Allow me to introduce you to your new favorite bowl of food.
That’s right. You didn’t know that this was going to be your newest fav dinner. But I’m calling it.
While this rice bowl has a lot going on in terms of all the components, each component alone is simple to prepare. With a little planning and do-ahead prep, this is easily a meal that can be prepared on a weeknight and eaten for a couple nights in a row (or as a cold lunch the next day!).
I wanted to create a meal with TONS going on to showcase just how endless the possibilities are when it comes to meals like this. If you’re short on time or don’t have all the ingredients on hand, then omit some until you have what works for you. It’s as simple as that, folks.
I’m a BIG fan of rice bowls and grew up eating a far simplified version of this. Still, to this day, even after all the cooking and meals I’ve enjoyed, a good ol’ rice bowl is one of the most perfect comfort foods on earth. When I don’t know what to make for dinner, I often do a riff on beans and rice (especially if my husband is away or working late. He’s not the biggest fan of beans). If I am feeling like comfort food without a ton of guilt, this sort of meal fits the bill big time. It’s hearty and comforting but feels healthy and light with all the varying flavors and textures…in my brain, it sort of mimics a salad that way. Except that this salad swaps out greens for rice. Have no fear, though! It’s still plenty good for you.
This particular rice bowl starts with steak. Steak marinated in my family’s all-time favorite/go-to concoction. I’ve talked about this marinade before, and today, my tune is still the same. It’s incredible how much flavor gets into the meat, and the longer it marinates, the better! Which means, you can easily prep this step the night before. Or, if you’re not feeling beef and the longer wait time, just use some grilled chicken breast or even tofu! Or just up the beans as your main protein! Really, whatever works for you is fine.
The succulent, juicy steak gets thinly sliced and served over the best cheesy base ever: cheddar rice! I kept mine as healthy as possible by using a brown Jasmine rice and reduced-fat milk, but go wild if you’re feeling indulgent. Between the milk and cheese, this rice tasted plenty decadent to us. I could easily see this being used in a ton of ways. The versatility is incredible! In burritos. With stir fry. In a rice bowl like this one! Really, the possibilities are endless once you get that rice base down. This just so happens to be our favorite version.
And then, once you’ve got your rice and protein figured out, go buck wild. You can top this with just about anything you have on hand. My favorite toppings are sautéed peppers and onions, this corn and tomato salad (it’s like a salsa without the heat!), sliced avocado, and tons of fresh herbs and lime juice over top. Oh! And let’s not forget the chipotle yogurt drizzle!
SO. MUCH. FLAVOR.
If I can make one suggestion, it would be that you make the chipotle yogurt. It adds a creamy (but still healthy!) element and some much-needed spice. It kind of rounds everything out, and my husband said that it totally made the dish for him. In fact, he used a rather obscene amount of the yogurt on his rice bowls. Again, as with many of the other components, it can be made days ahead and brought out just when you’re ready to serve.
My favorite way to approach a dish like this is to plan as much as possible and to take a half hour or so on a Sunday afternoon to prep things. I marinate the steak, make the chipotle yogurt, make the corn salad, and even grate the cheese for the rice ahead of time. That way, come Monday, after a long workday, all I have to do is cook off the steak on the grill and make some rice! The rest of it comes together in no time. Just a little slicing and dicing and you’re good to go.
That’s how I like my Monday dinners to come together. This one is a fav in our house, and I’m confident it will be in yours as well.
¼ cup canola oil
⅓ cup soy sauce
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1 (1-1.5 lb) flank steak
1½ cups rice (I used a brown jasmine)
1½ cups water
1½ cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 canned chipotle chile, plus 2 teaspoons of the adobo sauce from the can
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ tablespoons Greek yogurt or sour cream
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch of cumin
Pinch of salt
1 (15-oz) can drained and rinsed pinto or black beans, warmed
Sautéed onions and peppers
Chopped cilantro or parsley
Mix the ingredients for the marinade together in a shallow baking dish. Add the steak and toss to coat in the marinade. Cover and place in the fridge for 4-8 hours. (TIP: this is a great time to prep the corn-tomato salad and chipotle drizzle. They both get better the longer they hang out in the fridge).
Preheat the grill to high. Remove the steak from the marinade and place on the hot grill. Grill for 3-4 minutes per side, or to desired doneness.
Remove from the grill, tent with foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes before thinly slicing into strips.
While the steak is cooking, add the rice, water, milk, and butter to a medium saucepan. Place over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, and then cover and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes (check your rice package for recommended cook time) or until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed.
Fluff the rice with a fork and then stir in the cheddar cheese, working quickly so the residual heat will melt the cheese. Add another splash of milk or water, as needed, to get the rice really creamy. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Keep warm until you are ready to serve.
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until completely combined and smooth. Check for seasoning. The sauce can be made ahead and stored in the fridge.
Divide the rice between serving bowls and top with the steak and other desired components. Drizzle everything with the chipotle sauce and garnish with fresh herbs, scallions, and a spritz of fresh lime juice. Serve immediately.