It’s not an exaggeration to say that buddha bowls changed my life. The first time I tasted garlicky lemon tahini on a pile of roasted veggies, I knew that vegetables were going to be my new religion. In this post, I’ll teach you how to create a buddha bowl and possibly change your life too.
Uhhh… I was going to say that even though they have the name “buddha” in the title this tasty meal has no religious connection, but I do seem to be proselytising about bowls of vegetables covered in sauce. But seriously, come join our cult. We have tahini sauce.
Why are they called Buddha Bowls?
I’ve heard lots of different explanations for this. My favorite is the story of how the Buddha used to eat, supposedly “he would wake up before dawn and walk about with his bowl among the local people. They, in turn, would give away what they could spare and Buddha would then eat the resulting mix from his bowl—a small quantity of curry perhaps, a few different vegetables, rice” (source). I am no Buddhist scholar and don’t know how true this is, but it’s a nice story. I’ve also heard the name attributed to the appearance of a bowl of veggies which is “packed so full that it has a rounded ‘belly’ appearance on the top much like the belly of a buddha” (source). Whatever the origin, I am obsessed.
What is a Buddha Bowl?
As the Buddha story above illustrates, there is no recipe for a buddha bowl. It’s about gathering odds and ends together in a bowl. The idea is not to seek out fancy new ingredients or to try to recreate exactly what you see in someone else’s bowl, the beauty of this meal is in the opportunity for creativity and resourcefulness.
In my mind though, it’s not a buddha bowl without some kind of yummy sauce drizzled all over it (preferably my favorite 2-minute garlicky tahini sauce). Maybe that’s not true to the original concept and just an association I’ve come to have, but I’m gonna stand by it.
Wait… how is a buddha bowl different from a salad?
Good question. The distinction is a bit arbitrary, but I think of bowls as having a more complete, satisfying, and hearty quality to them and are often warm. I think of salads as lighter, and more on the fresh, raw side.
Formula for Creating Your Own Buddha Bowl
If you’re a buddha bowl newbie, I recommend starting with this formula:
Greens or Grains + Roasted Veggies + Chickpeas + Dreamy Tahini
Use the odds and ends from the kitchen for this meal. Use up produce that’s about to go bad. Use grains from the back of the pantry, use potatoes from the bag in the garage, or wherever. Use herbs and bounty from the garden. Make it YOURS!
Each buddha bowl is unique, impermanent, and an expression of the state of your life, kitchen, and world as it is today. Let there be no rules!
I take that back… the only rule is that if you haven’t tried my 2-minute, 3-ingredient tahini sauce on top of roasted vegetables, you need to do that immediately. Recipe here.
More Delicious Bowl Ideas & Inspiration
If you’re looking for some more variety in your buddha bowl game, check out any of these recipes:
Now go forth and put delicious things in a bowl, pour sauce all over them, and let your heart fill with gratitude and your belly with nourishment. Enjoy!
Build Your Own Buddha Bowl
Basic Buddha Bowl
- 2 cups chickpeas, or white beans, cooked or canned
- 1 lb roasting veggies, e.g. butternut squash, brussels sprouts, beets, zucchini, bell peppers, sunchokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus
- 1 bunch dark greens, e.g. kale, baby kale, spinach, swiss chard, power greens
- 1 handful sprouts, e.g. lentil, mung bean, sunflower, alfalfa, broccoli, clover, pea, etc.
- 1 avocado, sliced, optional
- 2 tbsp nuts or seeds, to garnish, e.g. pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds,
Veggies & Greens
- Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- Line a large sheet pan or baking sheet with parchment paper (not wax paper!)
- Distribute the veggies in a single layer, giving them space. Lightly drizzle oil on them (they don’t need much because of the parchment paper) and generously salt and pepper them with good quality sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Toss and stir on the pan to coat.
- Roast for 25 to 40 minutes (depending on the veggies and size of dice) or until fork tender.
- If desired, cook the greens briefly by sautéing them or steaming them for a minute or two, until wilted and bright. Or enjoy them raw!
Make the Tahini Sauce
- Whisk the ingredients together in a cup with a fork. Adjust with water, 1 Tbsp at a time, until a pourable consistency.
- Adjust garlic and lemon to your liking.
- If you find the sauce too bitter, add a splash of olive oil, honey, or maple syrup.
Assemble Your Bowls
- Build your bowl by creating a delicious pile of greens, beans, roasted veggies, sprouts, and any extra garnishes.
- Drizzle with the sauce, admire the colors and abundant, nourishing produce, and feel grateful and happy.