California Grain Bowl

OKAY, I’m calling it California because it reminds me of California. When I was there. And I ate food there.

California Grain Bowl / Bev Cooks

…The avocados.

Truthfully, I can’t stop thinking about the food in California! We had dinner at (fine, a chain. but I didn’t know it at the time) True Food Kitchen, and it was soul-punchingly delicious. I ordered a vegan grain bowl with flash-fried tofu, crispy blanched snow peas, miso-glazed sweet potatoes, charred onion and HEMP SEED. And then I fainted at the table after one bite, and the ambulance people came and slapped me in the face and I woke up and kept eating.

True story.


Obviously I had to recreate it for you.

The food, not the story.

California Grain Bowl / Bev Cooks

But I took a slightly different route.

It’s not one pan by any stretch, but it is SO SO SO worth it if you’re looking to blow out your vegetarian/vegan night.

Sorry I said blow out just now.

California Grain Bowl / Bev Cooks

The tofu! It’s extra firm, and heavily pan seared. I used to be soooo impatient and bored to caskets with tofu. I mean, it’s so blah. But I figured out exactly how to do it so that Aaron doesn’t draw up divorce papers, and the tiny gremlins in my home think they’re sponge chips. And everyone is gleeful.

You have to pat the tofu dry first, and caaarefully cut it into little chunks. Some may crumble, but you’re still a good person. Get a good amount of olive oil in a pan and sear those babies for like, THREE MINUTES on one side. Let ’em sit. Don’t touch them or try and flip or scooch them around. After three minutes, flip and sear ANOTHER three. Maybe four! You have to get them good and browned and crispy before life can go on. And season well with salt! Tofu without salt is like a bad hair day. Just get back in bed already.

California Grain Bowl / Bev Cooks

You’ll dust the sweet potatoes with turmeric, olive oil and salt, and roast for like 45 minutes. Along side the taters you’ll roast a red onion. Or CHAR IT. Like TFK did. I got mine dark and crispy. But you do you. If you want softer onions, I’ll be okay.

California Grain Bowl / Bev Cooks

So here’s something to know. I boiled the grains for abouuuut 40 minutes, THEN transferred them to the pan for a little bit of crisping. You totally don’t have to do that. I’m not sure I even noticed that much crispiness. Just drain them and call it good.

Oh! Boil the snow peas in the boiling water before you add the grains for a couple of minutes to soften and make greens pop. Boom.

California Grain Bowl / Bev Cooks

The dressing is simple and stunning. Extra-virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and Everything seasoning. I used Gaby’s, but Trader Joe’s also has a version!

This. ^^^

It’s just . . . unbelievable.

It’s one of those meals that is beyond balanced. Everything just SINGS together. Crispy and cool meets warm and creamy and meets grainy and seasoned meets charred and complex meets YOUR NEW LIFE.

And it’s vegetarian! Even VEGAN.

But seriously, feel free to sub in chicken if tofu makes you stabby.

Aaron gushed a river. The kids obsessed over the tofu (sponge chips!), sweet potatoes and avocado.

And me? I fainted after the first bite, and had to have ambulance people slap me in the face.

True story.


California Grain Bowl / Bev Cooks

Make make make make make make make make make make make make make make make.

California Grain Bowl
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  • 1 cup ancient grains blend
  • About a cup of snow peas
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into thick slices
  • 1 (14-oz) block extra-firm tofu, lightly pressed between two paper towels to rid of excess water, then cut into small cubes
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 Tbs. (or more) Everything seasoning
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with a Tbs of extra-virgin olive oil. Then dust with the turmeric, a good pinch of coarse salt, and freshly ground pepper. Toss with your fingers, and roast for about 45 minutes, or until softened and beautifully browned.
  3. Also, place the onion on another smaller baking sheet and drizzle with a little oil as well. Roast for 20 minutes, and see how charred they are. Keep roasting in 5-minute increments and get them to your desired crispy charred-ness. It’s a word.
  4. Heat a large pan with a couple of Tbs. olive oil over medium-high. Add the tofu in a single layer and season with salt. Let it sear for three minutes, until you get some good browning. Flip, season and sear another three minutes. You want that tofu CRISPY.
  5. In the meantime, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Simmer the snow peas for a minute or two, until bright green, then transfer them to a plate; cover and let rest. Now boil the grains for at least 30 minutes, and up to 50, until they’re soft, but toothy. Drain. Sing a song. You’re so close.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the 1/3 cup cup of oil, lemon juice and Everything seasoning, until it’s all emulsified. Taste it. Need a little more salt? Go for it.
  7. Now build your bowls! Grains, sweet potatoes, charred onion, snow peas, the crispy tofu, avocado slices. And drizzle the whole bowl with the Everything dressing, and GET IN THAT.
  8. Serves 4!

California Grain Bowl / Bev Cooks

True Food Kitchen can EAT THIS. Hahaha! Oh.

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15 Responses to California Grain Bowl

  1. Julia May 17, 2018 at 9:14 am #
    Nailed it! I live on the boarder of CA and NV and I say you definitely have CA cuisine down pat with this one (who is "Pat" btw?). Loving this grain bowl, m' fresh and healthy!
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  2. Amanda May 17, 2018 at 9:57 am #
    We DO have some rockin food here in California!
  3. Eliza May 17, 2018 at 10:42 am #
    Where do you find ancient grains blend?
    • Bev Weidner May 17, 2018 at 2:34 pm #
      I got mine at Whole Foods! Bob's Red Mill is the brand. Hope you love!
  4. Katrina Emelianoff May 17, 2018 at 10:28 pm #
    Looks amazing, crispy tofu is the best!
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