Sweet Potato and Grain Bowl

This last November the weekend of my mom’s memorial services in San Gabriel, my BFF Tina and I stayed at the Marriott Courtyard in Old Pasadena on the Saturday night. I was exhausted beyond measure, but really wanted to visit as long as I could last that night. We sat in the Bar to eat something light and have a drink.

Tina ordered a Sweet Potato and Grain Bowl that seemed (and per the foto they had, looked) delicious. When they brought it to her, it was neither what the foto nor menu promised – it was a spinach salad with lots of crumbled feta cheese and 11 grains of quinoa. When she called the server to protest, it was sworn that for certain, that was the Sweet Potato and Grain Bowl.

It really wasn’t. Neither of us had the energy to make a fuss. She ate some of it, we had our drinks, then went upstairs to bed.

Not long after that, since the idea of such a bowl kept haunting me, I created my own because I could and really wanted to. When I did, I agreed with myself 😉 that this is a Sweet Potato and Grain Bowl. An incredibly delicious one.

This recipe is basically what I did … I didn’t document it then or since but I promise it’s a very forgiving dish. Your own version will be perfect.  

As long as you don’t take a page from that Courtyard’s recipe book. 

Sweet Potato and Grain Bowl

Pickled Onions (prep to marinate while making bowl)

½ red onion, sliced as thinly as possible

Red wine vinegar


Pinch of salt

½ tsp sugar

Place slices in glass or stainless bowl (or glass jar). Cover slices with vinegar, add about ¼ cup water. Sprinkle with salt and sugar. Stir once and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Store remaining onions in glass jar, refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Prep bowl components:

Shred about 3 cups fresh lettuces / radicchio / red cabbages, for bed of bowl. Set aside.

2 cups diced cooked chicken / pork / tofu

1 medium sweet potato, peeled, cut in quarters

Cook sweet potato in medium pot of boiling water until soft. Drain, let pieces cool, then dice into tiny squares. Combine in bowl with diced meat and:

2 cups combination of any or all of these: cooked farro, quinoa, Israeli couscous, orzo pasta, lentils, beans, chickpeas

(Note: I used this packaged Trader Joe’s mix; I am not sure if it is still available, especially at this hour. Find a similar mix of such grains and legumes, cook according to package directions and let cool slightly.)

Whisk together, for dressing:

4 Tbsp red wine vinegar

up to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp Dijon mustard

pinch of sugar

Sea salt + freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

OR, better, if you have the time and inclination, make this amazing dressing:

Rick Bayless’ Grilled Lime Vinaigrette

Assemble bowls:

In 2 serving bowls, divide shredded lettuces evenly; toss with a little dressing.

Toss mixture of diced meat, sweet potato, and grains, generously with dressing. Spoon gently on top of shredded lettuce.

Top each serving with desired amount of pickled onions.

Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper, to serve.

Yields 2 servings.

Diana Scalia

Diana Scalia

Your Chef and Tour Maestra

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