For a good-for-you lunch that really sticks with you, this brown rice Buddha bowl hits the mark. It’s topped with baked tofu and kale chips. Then it’s finished with a drizzling of tahini dressing. It’s a filling, delicious, and healthy lunch or dinner. Vegan & gluten-free.
We have a bird feeder just outside our dining room window. One of the kitchen table chairs acts as a kitty perch. The cats watch Feline TV and make catcalls to the birds outside who are having dinner.
The birds don’t seem to notice or care. But it gives the cats a chance to be as menacing as their adorable, furry selves can manage.
Knowing how hard it can be to wait for your favorite shows to come back on television, I try to keep the birdseed in full supply, so that the cats don’t miss their program.
This means that with some regularity, I go to the grocery store to get a huge bag of birdseed.
Whenever I leave the store, hefting a 20 pound bag, I always laugh to myself, thinking about if someone were to catch a picture of me at that moment.
“There goes a vegan with an enormous bag of birdseed leaving the grocery store…”
I think of them sizing me up and saying, “Yep. That’s about what I thought.”
When it comes to so-called “vegan food,” people have a lot of opinions.
In addition to seeds, they imagine it’s all tofu, rice or barley, carrots, tahini, sprouts, avocado, and kale chips…
Oh, did I tell you that I have a recipe for you?
That’s right. As much as I always talk about how vegan food is just food (and it is), the truth is, I like all of those crunchy, granola foods for which vegans are mocked.
Vegan Buddha bowl with baked tofu
Welcome to a who’s who of much maligned plant foods…
When a vegan throws a dinner party, this is likely what people fear they will be serving.
This bowl was inspired by the basmati brown rice bowl I would often get at Flore, a vegan restaurant in Silver Lake, California. (They have since closed.)
For this Buddha bowl, I use my go-to baked tofu recipe.
A big batch of baked tofu is good for a bowl like this one. And it’s also so handy to have as a straight-out-of-the-refrigerator snack, slipped into sandwiches or salads, or added to stir-fries for a quick weeknight meal.
For the grain, I opt for barley or brown rice. But you could go with quinoa, millet, farro, or whatever tickles your fancy.
It’s then topped with all of the carrots, avocado, sprouts, and kale chips your heart desires.
Finish it with an easy tahini dressing. It’s made with tahini, lemon juice, water, and a pinch of salt. (Here’s my favorite tahini.)
Enjoy the filling warmth of the tofu and brown rice. Revel in the crisp texture of the kale chips against the creamy, nutty tahini. Sink your teeth into the fatty goodness of avocado until every drop is gone.
After all, sometimes an Iowan has to have corn-on-the-cob. Sometimes a cat has to meow. And sometimes a vegan has to have a dinner of tofu & kale chips.
Baked tofu & kale chip Buddha bowls with tahini dressing
For easy baked tofu
For kale chips
- 1 bunch curly kale
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
For tahini dressing
- 2 Tablespoons tahini
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons water
- 1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Pinch salt
- 2 cups cooked brown rice or barley (Use rice for a gluten free option)
- 1 large carrot grated
- 1 avocado sliced
- Optional toppings: Sprouts, sunflower seeds & tamari
To make easy baked tofu
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large lasagna-style glass casserole dish, combine the extra virgin olive oil and tamari. Lay the slabs of tofu evenly across the dish, taking time to coat each side with tamari and olive oil.
- Put into oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, flip the tofu slabs, and cover evenly in lemon juice. Bake for an additional 20 minutes and remove from oven.
To make kale chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse kale and remove the hard center ribs. Tear the kale leaves into chips of medium, mostly equal-sized pieces. Keep in mind that the kale will shrink while it cooks, and so aim for pieces that are about two inches big if possible. Put the kale chips in a salad spinner to remove as much water as possible. The leaves should be as dry as possible, so that they will get crisp in the oven instead of soggy.
- Put the kale chips in a large mixing bowl with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Using your hands, rub the oil, lemon juice, and salt into the kale, taking care to evenly coat them.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Lay the kale chips evenly across the sheets, taking care that they don’t overlap. (You don’t want them to steam instead of bake.)
- Bake the chips for 15 minutes and remove from oven. Check for doneness. You want them to be crisp, not burnt.
- If they are not quite done, flip the chips, and return them to the oven, putting the baking sheets on opposite racks for even roasting. Return them to the oven to bake for another five minutes or less, keeping a careful eye on them to make sure they don’t burn. When the chips are crisp, remove them from the oven and serve.
To make tahini dressing
- In a small bowl, combine tahini, 2 Tablespoons water, one teaspoon of lemon juice, and a pinch of salt with a fork until completely combined and creamy. If it's too thick, slowly add the additional Tablespoon of water until you've reached a creamy but pourable consistency. Taste and add additional teaspoon of lemon juice, if preferred.
To make bowls
- In serving bowls, include a scoop of brown rice or barley, 2 slices of tofu, a handful of kale chips, a scoop of grated carrot, and a few slices of avocado. Top with tahini dressing and any of the optional toppings you prefer.