With the publication of her second book, “Bowl + Spoon” (Ten Speed Press, $25), Sara Forte of San Juan Capistrano again manages to be a bit ahead of the culinary curve, just as she was with the first book growing out of her super-successful food blog, “The Sprouted Kitchen” (Ten Speed Press, 2012). Her personal take on cooking with whole foods tapped into a well of interest that’s only grown since. (You can read my Taste of Orange County post about the first book here.) The books and blog are products of absolutely symbiotic teamwork between Sara and husband Hugh, whose dreamy photography illustrates.
The prescience continues with “Bowl + Spoon.” Forte seems to have an almost eerie sense of how people want to eat right now—maybe because it’s how she herself likes to eat. As she says in the introduction to “Bowl + Spoon,” it was Hugh who suggested that “bowl foods” were her specialty. Though slightly abashed at first, she quickly realized he was right, and embraced the idea. Her produce-forward but not-entirely-vegetarian style is ideal for whole-grain-based one-bowl dishes, especially because she insists on big flavors and textural contrast.
Chapters range from breakfast to sides to sweets, but it’s in the chapter on “Big Bowls” that we get the best lessons. The recipe for her Hippie Bowl follows. It calls for millet, a favorite grain of mine, though Forte makes a point of encouraging customization—you could substitute brown rice or quinoa. The accompanying tahini-miso dressing is a flavor bomb, in the best possible way. (Strong flavors are Forte’s forte—in her 10-recipe sauces and dressings chapter there’s one for any cooked grain or vegetable you may have.) One way we know this tofu-and-nut bowl delivers big flavor: It’s Hugh’s pick, and his favorite food is cheeseburgers.
“The Sprouted Kitchen” fans know to expect somewhat unusual ingredients like coconut sugar, but there’s nothing a well-stocked natural foods market or Trader Joe’s can’t furnish, and the book’s “A Whole Foods Pantry” section is full of helpful information. Between books, the couple welcomed baby Curran, now a year old. The new book is dedicated to him, and he’s sure to be an inspiration for future Forte food.
Hippie Bowl from “Bowl + Spoon”
I use the word hippie with utmost endearment. I feel like sprouts, sunflower seeds, tofu, and avocado are all items that came from the original health food trends, and we are embracing them here in this light bowl meal.–Sara Forte
(Makes 4 servings)
¼ cup coconut sugar
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
3 tablespoons sambal oelek (chile paste)
1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 (14-ounce) packages firm tofu
1 cup millet
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups stemmed, chopped kale
4 cups (about 5 ounces) baby spinach
Juice of ½ lemon
4 carrots, shaved into ribbons
1 cup sprouts (broccoli, pea, or microgreens)
2 avocados, peeled and quartered
Spiced Sunflower Seeds (recipe follows)
Tahini Citrus Miso Dressing (recipe follows)
In a shallow dish, whisk together coconut sugar, soy sauce, sambal oelek, vinegar, and sesame oil. Drain and press tofu between layers of folded dishtowel to absorb any excess liquid. Cut each block into 1-inch squares; toss them in marinade and let soak for at least 30 minutes—a few hours is even better—flipping them halfway through. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
In small pot over medium-low heat, add millet and toast for a few minutes, until you hear them start to pop. Add broth, bring to boil, turn down to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 to 18 minutes, until millet is tender. Turn off heat, remove lid, fluff with fork, and stir in 1 tablespoon of oil. Cover again and let sit until ready to use.
Spread tofu on rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. (It’s OK if marinade drips.) Bake 20 to 25 minutes, tossing halfway through, until edges are browned.
To sauté greens, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in large skillet. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add kale and spinach in batches with lemon juice and a pinch of salt and sauté just until wilted, about 2 minutes.
Assemble bowl with a portion of millet, then add other toppings in quadrants on top: tofu, greens, carrot ribbons, sprouts. Top with some avocado, a hearty sprinkle of spiced sunflower seeds, and a generous drizzle of tahini dressing.
Spiced Sunflower Seeds
¾ cup raw sunflower seeds
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon muscovado sugar
Heat nonstick skillet over medium heat and toast sunflower seeds until just fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add salt, cayenne, and sugar and toss until sugar is hot enough to stick to seeds, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to piece of parchment and spread out in single layer to cool. Seeds can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in airtight container.
Tahini Citrus Miso Dressing
(Makes about 1 cup)
½ cup tahini
2 tablespoons white or yellow miso
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons Sriracha or hot sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1 large orange (about ½ cup)\
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Lemon juice, to taste
In mixing bowl, whisk together tahini, miso, honey, sesame oil, and Sriracha. Whisk in vinegar, orange juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Thin with water or lemon juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed. Taste and adjust seasoning. Dressing will keep, covered, in fridge 2 weeks.
Reprinted with permission from Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon by Sara Forte, copyright © 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.” Photography credit: Hugh Forte © 2015