The bowl has long been a literal side dish to main plates, filled with foods that aren’t quite marquee events. But the popularity of the burrito bowl has given rise to a new era of circular entrées, with whole meals of protein, grains and vegetables, bound by broth or a sauce, tidily cradled in one vessel.
“A bowl lends itself to this style of clean but really substantial and satisfying eating,” says Lukas Volger, author of the new vegetarian cookbook Bowl (recipes below). Another bonus: fewer dishes to wash.
2 bunches Swiss chard
1 medium carrot, peeled
6 small radishes
1 tbsp. sugar
¾ tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. neutral-tasting oil, such as grape seed or canola
1 tsp. toasted-sesame oil
1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
5 cups cooked brown or white rice
Two 2-in. squares toasted nori
2 cups chopped bok choy
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
Kimchi and sriracha, for serving
Trim stems from the Swiss chard. Tear leaves into bite-size pieces and set aside. Slice half of the stems into 2-in. lengths, then into matchsticks. Transfer to a medium bowl.
Slice the cucumber into rounds, then stack and slice into matchsticks. Slice the carrot and radishes into thin rounds. Add the vegetables to the bowl with the chard stems. Toss with the sugar and salt and let stand for 20 min. Use a paper towel to blot dry, then toss with the rice vinegar.
Place a skillet over medium heat and add the neutral oil. With tongs, add the Swiss-chard leaves and cook down. Add a big pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 min., until wilted. Remove from heat and gently press the greens to one side of the pan; pour off any extracted liquid. Combine the chard in a bowl with the sesame oil and sesame seeds. Wipe out the skillet.
Wave the nori squares over the flame of a gas burner a few times, until the corners curl and turn crisp. Crumble with your fingers.
Scoop out rice and divide it among four bowls. Top with the chard, kimchi and avocado, then add the pickled vegetables. Garnish with nori and serve.
VEGETARIAN PHO BROTH
Makes 3 qt.
1 large onion, quartered
2 oz. fresh ginger
2 tbsp. peanut oil
2 medium leeks, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, coarsely chopped
1 medium daikon radish, peeled and coarsely chopped
10 garlic cloves, peeled
1 stalk fresh lemongrass, smashed and coarsely chopped
3 whole star anise
3 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
½ tsp. fennel seeds
5 dried shiitake mushrooms
Small handful of cilantro stems
Preheat the broiler. Arrange the onions and ginger on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil until charred all over, flipping them with tongs as needed.
Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, add the leeks, carrots, daikon, garlic, lemongrass, star anise, cloves, cinnamon and fennel seeds. Stir to coat in the oil, then cover and cook for 5 min., until fragrant. Coarsely chop the charred ginger, then add it, the onions and the mushrooms to the pot and cover with cold water (about 4 qt.). Bring to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for 1 hr., after which the broth should be strongly flavored. Add the cilantro stems and cook for an additional 5 min.
Strain the broth through a cheesecloth-lined sieve, in batches as necessary. Season with salt and sugar and serve, or pour the hot broth over individual bowls of cooked medium-width rice noodles, steamed bok choy, blanched peas, caramelized onions and thinly sliced chilies. Top with fresh herbs and serve with lime wedges.
To store leftover broth, cool completely and pack in containers. Keep in the fridge for up to 1 day or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
This appears in the May 23, 2016 issue of TIME.