Meat, potato, and vegetable meals, it’s time to make room for grain bowls . . . and especially this wild rice grain bowl with kale and roasted winter vegetables!
My mom had a pretty standard menu for our family’s dinner meals. There was the occasional three bean casserole or goulash. But most often it was a meat, potatoes, and vegetable meal – sometimes with a green salad. While we may have had wild rice in a dish once or twice, we never, ever had kale. The green salad was usually chopped ice berg lettuce, or leaf lettuce from the garden, tossed with a few tomatoes and cucumbers. And never was the salad mixed with the meat, potatoes, or cooked veggies.
Those meals will always have a place in my heart. After all, Mom was a good cook, and I liked food . . . still do. But my tastes have expanded. And my desire for meals centered more on veggies and grains drives more of our meals today.
That’s why grain bowls are so great. You can make them as veggie-centric as you want. And once you know how to build one, you can mix and match flavors and textures as much as you want! Don’t care for kale? Try another leafy green, like spinach or romaine. Not fond of wild rice? Use farro, quinoa, or another favorite grain. And if you’re not keen on the sauce or dressing called for in a recipe, make your own or use a favorite store-bought brand. The choice truly is yours.
Since wild rice is super yummy, and I like the chewy texture, I used it as the base for this grain bowl. Plus, did you know that wild rice isn’t really a type of rice at all? It actually comes from an aquatic grass and is grown here in the States in the upper Midwest.
What Makes it Healthy?
Nutritionally, it scores high with one cup of cooked wild rice providing 6 grams of protein, almost 3 grams of fiber, and good amounts of nutrients like manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, and zinc. What’s more, the protein is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids – something most grains lack. And it’s considered a whole grain and provides some nice heart healthy antioxidants.
I also tossed in some kale. It’s one of those greens that holds its own in grain bowls without wilting too much. It’s also one of the most nutrient dense foods you can find, with one cup of chopped kale providing just 33 calories and 2 grams of fiber. It’s an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, and good source of several minerals and antioxidants. Roasted winter vegetables, chicken breast, and homemade balsamic vinaigrette top this wild rice grain bowl. They balance out the flavors and textures nicely to make a super yummy grain bowl.
I know, it sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Don’t let that keep you from trying this recipe! In fact, prep the ingredients ahead of time and use them in these wild rice grain bowls, or other dishes, throughout the week. Warm or cold, they make a great portable lunch. Though if you want it warm, keep the kale out and add it after reheating the other ingredients.
So, if you haven’t yet tried making a grain bowl, why not start with this nourishing wild rice grain bowl with kale and roasted winter vegetables? I think you’ll love it! And when you make it, let me know in the comments below or tag me on Instagram. I’d love to hear how it turns out!
Time saving tips:
- Choose one day to prep ingredients for all your meals in the coming week – including the wild rice, vegetables, and chicken for these wild rice grain bowls.
- Purchase squash, carrots, and beets that are already cleaned, peeled and cut. This will save a lot of prep time.
- Use baby kale in place of massaged kale. That way you eliminate the need to chop and massage the kale.
- Use a store-bought balsamic dressing or just use plain balsamic vinegar to top the bowl instead of making your own vinaigrette
Wild Rice Grain Bowl with Kale and Roasted Winter Vegetables
- 1 cup raw wild rice
- 3 cups water
- 3½ cups peeled and cubed butternut squash, cut into 1" pieces Time saving tip: purchase already peeled and cut squash
- 2½ cups carrots, peeled and cut into 1" pieces (about 4-5 carrots) Time saving tip: purchase already peeled and cut carrots
- 2 cups golden or red beets, peeled and cut into 1" pieces (about 4 small to medium beets) Time saving tip: purchase already peeled and cut beets
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into thick slices Time saving tip: grill whole chicken breasts and then slice before serving
- 1 ½ Tbsp. Olive oil, divided
- 1/8 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1 tsp. Dried basil
- 1 tsp. Dried thyme
- 1 tsp. Lemon pepper
- 1/8 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
- 3 cups kale, torn into small pieces and massaged with 1 tsp. lemon juice Time saving tip: use baby kale instead of tearing and massaging
- 6 Tbsp. Chopped walnuts
- 6 Tbsp. Dried cranberries
- 4 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
- 3 Tbsp. Lavender balsamic vinegar (or use plain balsamic)
- 1 tsp. Herbs de Provence
- ¼ tsp. dijon mustard
- dash kosher salt
- Rinse the raw wild rice and place in a medium sauce pan with the 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 40-45 minutes until rice is tender and water is absorbed. Remove from heat and drain any excess water.
- While rice is cooking, preheat oven to 400° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Clean and cut the squash, carrots, and beets and place into a large bowl.
- Mix 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil with the 1/8 tsp. kosher salt, the basil, and the thyme. Drizzle over the cut vegetables and stir till all pieces are coated with the mixture. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet and roast at 400° F for 35 to 40 minutes, until vegetables are tender, but not mushy. Remove from oven.
- Line a smaller rimmed baking sheet with foil. Cut chicken into 1"-2" chunks. Place in bowl and stir in 1 ½ tsp. olive oil, lemon pepper, and pepper. Pour onto prepared baking sheet and roast at 400° F for about 20 to 25 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Remove from oven
- While vegetables and chicken are roasting, make the balsamic by placing the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, herbs de provence, dijon mustard, and dash of salt in small dish. Wisk together throuroughly or blend using a hand blender.
- To build bowls, place the following into each bowl: ¾ c. prepared kale, 2/3 c. cooked wild rice, 1 c. roasted vegetables, 1/3 c. cooked chicken, 1 1/2 Tbsp. walnuts, and 1 1/2 Tbsp. dried cranberries. Top with 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinaigrette and serve.