So I was sitting around last night watching the newest season of Master of None when I should have been figuring out what I was going to cook this week. But then inspiration hit when a character in the show made a joke about how bougie young women in NYC are obsessed with grain bowls. After my initial defensive, “Hey, grain bowls are delicious AND healthy!” my brain switched to, “Oh, I definitely need to make a grain bowl tomorrow.” So I spent the rest of the evening brainstorming about these Sweet Potato Grain Bowls with Green Tahini Sauce.
What is a “Grain Bowl”?
A grain bowl is simply a salad that uses some type of cooked grain as the base instead of salad greens. They usually feature a variety of colors, textures, and flavors, which makes them super fun to eat and usually ends up offering a bunch of nutritional value in the process. The other great thing about grain bowls is that they’re perfect for meal prep, which is good because I seriously need to get back on track with my eating after traveling two out of the last three weeks. Ouch.
What Other Grains Can I Use?
I started my Sweet Potato Grain Bowls with cooked bulgur because it’s cheap, easy to cook, and I absolutely love the flavor and texture. Bulgur is simply wheat berries that have been broken up into pieces (just like steel-cut oats, but with wheat berries instead of oat berries). I love how the cooked texture is slightly chewy and the flavor is nutty. That being said, you can literally use any grain in its place. Brown or wild rice, farro, barley, or even quinoa (which is technically a seed). In a pinch, you can even do a tiny pasta like couscous or orzo.
Sweet Potato Grain Bowls with Green Tahini Sauce
- 1 cup uncooked bulgur* ($0.93)
- 2 lbs. sweet potatoes ($1.97)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.26)
- 1 pinch salt and pepper ($0.05)
- 1 15oz. can black beans ($0.79)
- 1 avocado ($1.50)
- 1 jalapeño ($0.12)
- 1/4 cup pepitas ($0.60)
GREEN TAHINI SAUCE
- 1/3 cup tahini ($1.08)
- 1/3 cup water ($0.00)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice ($0.18)
- 1 clove garlic ($0.08)
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin ($0.05)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.02)
- 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
- 1 cup fresh cilantro (loosely packed) ($0.50)
- 1 cup fresh parsley (loosely packed) ($0.50)
- Add the uncooked bulgur to a sauce pot and place it over medium heat. Cook and stir the dry bulgur over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until it smells toasty or nutty, then remove it from the heat. Add two cups of water, stir to combine, place a lid on top, then bring it to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for about 12 minutes with the lid in place. Turn the heat off and let the bulgur rest for 5 minutes.
- Remove the lid from the pot and fluff the bulgur with a fork. Allow the bulgur to cool (I like to place it in the refrigerator without a lid to cool quickly and dry slightly).
- While the bulgur is simmering, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Peel and dice the sweet potatoes into 3/4-inch cubes. Place the cubed sweet potatoes on a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, then toss the cubes until they are coated with oil. Roast the sweet potatoes in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, give them a stir, then roast for an additional 10 minutes or until they are soft and slightly browned on the edges.
- While the sweet potatoes are roasting, prepare the green tahini sauce. Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor, and blend until the herbs are in very small pieces and the sauce becomes a light green color. Taste and adjust the salt if needed.
- Slice the avocado and jalapeño. Rinse and drain the black beans.
- To assemble the bowls, place 3/4-1 cup cooked and cooled bulgur in each bowl. Divide the sweet potatoes, black beans, avocado, and jalapeño even among the bowls. Sprinkle about 1 Tbsp pepitas over each bowl, then drizzle the green tahini sauce over everything. Be generous with the green tahini sauce as it is responsible for much of the flavor in this dish. If meal prepping, keep the green tahini sauce separate until just before serving.
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How to Make Sweet Potato Grain Bowls – Step by Step Photos
Begin by cooking your grain so that it has time to cool. I use this bulgur because I love the flavor and texture, and it’s super easy to cook.
Dry toasting your grain before adding the water gives it just a bit more flavor. Add 1 cup dry bulgur to your sauce pot and place it over medium heat. Cook while stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes, or until you begin to smell a toasty or nutty flavor, then remove it from the heat.
Add 2 cups water to the toasted bulgur, place a lid on the pot, then bring it up to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for about 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, turn the heat off and let it rest for about five minutes. Finally, remove the lid and fluff it with a fork (pictured above). Let the bulgur cool. I like to place mine in the refrigerator without a lid to speed up the cooling and to dry it out just slightly.
While the bulgur is simmering, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Peel and dice 2 lbs. sweet potatoes (about 3/4-inch cubes). Place them on a large baking sheet and drizzle with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, then toss the cubes until they are coated in oil.
Roast the sweet potatoes in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, give them a stir, then roast for an additional 1o minutes, or until they are soft and slightly browned on the edges.
While the sweet potatoes are roasting, prepare the green tahini sauce. Simply add 1/3 cup tahini, 1/3 cup water, 1/4 cup lemon juice, one clove of garlic, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp cayenne, 1/2 tsp salt, and one loosely pack cup each of cilantro leaves and parsley leaves to a food processor or blender. Blend the ingredients until the herbs are in tiny pieces and the sauce has taken on a light green hue. Taste and adjust the salt if needed.
Rinse and drain a 15oz. can of black beans. Slice one avocado and one jalapeño. To assemble the bowls, place about 3/4 to 1 cup bulgur in each of four bowls. Divide the sweet potatoes, black beans, jalapeño, and avocado among the four bowls. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp pepitas on top of each bowl.
I prepared one bowl in an actual bowl to eat for lunch today and prepped the rest in three resealable containers for the fridge. I’ll be eating these Sweet Potato Grain Bowls cold.
If you are meal prepping for the next few days, keep the green tahini sauce separate until just before serving. Otherwise, drizzle the sauce over each bowl. Be generous with the sauce because that’s where most of your flavor is coming in! The sauce is bright and tangy, but not at all too heavy like cream-based sauces.
And then dig in! Every bite has something new. :)