Post ID: 757

energy bowl

Do you have a culinary challenge? Bring it on! The other day, Darryl sent me a photo of a menu in a place he was visiting, pointed out an item, and asked “Can you make this?” “This” is what it said:

kale, quinoa or super grains, egg*,
sesame carrots, brussels (their spelling) sprouts, crunchy
chickpeas, sunflower seeds, tomato vinaigrette

I immediately said I could, meaning I had now committed to the challenge. But how to make this? Neither of us had even tasted what the restaurant version is like. “Doesn’t matter,” I thought. I’ll come up with something. So I set out to dissect the ingredient list.

Kale — no idea if that should be raw or cooked
Quinoa — no problem, we usually have this
Egg — easy
Sesame carrots — that shouldn’t be too hard
Brussel sprouts — I can roast those easily
Crunchy chickpeas — now this one sound like more of a challenge, how do you get them crunchy?
Sunflower seeds — easily obtained
Tomato vinaigrette — should be easy enough to make

Time for some research. After finding the company’s website and finding their ingredient list for each dish, some adjustments were needed. Here is the ingredient list version of the same dish:

Marinated kale (lemon, sunflower oil, Kosher salt) — I felt like I had struck gold, now I could prepare it properly
Local egg — great to hear they use local eggs, and I do anyway
Lentils — wait, lentils?, it said nothing about those on the menu, but I have those on hand
Carrots — interesting that this is the one item that gives more information on the menu
the rest were the same, you get the picture

Since I had never marinated kale before I looked up some methods. The one that struck a chord with me described how to “massage” the kale. Lucky kale — it got a nice long massage in a lotion of lemon, sunflower oil and Kosher salt. Then it is ready for a 4-hour nap. That is one of the easiest traps for me to fall into — thinking I can make something relatively quickly and missing an important detail like that. Which is why I am adding the 4 hours to my prep time below, which is not included in the majority of online recipes I find. Thanks to fellow NECI alum Alton Brown I learned how to get the chickpeas crunchy, another hour and a half process, but so worth it. I julienned the carrots and sautéed them in sesame oil with some salt, roasted the halved brussel sprouts, cooked some quinoa and some lentils and then assembled the bowls. But, I totally forgot the egg. Honestly, it didn’t need it, and this is how the dish stays truly vegetarian/vegan. 

We ended up having a dinner guest the evening I made these, and she is not a big fan of kale, but the way it was marinated and made it tender and not bitter turned her around on that. While it takes time to marinate the kale and crunch up the chickpeas, both are tasks that can easily be done ahead of time, they’ll keep way beyond 4 hours. I still don’t know what the power bowl in the restaurant tastes like, but we sure like this energy bowl. 

It is also extremely versatile, you can swap other grains for quinoa, you can use different vegetables, if you still don’t like kale with the new technique, you can substitute spinach, and you can even switch up the dressing to your favorite. Different seeds and nuts would also add to the dish, of course.

Yield: 4 servings
Prep time:4 hours
Cook Time: 
Total time: 4 hours (cook during prep time)


1 bunch kale (pre-bagged/chopped also works)
1 lemon (or 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Crunchy Chickpeas
2 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste

1 cup quinoa (I used Bob’s Red Mill tri-color organic quinoa)
2 cups water (more or less depending on package instructions)
salt to taste

1/2 cup lentils (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand here too)
1 1/2 cup water
salt to taste

Sesame Carrots
4 carrots
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste

Roasted Brussel Sprouts
2 cups brussel sprouts
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Sunflower Seeds
4 tablespoons sunflower seeds

Tomato Vinaigrette
3 fresh tomatoes
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste


How is this sustainable ?

I used all organic ingredients for this meal, additionally it is vegetarian. 


Marinate the Kale

  1. Wash kale.
  2. Chop kale into bite sized pieces.
  3. Transfer kale to a large glass bowl.
  4. Juice the lemon.
  5. Whisk lemon juice, olive oil, garlic powder and salt in a small bowl.
  6. Pour the marinade over the kale and massage into the leaves with your hands for 2-3 minutes. 
  7. Set aside for a minimum of 4 hours.

Prepare the Chickpeas

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Drain the chickpeas in a colander and rinse them well.
  3. Dry the chickpeas in a salad spinner.
  4. Spread spun chickpeas on a baking sheet lined with paper towels.
  5. Cover with another layer of paper towels, and roll them to dry further.
  6. Remove paper towels.
  7. Toss chickpeas with olive oil and salt and spread them evenly on baking sheet.
  8. Put the chickpeas into the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  9. Turn off the oven, but leave the chickpeas in it for another hour to dry and crisp.

Cook the Quinoa (instructions below are for Bob’s Red Mill tricolor quinoa, follow package instructions if using a different quinoa)

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
  2. Add quinoa and bring water back to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer till all water is absorbed, about 12 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, fluff, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes.

Cook the Lentils

  1. Sort and rinse lentils.
  2. Place in a pot with 1 1/2 cups water.
  3. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low.
  5. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes.
  6. Add more water if needed.
  7. Set aside and let cool.

Make the Sesame Carrots

  1. Peel carrots and julienne.
  2. Heat sesame oil in large skillet.
  3. Add carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.

Roast the Brussel Sprouts

  1. Preheat oven to 450° F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  3. Wash and trim Brussel sprouts, then cut in half.
  4. Place in a large bowl and add olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
  5. Toss to coat.
  6. Spread the coated Brussel sprouts on the baking sheet in a single layer.
  7. Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring once about halfway through.

Make the Tomato Vinaigrette

  1. Wash and chop tomatoes.
  2. Peel and mince garlic.
  3. Add tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper to a tall narrow jar or bowl.
  4. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. (As an alternative, you can also use a food processor or blender.)

Assembling the Energy Bowls

  1. Place kale in bottom of bowl.
  2. Top with quinoa and lentils.
  3. Add carrots and Brussel sprouts.
  4. Top with crunchy chickpeas and sunflower seeds.
  5. Pour vinaigrette over the bowl generously.
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