Vegan Buddha Bowl: Brown Rice & Edamame

Vegan Buddha Bowl Recipe: Brown Rice and Edamame
A vegan Buddha bowl is a balanced meal in a bowl (hence the name) that is filled to the brim with plant-based goodness, nutrients, and vibrant colors. The idea is to eat a little bit of each component, so instead of choosing between a few foods you get to have them all in one sitting! Buddha bowls offer such an amazing variety of flavors and textures that are sure to leave you feeling satiated.

Unlike your typical buddha bowl, which can require some time and effort, this brown rice and edamame bowl version is super-easy to put together and perfect for meal prep, potlucks, and of course Thanksgiving dinner. The edamame is a vegan protein powerhouse, providing all 9 essential amino acids, and I add cranberries to give the dish a sweet contrast, and Kalamata olives for saltiness and a little umami flavor. Everything is tossed with some lime juice and olive oil and topped with toasted pine nuts for a burst of crunch flavor.

 

Vegan Buddha Bowl: Brown Rice & Edamame

This well-balanced Buddha bowl has all of my favorite ingredients -- brown rice, edamame, and feta cheese. It makes a great side dish with any meal, and I often have the leftovers as an afternoon snack.

  • Keyword: Allergens: Tree Nuts
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Allergens: Tree Nuts
  • Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 3 cup cooked brown rice (use 1 cup dry brown rice and cook according to directions, or use leftover rice)
  • 2 cups frozen edamame (shelled)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives (halved)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (toasted)

Instructions

  1. Bring 2 cups of generously salted water to a boil, add the edamame, and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, mix the cooked brown rice, cooked edamame, cranberries, Kalamata olives, cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and serve.

Pro Tips: You can cook the brown rice ahead of time and store it for later, or if you’re looking for a huge shortcut just buy frozen brown rice that cooks in 3-4 minutes in the microwave. Otherwise, you can make it from scratch -- just add 1 cup of dry rice to a pot and add water 1 inch above the rice, then bring to a boil and cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Check to see if it’s drying out and add more water if necessary. It’ll be good in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. You can also dry toast pine nuts ahead of time and store them in the pantry for up to one week.

Bon appétit!

WHAT IS A BUDDHA BOWL MADE OF?

By now you’ve probably seen these colorful bowls all over Instagram or at a health food cafes, so you may have wondered — besides being beautiful, what exactly is a Buddha bowl?

A Buddha bowl is a vegan meal that satisfies all of your nutritional needs for the day. These yummy dishes tend to include a small amount of everything — whole-grains (rice, millet, quinoa, freekeh, farro, soba noodles, etc.), plant protein (tofu, edamame, beans, lentils), and plenty of raw and cooked vegetables (spiraled, grated, diced, julienned, you name it!) topped  with a delicious dressing and slices of ripe avocado. If you’re feeling ambitious you can even add a sprinkle of sesame or hemp seeds, sprouts, or toasted and chopped nuts. It can be inspired by Mexican, Mediterranean, Indian, or even Asian flavors, such as in my Pad Thai Salad Bowl. There are so many Buddha bowl combination possibilities, you’ll never get tired of eating the same thing over and over! For another tasty Buddha bowl, try my Freekeh Vegetable Bowl!

While these bowls might take some time to put together, they’re loaded with nutrients like fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals, and they’re great for leftovers. Just meal prep cooked veggies, grains, and beans ahead of time and combine everything on the days you’re going to be eating the bowl(s).

HOW TO MAKE VEGETARIAN BUDDHA BOWL

start with the ingredientS

  • Brown Rice: I used short-grain brown rice but you can also use brown basmati or brown jasmine for longer-grain varieties.
  • Cilantro: A Buddha bowl is nothing without its greens. Sub with parsley if you have it on hand.
  • Dried Cranberries: Use these tart berries for some sweetness and acidity.
  • Edamame: These young soybeans usually come in a pod that is picked and harvested before it has time to ripen and harden. You’ll see edamame pods served in Asian restaurants as an appetizer, where you have to squeeze the bean out because the pods aren’t edible. In the frozen section of your grocery store, you’ll find them shelled, and I recommend buying this type since they’re ready to eat. Usually you don’t have to cook frozen veggies, but in the case of edamame I recommend boiling them for a few minutes to make them tender.
  • Kalamata Olives: Sub with black olives or skip if you’re not into olives.
  • Lime Juice: You can also use lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
  • Olive Oil: I love using EVOO for most dishes that don’t require a high-smoke point oil. For a more neutral-flavored oil, try grapeseed or avocado oil.
  • Pine Nuts: I always toast my pine nuts no matter what dish I’m putting them into, and I prefer to dry toast them (without oil) in a pan. To accomplish this, simply heat up your pan to medium-low and add the pine nuts in one layer. Flip them constantly for 1-2 minutes so they don’t burn.  Pine nuts are expensive (but so worth it!), so you can use chopped and toasted almonds, walnuts, or pecans instead and this bowl will taste just as great.
  • Red Pepper Flakes: A small amount brings just enough heat to this dish — it’s not crazy-spicy, but you can adjust for more or less spice depending on your taste buds.

WHAT RICE TO USE FOR A BUDDHA BOWL

You can use any healthy grain for a Buddha bowl. In this particular recipe I use short-grain brown rice, but you can try other brown rice varieties (medium and long-grain). A few of my other favorite “exotic” rices to try include forbidden rice — black rice that originated in ancient China — and red rice, which has recently become popular in the U.S. but has been used in Indonesia for centuries. Both forbidden and red rice contain high levels of an antioxidant called anthocyanin, which is also found in purple and red fruits and veggies like red cabbage, blueberries, and cranberries, and helps reduce systemic inflammation in the body.

Vegan Buddha Bowl Recipe: Brown Rice and Edamame

TIPS FOR MEAL PREP

Make the Buddha bowl cooking process go a lot faster and prep some of the components ahead of time!

  • Cook the brown rice and store it for later: If you’re looking for a huge shortcut, just buy frozen brown rice that cooks in 3-4 minutes in the microwave. Otherwise, you can make it from scratch — just add 1 cup of dry rice to a pot and add water 1 inch above the rice. Bring it to a boil then cook uncovered for 30 minutes., checking to see if it’s drying out and adding more water if necessary. It’ll be good in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  • Toast pine nuts and store them in the pantry: Dry toast a handful of pine nuts (in a pan without oil) and store them in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Super-easy to make and super-delicious to eat, this vegan Buddha bowl with brown rice and edamame makes for a great healthy and filling meal!