Whenever I’m seeking comfort at dinnertime, I usually end up with a hodgepodge of quinoa, vegetables and some tahini sauce with enough accoutrements to make up for the initial simplicity.  It's a meal I have on repeat, changing up the grain or type of lentil depending on what I have on hand.  They’re uncomplicated, nourishing meals that do the trick when you need warmth (literally and figuratively) in a bowl.

When I’m really in the mode to make “weeknight” dinner into something a little more spectacular than a Topanga Canyon macro bowl, enter preserved lemons.  These salty-sweet lemons are the older/wiser cousin of fresh lemons with an almost indescribable aroma.   Although usually found at specialty food stores, it’s just as easy to make them at home (with a little or a lot of patience). You can make them authentically, quick-preserved or even “pickled” like Ottolenghi. I use them most in my self-described "hippie bowls" to add something lively (when you need some extra inspiration in your life). It's a weeknight win-win.

Grain Bowl with Preserved Lemons (gluten-free, dairy-free opt.) Serves 4

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 1 cup tri-color quinoa
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
  • 3 preserved lemons, rinds only & diced small (save pulp for another use)
  • 4-5 kale leaves, de-stemmed and chopped 
  • 1 small bunch of parsley, roughly chopped (about 1/2 cup chopped)
  • 5-6 sprigs of fresh mint, chopped
  • 8 dried apricots, diced
  • 3 oz. feta, crumbled
  • Black sesame gomasio, to top (optional)
  • Sea salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper

Tahini Miso Dressing:

  • 2/3 cup tahini
  • 1 tablespoon white miso paste
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon tamari
  • 1/3-1/2 cup water, depending on desired consistency

In a saucepan, add chickpeas and enough water to cover by about 4 inches.  Bring to a boil, then cover and let sit for one hour.  This method is a quick way to eliminate soaking overnight. Once the hour is up, bring to a boil then simmer until tender, about 45 minutes.  Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside to cool.

In another saucepan, add quinoa, 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 14-16 minutes or until fluffy.  Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk all dressing ingredients together until smooth & desired consistency.

In a large serving bowl, add chickpeas, cooled quinoa, sunflower seeds, diced preserved lemons, kale, herbs, and dried apricot.  Season to taste with sea salt and pepper and mix well to combine.  Top the grain bowl with crumbled feta and gomasio (optional).  Finish each serving with a generous drizzle of tahini miso dressing.  Serve immediately!