Today’s recipe is inspired by these bowls by Lauren from Climbing Grier Mountain. She shared them a couple months ago, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them since. I finally bit the bullet and made my own version. And it was so good, I knew immediately that I had to share it with you guys.
I am a huuuge fan of anything and everything BLT. Especially at this point in the summer when the tomatoes are just…to die for. Throw in some creamy mozzarella or buttery burrata cheese, and I’m done for. Oh, and let’s not forget the bacon! Genius move on Lauren’s part right there.
Not being a quinoa fan (I knooooow. Believe me, it’s one of those foods I HATE to hate. It’s a texture/taste combo that turns me off. Just like ‘shrooms.), I knew I wanted to do a riff on Lauren’s idea but with a different grain involved. I wanted something with tons of protein and fiber, too, so I actually felt full when I was done eating.
Because there’s nothing worse in this world than finishing a “healthy” dish and still feeling hungry. That’s when our good intentions go out the window and we get into trouble, right? That’s when the bag of potato chips or peanut butter cups in the pantry start hollering my name. I know I’m not the only one.
So, I went with a staple in our house, brown rice, but upped the nutritional profile even more by mixing in some lentils. I think lentils are one of the best grains. They’re hearty and slightly creamy and taste indulgent, all while being a superfood staple. I often associate lentils with cozy, cold-weather meals, but these caprese bowls are changing that thinking for sure. These are as summery as you can get.
The only thing missing is some fresh corn. Oooo, and maybe some buttery avocado!
Wait. I may have to make these again with those additions. Like, immediately.
This brings me to my next point: you can customize these however which way you want. Got some grilled chicken? Throw it in. Sliced steak? Oh yes. Even beans would be a fabulous addition here. I’m thinking something along the lines of cannellini beans. The cheese and veg components are totally your call as well, although I must say, the caprese theme in these bowls just makes them. Well, that, and the bacon. Duh.
Summer in a bowl. Easy peasy healthy perfection.
Need I say more?
1 cup brown rice
½ cup red lentils (any kind will work, red just happen to be my favorite)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped or torn
6 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled/chopped (totally optional – but I love the savory/salty edge it gives things)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
4 cups baby greens
6 oz fresh mozzarella cheese (or burrata!)
Fresh basil, for garnish
Balsamic glaze, for garnish
Place the rice in a small saucepan and add specified amount of water on package. Cook according to package directions. Do the same simultaneously with the lentils. Fluff the rice with a fork and drain any excess water from the lentils.
While the rice and lentils are cooking, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and sugar in a large bowl. Stream in the olive oil, whisking constantly. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Add the cooked rice and lentils while still warm to the bowl with the dressing. Toss to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Gently stir in the basil last.
Spoon some of the rice/lentil mixture into bowls and top with bacon crumbles, tomatoes, greens, cheese, and basil. Toss to gently combine. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Garnish each bowl with a drizzle of balsamic glaze and fresh basil leaves, as desired, and then serve!
To make this meal come together even faster, cook the rice and lentils ahead of time and toss with the dressing. Keep covered in the fridge until you are ready to serve. Reheat before serving. This is how I do meals like this one on weeknights. Take that half hour to meal prep on the weekend and your world will change! I promise!
This type of meal is excellent chilled from the fridge or reheated. I often pack this sort of thing up for a quick office lunch the next day as well. I love when meals can do double (or even triple!) duty.