Pascale's Kitchen: A whole meal in a bowl

These dishes require organization and preparation in advance, and with the interesting flavor combinations you can create a surprising lunch or breakfast in a bowl.

A whole meal in a bowl (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
A whole meal in a bowl
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
I like to deal with complex, weird and special recipes, and I especially like to “play” with special or simple ingredients. Sometimes I try to make interesting dishes that can be an unconventional addition to a meal or that can easily be combined with a variety of dishes served in a rich buffet when hosting casual events.
I don’t mean simple and quick-to-prepare dishes, but, rather, dishes in which a lot of thought has been invested. They require preparation in advance, and they create fascinating and unconventional combinations between all the raw ingredients, textures, preparation techniques and flavors. These combinations give a twist to familiar and boring dishes.
But on really hot days, like many others, I have no motivation to go into the kitchen. Everything is arduous, and it’s not so pleasant to turn on the stove when the air conditioner is running nearby. So over the years I started to adopt a method of preparing dishes that can easily be turned into a whole dairy, meat, parve, vegan or vegetarian meal. And even for lunch or dinner, it becomes a large salad that is a complete meal, which you can take anywhere.
These dishes require organization and preparation in advance, and with the interesting flavor combinations you can create a surprising lunch or breakfast in a bowl.
This concept works perfectly when you make sure to use fresh ingredients. These bowls will be based on various types of grains, pastas and legumes. They can be boiled, fried, stir-fried or steamed, and to them I add a delicate amount of seasoning that will emphasize the flavors and make them jump out of the bowl. I combine different types of vegetables with legumes, grains, cheeses, eggs, fish or chicken breast so that the dishes are rich in textures, colors and flavors. 
For the bowls to be convenient and accessible, I prepare the raw ingredients ־ such as barley, brown and black lentils, chickpeas, quinoa ־ in advance and put them in the refrigerator. All of these are always precooked and drained, and lightly seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil to prevent sticking. They’re kept in the refrigerator in closed containers, which makes it easy for the dishes to be assembled easily.
The rest of the toppings that I need, such as the vegetables, fresh herbs, fish, chicken, or tofu, I prepare when I’m about to assemble the dish. The sauces I also prepare in advance, putting them in jars or containers in the fridge. It is true that this takes time, but it only takes about an hour, and then you don’t have to prepare anything else for at least two or three days, depending on the amount you’ve prepared.
After the basic ingredients have been prepared in advance, all that’s left is to put together the perfect meal to your liking. Every day I open the fridge and take out the flavors and the interesting combination I want for my meal, putting together layers upon layers of legumes, grains, proteins, carbohydrates and vegetables. Obviously, all this goodness can vary, depending on your taste, mood and whoever you’re having over for dinner.
I’ve chosen three meals in a bowl, and you are welcome to adopt them in your private kitchen. The first is with tuna, the second with chicken breast slices and antipasti vegetables, and the third with Safed cheese.
In case I did not exactly match your taste, assemble your own meal according to your favorite ingredients. Just pay attention to the type of dressings you use, and choose ones that will complement the range of flavors you have chosen to put together for your meal.
TUNA SALAD WITH LEGUMES AND VEGETABLES
Makes 4-5 servings.
1 can corn, drained 
2 cups chickpeas, cooked (or from a can, washed and drained well)
2 cups pearl barley, cooked and drained
3 tomatoes
3 carrots
3 cucumbers
1 large red onion, cut into thin strips
2 cups kale, washed well
2 cans tuna chunks in oil, drained
Dressing:
½ cup olive oil
1/3 cup citrus vinegar
¾ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. demerara sugar
1 large garlic clove, crushed
Garnish:
Chives
Put the corn, chickpeas and pearl barley in separate containers, add a teaspoon or two of olive oil to each container and a small amount of salt. Mix and store in the refrigerator.
Cut the tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers according to your choice ־ chunks, slices or cubes ־ and put them in separate containers.
Arrange layers of vegetables on a plate or in a bowl by color and shape, and place the chunks of tuna in the center.
In a separate small jar, mix all the dressing ingredients. Before serving, pour a little of the dressing over the whole salad, stir and enjoy. This is the way all the salads are prepared.
Level of difficulty: Easy
Preparation time: five minutes
Status: Parve
ANTIPASTI SALAD WITH CHICKEN BREAST
Makes 4-5 servings.
3 medium zucchinis, cut into thin slices
1 large and narrow eggplant, cut into slices
2 whole chicken breasts
Salt, pepper and a little olive oil
3 carrots, peeled
5 radishes
2 large red beets, cooked and peeled
1 medium purple onion, cut into strips
2 cups kale, washed and dried 
2 cups cooked quinoa
Garnish:
A handful of mint leaves
Mustard vinaigrette:
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. whole mustard seeds
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1½ cups olive oil
½ tsp. honey
Salt, pepper, to taste
Heat a grill pan well, lightly spray with olive oil and roast the zucchini and eggplant slices on both sides until softened and browned. Place in a container. Season, and sprinkle oil on, the chicken breast pieces and roast them on the pan for a few minutes on each side. Remove them and cut them into strips half a centimeter thick and keep them in a tightly sealed container.
Cut the carrots and radishes into small cubes, cut the cooked beets into strips. You can use a crinkle cutter.
Arrange the chopped and cooked vegetables in a wide bowl or a deep plate according to shades and shapes and add the cooked quinoa and chicken strips.
In a separate jar, mix all the vinaigrette ingredients. Before serving, pour the sauce over the quinoa, vegetables and chicken breast pieces. Garnish with mint leaves and serve. This is the way all the salads are prepared.
Level of difficulty: Easy
Preparation time: five minutes
Status: Meat
GRAIN AND CHEESE VEGETABLE SALAD
Makes 4-5 servings.
4 cucumbers
3 carrots, peeled
5 radishes
2 cups chickpeas, cooked and drained, or from a can, washed and drained
½ pack root vegetable mix, cut into thin strips, or any other mix you choose
250 gr. salted cheese or 5% Safed, cut into small cubes
1 cup cooked brown lentils
1 cup cooked black lentils
2 handfuls arugula
1 cup white cabbage, cut into thin strips
1 cup sunflower sprouts
½ cup chopped walnuts
Dressing:
½ cup lemon juice
¾ cup olive oil
Salt, ground black pepper, to taste
Cut the cucumbers, carrots and radishes into small cubes. Place in individual serving bowls a layer of cucumbers, then a layer of chickpeas, then a layer of at least 1 cm. of the vegetable mix, and on top arrange a layer of cheese cubes.
On top of the cheese, arrange a layer of the brown and black lentils, and on top of that a layer of arugula. Arrange on top of that a layer of carrot cubes and a layer of cabbage strips. Finish it off with small heaps of diced radishes, sunflower sprouts and walnuts.
In a small jar, mix the dressing ingredients. Pour a little of it over all the vegetables before serving. This is the way all the salads are prepared.

Level of difficulty: Easy
Preparation time: Five minutes
Status: Dairy
Translated by Benjamin Glatt.