RECIPE: Shortcuts to quicker, easier grain bowls at home

Quick Grain Bowl with Avocado Dressing.


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If you’ve already got a stash of leftovers in the fridge, grain bowls aren’t particularly challenging to make. Just dump everything in the bowl and go. However, if you’re starting from scratch, the list of possible ingredients and combinations can stretch infinitely and take time to assemble. Plus, a big batch of grains can take nearly an hour to cook.

For a quicker weeknight solution, it helps to start with precooked grains and a dressing that can do double duty as a topping. I like to use 90-second microwave packs of mixed grains (there are plenty of options at most grocery stores that include at least brown rice and another whole grain) as my base. You can heat these up while assembling the rest of the ingredients for the bowls.

That double-duty dressing starts with a ripe avocado, oil and lemon juice. Thinly slice a second avocado to use as a topping. You’ll get creamy richness that mixes into the grains, plus chunky slivers that add texture. For my other toppings, I stick with ingredients that don’t need much preparation: precooked and peeled beets (they only need a quick chop) and hearty mixed salad greens (these add complexity of flavor and a bit of crunch and color). You can switch up these two additions as you like: jarred marinated artichokes would work in lieu of beets, and any boxed pre-washed green, such as arugula or watercress, can sub for the hearty greens.

To assemble, I like to start with the greens so they wilt just a touch under the heat of the warm grains. Shingle the avocado and beets on as artfully as you’d like — a messy grain bowl is just as delicious as an Instagram-ready one — and add plenty of bright green dressing.

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Quick Grain Bowl with Avocado Dressing
  • 2 large ripe avocados, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt
  • 2 (8.5-ounce) packages 90-second microwave mixed grains
  • 1 (4- to 5-ounce) container hearty mixed baby greens
  • 1 (8.8-ounce) package precooked beets, sliced into bite-sized wedges, at room temperature
  • Slice one of the avocados in half, remove the pit, and scoop the flesh into a medium bowl. Mash thoroughly with a fork, and then stir in the olive oil and lemon juice. Mix well and season to taste with salt. If needed, thin the dressing out with water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the dressing is thin enough to drizzle. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
  • Microwave the grains following the package directions.
  • Divide the greens between serving bowls and top with the rice and beets. Slice the remaining avocado and add to the bowls. Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately. Serves 2 to 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving, based on 2: 754 calories (percent of calories from fat, 50), 17 grams protein, 84 grams carbohydrates, 22 grams fiber, 44 grams total fat (6 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 701 milligrams sodium.
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