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Leftovers: Buddha bowls bring everyone to the dining table

Buddha bowls are a leftovers wonder that can be as creative as your taste buds.  (Courtesy of Julia Ditto)
Buddha bowls are a leftovers wonder that can be as creative as your taste buds. (Courtesy of Julia Ditto)
By Julia Ditto For The Spokesman-Review

In most families, it seems like there is always that one person who is the glue, the one who holds everyone else together. They can take Grandpa Earl with his far-out politics, cousin Fiona with her nose rings and mystic crystals and Aunt Emily with her multiple doctorate degrees and somehow get them to sit around the table and talk as if they have everything in common.

I think the same is true for food. There have been so many times when I’ve opened up my fridge wondering what I could throw together for dinner, and all I’ve found are a couple of grilled chicken breasts here, a handful of spinach there and maybe some roasted vegetables or leftover rice or half a cucumber.

Alone, none of these ingredients is enough to make up a whole – let alone a delicious – meal. But put all the ingredients artfully together in a bowl and add a little figurative “glue,” aka dressing, and you’ve got a dinner that will get everyone to the table in no time at all.

It’s called a Buddha Bowl: a leftover-harnessing wonder that can be as creative as your taste buds and refrigerator offerings allow. Typical ingredients include a grain (like rice or quinoa), some kind of protein, leafy greens and diced vegetables.

More or less can be added based on what you have on hand, but there’s really not a right or wrong way to do it. Just make sure you drizzle a delicious dressing all over the top of your Buddha Bowl before you dig in, and your taste buds will be in seventh heaven.

My family’s favorite way to enjoy Buddha Bowls is by loading individual shallow bowls with diced grilled honey chicken, a scoop of rice, a handful of spinach, a spoonful of roasted sweet potatoes and onions and a sprinkling of chopped cucumber, avocado and cilantro. Then we drizzle everything with a creamy, tangy, Thai-inspired peanut sauce.

Take just one bite, and you’ll agree that these Buddha Bowls taste even better than a harmonious family reunion feels. Just make sure to let Grandpa Earl take the first bite; he gets a little grumpy if he has to wait his turn.

Favorite Grilled Honey Chicken

Adapted from allrecipes.com.

4 boneless chicken breast halves

¼ cup olive oil

½ cup granulated sugar

½ tablespoon honey

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon dried parsley

1 pinch dried sage

Add all the ingredients (except the chicken) to a gallon-size zip-top bag and knead with your hands until combined. The mixture will be thick. Add chicken to the bag and continue kneading the bag until the mixture is evenly distributed over the chicken. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Preheat a grill to medium heat and then lightly oil the grate. Discard the marinade and place the chicken on the grill. Cook until the exterior is caramelized and the chicken is cooked through.

Creamy Peanut Sauce

Adapted from melskitchencafe.com.

⅓ cup fresh lime juice

¼ cup creamy peanut butter

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer the dressing to a pourable container and refrigerate until ready to use. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for several days.

Julia Ditto can be reached at dittojulia@gmail.com.

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