Put It In a Bowl

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Bowl meals have become a staple for many people. They are quick, tasty, versatile and can be healthy. Make them from fresh, frozen or leftover ingredients. Whatever you have on hand. They can be a quick dinner—and make extras for lunch tomorrow.

The formula is simple—but just use this a guide. Be flexible. Add whatever you have on hand or how much time you have. The possibilities are endless. They can be served warm or cold or a combination. Set out all of the components and let family members build their own bowl, it is a great way to get the kids or guests involved.

Base—some sort of grain (whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa make it healthier). Make extra the next time you cook and save it in the freezer for bowls. About ½-3/4 cup per bowl.

Vegetables—these can be cooked or raw. Try roasting a big batch on the weekend and then reheat or eat cold in your bowl. Allow at least ½-1 cup veggies per bowl.

Proteins –beans, chickpea, leftover rotisserie chicken, other cooked lean meat or
seafood. Try hard-cooked eggs or quickly cook one for each bowl. These can be served hot or cold. About 2-4 ounces per bowl.

Sauce— condiments or dressings can really make these bowls spectacular. Look for
what you have on hand. Try pesto, salsa, tahini, barbeque or peanut sauce.

Toppings— cheese, spices, dried fruits, nuts or seeds. These add crunch and variety.
Pick two or three favorites.

You don’t need to rely upon recipes to make bowls because there really aren’t any rules. Just be creative and put food together that you like and what taste good together.

This is Morgan McKnight Marshall demonstrating the how to cut the “top and tail” from a butternut squash to make it easier to peel and cut.

But, to get you started, here’s a recipe for a harvest-themed bowl that was recently
shared by Morgan Marshall, EMFV Program Manager and Local Food Communications.

Assistant with N.C. Cooperative Extension. Marshall demonstrated this on an on-line
continuing education training for our Extension Master Food Volunteers. The goal of the training was to share new ideas for using local fall produce. Note: some of you may remember Morgan McKnight Marshall, she was our Family and Consumer Science Extension Agent here in Brunswick County several years ago.

The star of this recipe is the butternut squash. This winter squash is readily available this time of year. This squash can be dauting because of its density and difficulty in cutting. She recommends taking the “top” and “tail” off to get a flat even surface to allow for easy cutting. She peeled with a knife, but you could use a vegetable peeler.

Couscous is the base used in this recipe. She selected this because it is unique and
unknown to many. Couscous can be considered either a grain or a pasta, but its small size makes it perfect for a bowl. Couscous cooks quickly and has a very mild flavor so very versatile. It’s high in protein and fiber compared to other pasta.

This recipe uses chicken sausage, but you could use any type of protein such as chicken, andouille sausage or ground beef. Or could leave out the protein completely to make it vegetarian.

Harvest Couscous Bowls

  • ½ butternut squash, remove the seeds and cut into 1” cubes
  • 1 medium/large sweet potato, peel and cut into 1” cubes
  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts, wash, remove ends and cut in half
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 2-3 cups cooked couscous
  • ½ – 1 pound chicken sausage links, cut into slices (or meat of choice)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 Tablespoons pine nuts or sunflower seeds for topping (optional)

Dijon Dressing:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • Juice of ½ lemon (2 Tablespoons)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Chop veggies and place on sheet plan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt.

Bake 400 degrees for 35 minutes or until veggies are done.

While veggies are cooking, chop chicken sausage and sauté over medium heat.

Prepare couscous according to package directions.

For dressing, combine all ingredients in small bowl and mix until combined.

Once veggies are done, layer couscous, vegetables, sausage into serving bowls. Top with drizzle of dressing and pine nuts. Makes 4 bowls.

Syracuse is a Family and Consumer Science team member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center 910-253-2610 or by email at