One of my favorite ways to enjoy seasonal produce is in grain bowls. This week's Harvest Grain Bowl is the perfect example of how to incorporate delicious autumn fruits and vegetables into salads in a way that is satisfying, healthy and delicious. Grain bowls are super versatile and can be customized any way you like. As a dietitian, I love them because they're a great way to fit in all the essential food groups into one meal. And, they can help break up the monotony of your lunch or dinner routine. Most of the ingredients can be prepped and cooked in advance making them easy to assemble when hunger strikes.
Harvest Grain Bowl Ingredients
These bowls can be customized so many different ways. I love combining the sweetness of fruit with rustic, earthy vegetables.
- Quinoa- I used a mixed blend of red and white quinoa, but you can use any whole grain you enjoy. TIP*- make your grains ahead of time, store and refrigerate them. This way they'll be ready when you are.
- Lettuce- any lettuce will do here. I used a gorgeous red butter lettuce for this recipe. The colors are reminiscent of autumn.
- Butternut Squash- probably my favorite of all the autumn vegetables. I roast the squash in the oven with a little olive oil and salt prior to adding to the salad.
- Apples- a great way to use up those apples from apple picking. Any variety works with this recipe but I prefer sweet Honeycrisp apples.
- Pomegranate arils- add color, texture and of course an added fruity flavor.
- Sunflower seeds- nutty, earthy and so nutritious. A great way to get in those healthy fats.
I go through a ton of apple cider vinegar this time of year, mostly because I use it in all my salad dressings. Apple cider vinegar is the perfect blend of acid and fruitiness that I just love to mix with spices like cinnamon, maple syrup and nutmeg. Get the recipe for my favorite easy dressing here.
How to Assemble Grain Bowls
There is no right or wrong way to assemble a grain bowl. But, I do like to start with my greens and build it up with the remaining ingredients.
- Start with lettuce as your base.
- Then top the lettuce with a few scoops of cooked quinoa then the roasted butternut squash.
- Add the sliced apples.
- Sprinkle on the pomegranate arils, your favorite nuts or seeds.
- Drizzle on the dressing.
- Dig in!
Ideas for Grain Bowl Substitutions
Other great ideas for grain bowls include (in limitless combinations):
- Greens- arugula, kale, romaine lettuce, spinach, endive, radicchio.
- Grains- brown rice, barley, farro, whole grain couscous.
- Fruit- pears, oranges, sliced grapes, jackfruit.
- Veggies- peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots.
- Proteins- hummus, tofu, black beans, lentils, chickpeas, tempeh, vegan or regular cheeses like feta.
If you liked this recipe you may also enjoy Kale and Apple Salad with Quinoa Crisps and Pickled Beet Salad.
Harvest Grain Bowl
- 1 cup quinoa will make about 4 cups cooked quinoa
- 4-6 cups red butter lettuce or favorite lettuce/greens
- 1 butternut squash cut and cubed (use supermarket precut squash to save time) *
- 4 honeycrisp or granny smith apples sliced thin
- 1 cup pomegranate arils
- 4 tablespoon sunflower seeds
- favorite fall salad dressing
- coarse salt
- freshly ground pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Make the salad dressing and set aside or store in jar with lid.
- Cook quinoa according to instructions and set aside to cool slightly. (this step can be done in advance).
- While the quinoa is cooking, microwave squash for about 4-6 min (depending on size) on high on a microwave safe dish, turning the squash over half way through. You are NOT cooking the squash at this point. Microwaving will allow you to cut the skin off the squash much more easily. Remove from microwave and allow to cool before handling. Alternatively, you can buy precut butternut squash at the supermarket and skip this step and the next.
- With a sharp knife very carefully cut the skin off the squash, remove seeds and then cut into 1 inch cubes.
- Place squash on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and salt.
- Roast squash for about 20 minutes until cooked through and golden brown. Allow to cool slightly.
- Divide the ingredients between bowls (or store extra in tupperware) by adding the lettuce then the quinoa, apples, cooked squash, pomegranate and sprinkle on the sunflower seeds.
- Drizzle on the dressing and season to taste.
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