on the internet any longer. Oh well, at least I saved it here!
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A couple of years ago (or maybe it was more than a couple now) Buddha Bowls were all the rage. I feel like people don’t call them that anymore, but simply use the more descriptive “grain bowls” or simply “bowls” to describe these ways of eating.
These bowls are chock full of healthy ingredients, a one-dish meal consisting of whole grains, veggies, proteins, and maybe a dressing or sauce to tie them all together. Usually I see them filled with vegan or vegetarian ingredients, but you can totally add in whatever ingredients you want.
All trendy descriptors aside, the grain bowl is a great way to eat. It’s simple enough, portable, meal prep ready, and so delicious!
And, this winter version is great.
The smell of the roasting veggies is fantastic. The whole grain nutty and chewiness makes the bowls something special. And the little bits of dried apricots give it a fun sweetness.
And this grain bowl is hearty and delicious, and ready in about an hour. So, your lunches or dinners are a snap!
Looking for more delicious grain bowl inspiration?
Check out these delicious bowls:
What is Bulgur Wheat?
Bulgur is a natural whole wheat grain, that’s rich in fiber, “B” vitamins, iron, and other nutrients. It’s typically cracked and partially precooked.
It’s a staple in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking, where they often include it in side dishes, soups, and salads. You’re probably familiar with Middle Eastern Tabbouleh salad, which features the grain.
What to do with bulgur wheat?
To cook bulgur, all you have to do is soak it, thanks to the fact that it’s already parboiled or partially precooked.
Make sure to check the package directions, but typically, all you have to do to cook the bulgur for this recipe is put the bulgur in a large heatproof bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Pour the boiling broth over the bulgur. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave for about 20 minutes. Fluff up the couscous with a fork.
More bulgur wheat recipes
What other grains can I use in this recipe?
When I went to make this dish this time around, my store didn’t have any bulgur, so I wanted to make the recipe more flexible. Maybe the stores are out because of shortages in the supply chain. Maybe my store just doesn’t carry “unusual” grains any longer.
Regardless, I wanted you to know that you can make this ultimate winter couscous with just about any whole grain you want.
Take a look at the package directions, and cook the grains in vegetable broth to add more flavor and dimension to the dish.
For the updated pictures you see, I went with quick cooking barley.
To make quick cooking barley, combine ½ cup grains and ¾ cup vegetable broth to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. So, while the veggies roast you can cook the grains.
Try using brown rice, barley, quinoa, farro, wheat berries, wild rice, buckwheat, or whole wheat couscous.
Heck, you could make this on regular rotation and make a different grain each time to keep things from getting boring.
Can I switch it up any more?
Yes, use this recipe as a nice base.
Eat it warm or cold. Hello, leftovers straight from the fridge!
Serve it cold over a bunch of greens for a lovely winter salad.
Add a fried egg to it for breakfast.
It’s a great holiday side dish on the Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter table!
What Is a Parsnip and What Does It Taste Like?
A parsnip looks like a short fat cream-colored carrot. It’s a root vegetable that’s closely related to carrots and parsley.
The parsnip is sweet, like a carrot, but with a sharpness that’s almost spicy.
They’re low in calories, but packed full of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, antioxidants, and soluble and insoluble fiber
They encourage healthy digestion and might help aid in weight management.
Great for Meal Prep
This is a great recipe for meal prep.
Simply cook up those whole grains, and you can choose a different grain each time you make this.
Roast those veggies to caramelized goodness.
Toss in some protein. And you could leave it at the chickpeas that are in the recipe and keep it a vegan and vegetarian dish. Or add on a chicken breast, some leftover pulled pork. Try tossing in some leftover roasted lentils. Or, go a more creamy direction and toss in some feta or goat cheese for your protein.
Is this grain bowl good as leftovers?
This is great as leftovers! One of the great things about these bowls, is that they last quite a while in the fridge.
The medley of roasted veggies, dried fruit, and chickpeas will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a week. Making it the perfect make-ahead meal.
Pro tips for great winter grain bowls
How to make these delicious grain bowls.
Don’t forget to scroll down for the printable recipe card with full detailed ingredients and instructions.
Place the chopped carrots, parsnips and shallots in a large ovenproof dish; I used a metal roasting pan. Add the cinnamon stick, bay leaves, 1 tablespoon of the oil, and all other spices and mix well.
Roast for 15 minutes.
Add in the cubes sweet potato. I used a small yellow fleshed sweet potato and a small orange fleshed sweet potato instead of a large sweet potato.
Continue cooking for about 35 minutes.
Add the dried apricots and the chickpeas with their cooking liquid, and cook for a further 10 minutes.
While the veggies roast, cook the grains on the stove top according to the package directions.
Serve the grains and the veggies together, garnished with fresh cilantro and lime wedges if desired.
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Winter Grain Bowl Recipe
Winter Grain Bowl
- 1 medium carrot peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
- 1 medium parsnip peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
- 4 shallots peeled and sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided use
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 large sweet potato peeled and cubed
- 1/4 cup dried apricots roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup chickpeas canned or freshly cooked
- 3/4 cups chickpea cooking liquid and/or water
- 1/2 cup uncooked whole grains
- 1 cup boiling vegetable broth or water
- 2 cups cilantro leaves if desired
- Preheat the oven to 375º F. Place the chopped carrots, parsnips and shallots in a large ovenproof dish. Add the cinnamon stick, bay leaves, 1 tablespoon of the oil, and all other spices and mix well. Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
- Add the chopped sweet potato, stir and return to the oven. Continue cooking for about 35 minutes, by which time the vegetables should have softened while retaining a bite, stir halfway through cooking. Add the dried apricots and the chickpeas with their cooking liquid and/or water. Return to the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes or until hot.
- In the meantime, cook the whole grains in the vegetable broth according to the package directions, adding the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- Remove the bay leaves and the cinnamon stick.
- To serve, spoon cooked whole grains into a deep plate or bowl. Spoon the vegetables onto the center of the grains. Finish with lots of cilantro leaves as desired.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations, and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.