What on-the-go meal can you possibly put together in the morning crunch that will nourish and satisfy your family—while keeping you sane and on schedule? Rice bowls are a super-simple, low-cost (and delicious!) solution to the pre-dawn lunch-packing routine.
Your family is threatening to mutiny if you microwave one more dinner of leftovers. What quick, tasty evening meal can you put together that will nourish and satisfy them—but won't overwhelm you with kitchen prep the minute you get home from work?
Meet the rice bowl. Rice bowls are a super-simple, low-cost solution to the rushed and often boring weekday dinnertime routine. Almost anything can be made delicious when it's served over a scoop of hot rice—even leftovers! Below, tips for cooking perfect rice without a rice cooker, and five winning recipes for one-bowl meals your family will clamor for again and again.
First Things First: How to Cook the Perfect Rice
Measure 2 cups of white, basmati, jasmine, or sushi rice into a colander. Rinse under cold water till the water runs clear. Place in a heavy pot and add 2 and 1/2 cups cold water. Cover with a lid and cook on high heat till the pot begins to bubble over. Remove the lid to release steam, turn heat to very low; then replace the lid and set a timer for 9 minutes. Remove the pot from heat and allow to continue steaming, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice with a wooden spoon and scoop into bowls.
Wild rice: This water-grown grass is not actually rice, but it makes for a nutty and highly nutritious alternative to the options listed above. To cook, place 1 cup of wild rice in a heavy pot along with 3 cups cold water and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, cover, then simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, till cooked through. Remove the pot from heat and allow to continue steaming, covered, for 5 minutes; drain and serve.
Rice Bowl 1: Basil Beef
- Jasmine or other white rice, cooked as instructed above
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 and 1/2 tsp sugar
- 4 tsp olive or vegetable oil
- 4 sandwich steaks—about 1 and 1/4 lbs in all
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- 2 red bell peppers, washed, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 cup well-packed basil leaves, chopped
Directions: While cooked rice is steaming off-heat, mix soy and sugar in medium bowl; set aside. Place large skillet over medium heat, add 2 tsp oil; when hot, add steaks. Cook, flipping once, till just done—about 2 minutes per side. Remove to cutting board; slice thin.
Wipe out skillet and return to medium heat; add 2 tsp oil. When hot, add garlic and peppers; toss for 1 minute, then add soy mixture and cook 1 to 2 minutes, till peppers are just cooked but still have some crunch. Add sliced steak and toss quickly to mix. Remove from heat and toss in basil.
Spoon rice into 4 bowls and top with beef and pepper mixture. Serve immediately.
Rice Bowl 2: Sesame Salmon
- Japanese or other white rice, cooked as instructed above
- 2 salmon fillets, skin on—about 1 and 1/4 lbs in all
- Sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- Juice of 1 lime
- 3 Tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tsp
- 2 cups sugar snap peas, washed and stringed
Directions: While cooked rice is steaming off-heat, place large skillet over medium-high heat. Brush salmon liberally with sesame oil and sprinkle with salt; place in hot skillet, skin-side down. Turn when skin is crispy, 2 to 3 minutes, then lower flame to medium-low. Cook until salmon is firm when pressed and just slightly pink in center, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.
In medium bowl, mix lime juice, 3 Tbsp olive oil and salt to taste. Cut salmon into 4 equal pieces, add to bowl and spoon dressing over.
Wipe out skillet and place over high heat; add 1 tsp each of sesame and olive oil. When hot, add sugar snaps and toss till warmed through but still crispy, about 1 minute.
Scoop rice into 4 bowls, sprinkle with sesame seeds. Add salmon and sautéed sugar snaps, drizzle with dressing. Serve immediately.
Rice Bowl 3: Cauliflower Curry
- Basmati or other white rice, cooked as instructed above
- 2 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil
- 1 medium red onion, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
- 1 and 1/2 Tbsp mild curry powder
- 1 medium cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
- Salt & pepper
- 1 14-oz can coconut milk
- Juice of 1 lime, plus more to taste
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
Directions: While rice is cooking, then steaming, off-heat, place large skillet over medium heat; add oil. When hot, add onion and stir till translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add curry powder and stir till aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add cauliflower and stir well to mix. Add salt and pepper to taste, then coconut milk. Stir well.
Lower heat to medium-low and allow to simmer gently till cauliflower is just tender and sauce slightly thickened, about 7 minutes. Squeeze in lime juice, then taste for seasoning, adding more salt and lime juice as necessary.
Scoop rice into 4 bowls, ladle over curry, then sprinkle with cilantro to serve.
Rice Bowl 4: Fried Egg Rice Bowl
- Japanese or other white rice, cooked as instructed above
- ½ Tbsp butter
- 2 carrots, washed, peeled and julienned
- Salt & sugar
- 2 tsp olive or vegetable oil
- 4 eggs (more if some of your gang is extra-hungry)
- 2 scallions, green part only, sliced thin
- Optional: kimchi or sriracha to serve
Directions: While cooked rice is steaming off-heat, place medium skillet over medium heat and add butter. When melted, add carrots, salt to taste, pinch of sugar, and 1 Tbsp water. Cook, stirring, till carrots are just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from skillet with slotted spoon and set aside.
Wipe out skillet, place over medium heat and add oil. When hot, crack in eggs and sprinkle with salt. Cover, lower heat, and cook until yolks are filmed over but still soft.
Scoop rice into 4 bowls, top with eggs and carrots, and sprinkle with scallions. For spice-lovers, serve with kimchi or sriracha.
Rice Bowl 5: Wild Rice and Leftover Chicken
- Wild rice, cooked as instructed above
- 1 large shallot or small red onion, peeled, quartered and finely sliced
- 1 and 1/2 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil
- 2 cups leftover chicken, shredded
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce, plus more to taste
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 5-oz. bag baby kale
Directions: While cooked wild rice is steaming off-heat, place 1 Tbsp oil in large skillet over medium heat; add onion or shallot and sauté till translucent.
Drain wild rice and add to skillet, then add chicken. Stir to mix.
Add soy sauce and butter to skillet and cook, stirring often, till butter melts and chicken is hot through. Taste for seasoning and add more soy sauce, if desired. Divide among 4 bowls.
Wipe out skillet and place over high heat; add ½ tbsp olive oil. When hot quickly toss in baby kale for several seconds, till just wilted. Add to bowls. Serve immediately.