This is one of those recipes that basically isn't a recipe. That's the good kind, right?
There's a certain level of satisfaction to making your way through a complicated set of instructions and emerging with something edible. If you're lucky, it's something delicious, too. But it also can feel a bit like studying for an exam. Sure, you walked away with an A. But sometimes, you just want to come home at the end of the day and give your brain a little rest.
I spotted this recipe in the pages of Bon Appetit while I was on vacation and immediately ripped the page out, left the beach and zipped it into my suitcase. That's how badly I wanted to ensure I'd remember to make it.
The formula is pretty simple. Make a killer peanut sauce (I did it in my roommate's Ninja. That's how easy this thing is). Start with a base of brown rice. Add some seasonal veggies on top. Top with lots of sauce. And if you're anything like me, get all up in there with some hot sauce.
Bon Appetit has a list of suggested veggies to include - I followed it somewhat, but also just did my own thing. The Bloomingdale Farmer's Market, my Sunday stop for produce each week, had speckled pea shoots, which sounded extremely cool.
There's something satisfying about a meal that, even as you're prepping it, looks bright and cheery. It lifts your mood. It makes you remember that even though this is a simple meal, and one your meat-loving guy friends might call a "side dish," there's a lot to be thankful for.
The fresh produce. The ability to enjoy it outside, in your new backyard, with a chilled glass of rose. The ability, even, to stand at the counter to chop vegetables. Being healthy enough to make your own meal!
I've learned over the last months that celebrating the little moments every day can make dark times feel a lot brighter. And a dish this vibrant is worth celebrating.
crunchy brown rice veggie bowl with peanut sauce (adapted from Bon Appetit)
servings : 4 very generous servings. I got six out of it, all told.
In a blender or a Ninja, pulse together : 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped and de-seeded ; 1 grated garlic clover ; 1 cup of natural peanut butter ; 3/4 a cup of unsweetened coconut milk ; 2 tablespoons of brown sugar ; juice of one lime ; 2 tablespoons soy sauce ; 2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce ; salt to taste.
Once combined, heat over medium-low heat, whisking, for five minutes. Then keep over low heat, stirring occasionally, until ready to serve.
Have some fun with this! Chop up your favorite seasonal veggies (that you can eat raw), sprinkle with a seasoning of choice, and enjoy. I would recommend including torn mint and scallions, always.
My combination : 1/4 a head of purple cabbage, 1 golden beet (scrubbed, peeled, cut into matchsticks), 5 scallions, 1 cucumber, a torn handful of mint, a chopped handful of speckled pea shoots and two generous handfuls of peanuts, for crunch.
1 cup of brown rice + as much veggies as you want + a GENEROUS helping of sauce + an over-easy egg (optional) + hot sauce, if you so choose.
Eat with wine and friends.