Vegan Grain Bowl

Ready to be truly surprised? This vegan grain bowl is just delicious, it comes together pretty quickly, allows for lots of creativity, and you won’t be able to stop eating at just one bowl. Don’t skip the very last step in this recipe…Add the balsamic vinegar like a real chef and you will not be disappointed. At our house, my kids and husband will dish up heaping bowls, but then their bowls are nudged towards me with hopeful looks in their eyes and the bottle of balsamic placed on the counter. The balsamic makes the entire recipe pop in unexpected ways, but you have to add just the right amount, drizzling it on top of your grains.

I like to use a combination of rice and barley in this recipe, however you can always swap out one or the other, especially if you are wanting to make this dish gluten free. Our daughter-in-law is gluten free, so if she was coming to dinner, I would exclude the barley and add more rice, perhaps choosing a brown or wild rice combination.  

Cooking Tips…

  • Red peppers make a nice flavor and color profile in this recipe, however it is fine to substitute yellow or orange peppers. Sometimes, I use a poblano if I want a bit of kick in the recipe. 
  • Try to buy locally grown carrots, they should be normal-sized, not giant store-bought carrots.
  • Don’t overcook your sweet potato, you want it to keep its shape.
  • I suggest cooking potatoes and sweet potatoes ahead of time, maybe on the weekend, and then using in recipes throughout the week.
  • You really can get creative here, try to maintain a nice color palette for your bowl. Sometimes, I don’t have zucchini, so I will substitute another vegetable. The other night, I used eggplant and I didn’t have potatoes in the house, so I just used sweet potatoes. If the cupboards are really sparse, you can even throw in a bag of frozen mixed vegetables, but the flavor will not be as good as if you used fresh veggies. 
  • Vegan Grain Bowl


    • Olive Oil
    • 2 Cups Cooked Jasmine Rice (Prepared ahead or set up while sautéing veggies)
    • 1 Cup Cooked Barley (Prepared ahead or set up while sautéing veggies)
    • 4 Carrots (Sliced into rounds, small pieces)
    • 1/2 Red Pepper (Diced)
    • 1 Shallot (Diced)
    • 2 Zucchini (Diced)
    • 1 Potato (Cooked and diced)
    • 1 Sweet Potato (Cooked and diced)
    • Can of Garbanzo Beans
    • 1/2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
    • 1 – 2 tsp Cumin
    • 1 – 2 tsp Turmeric
    • 1/2 Cup Red Lentils (Optional. if using, cook separately and add)
    • 1 Cup Fresh Spinach
    • 1 Cup Frozen Corn
    • 1 Cup Frozen Peas
    • Salt 
    • Red Pepper Flakes
    • Balsamic Vinegar


    Set up your rice and barley to cook in separate pots. Typically, I have brown rice and barley cooked from my prep during the weekend.

    Put a glug of olive oil in a 5 quart copper pot. (Or other heavy bottomed pan.) Add in the carrots and red pepper and sauté for five minutes. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent. Add the zucchini, perhaps you need a bit more oil to keep things moving. Let everything caramelize a bit, scraping the bottom bits in the pan. 

    Add the potato, sweet potato, garbanzo beans, rice, barley and stir well. Add more olive oil if needed. Add tomato paste, cumin, turmeric, lentils (if using), spinach, corn, and peas. Let everything come together, wilting the spinach, and stirring well. 

    At this point your lovely grains should smell amazing! Let everything come together for a bit longer. Taste the grains for salt and add some red pepper flakes. 

    Now, here is the step you must NOT skip. After dishing up the grains, top each plated dish with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Okay, dig in!

    What’s in my kitchen?

    MY NAME IS…Colleen Mallory

    Thank you for visiting my blog! My name is Colleen Mallory. I dream about cooking…I love thinking about how flavors meld together or how to make a recipe better. When I am not dreaming about cooking, I sew, knit, read, my hobbies are pretty endless actually. Join me on this journey. 

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