This Buddha Bowl, loaded with quinoa, lots of tender smoky grilled vegetables, bright crunchy fresh veggies, toasted walnuts, rich blue or feta cheese, and one perfect, juicy grilled pear half, is topped off with a sweet, tangy pear vinaigrette. It's a summertime winner; easy to put together and a 'WOW' meal-in-a-bowl to satisfy all taste buds. (Skip to recipe.)
Thanks to California Pears for sponsoring this post so I could share this lovely pear recipe with you and tell you about one of my favourite summer fruits.
If the phrase, 'You are what you eat' has any meaning, then in the summer I would be a big juicy pear, golden on the outside and bursting with sweet sunshiny juices on the inside. I'd have a wisp of rosy-hued blush tinting my faintly speckled skin, and I'd sit firmly on my wide squat bottom, holding up my rakish looking stem with aplomb. Me and my pear friends would have a great time hanging around the branches of the old pear tree down in the orchard or chatting up some pearfectly juicy gossip in the fruit bowl.
For fun I'd have some foodie adventures volunteering myself for daring recipe missions. I'd have a blast jumping into the frying pan for a hot sizzle, then hopping right into the middle of this glorious Buddha Bowl. I'd feel like I was in a famous still life painting by some old Dutch master, and my life as a juicy fruit would be complete.
If I really was a pear, I'd want to be a juicy California Bartlett Pear. These beauties are not only the pinnacle of the pear crop, they're loaded with antioxidants and fibre, plus they're a source of Vitamin C, potassium and folic acid. You just need to bite into an exquisitely ripe pear, the honeyed juices bathing your tongue and running down your arm, to know that this is a fruit that epitomizes summer sunshine. California Bartletts are only available for a few weeks in July and August (before the Canadian pears are ready, which happens in late August and September). California pears help extend our North American pear season so we can enjoy the fruits earlier and for longer. They are grown with care and dedication on small family farms in Northern California, which are leaders in natural pest control and fertilizer reduction.
I've stopped buying pears shipped from far away countries in South America or Asia; they're always disappointingly hard and seldom ripen properly, no matter how long I coddle them - the fruits are just picked too green and spend too much time in transport. That's why my heart always does a little jump for joy right in the grocery store when I see the first California Pears make their appearance; I know I can finally indulge my pear cravings with those golden fruits. Just a few days at room temperature and they ripen into the most luscious juicy offerings.
I love nothing better than eating a perfectly ripened pear just out of hand (they're the ideal, healthy summer snack), but it's also a real treat to showcase pears in all kinds of recipes:
- Sautéed Pears with Chocolate Sauce
- Ginger Pear Tart
- Confetti Crepes with Chocolate, Hazelnuts, and Fresh Pears
- Pear and Bacon Appetizer Bundles
- Kale Salad with Cranberries, Pears, & Sesame Seeds
- layered in Grilled Brie Cheese Sandwiches
- Poppyseed, Pomegranate & Pear Salad
- for many more wonderful pear recipes, check out these California Pears Recipes
Pears' gentle sweetness and full flavour lend themselves to all kinds of flavour pearings (sorry, couldn't resist), whether they're sweet dessert ingredients (pears and chocolate - to die for) or salty and umami (pears and bacon - mmmm). In this Buddha Bowl recipe, pears go amazingly well with rich toasted walnuts and funky blue cheese (although if you're not a blue cheese lover, salty feta cheese is another great pear partner). I've also added some bitter grilled radicchio as a foil for the sweet pear (and again, if you're not a radicchio lover, you can substitute wedges of red onion), mild grilled zucchini, and crunchy raw carrots and celery for a textural counterpoint. With the protein from the quinoa, nuts, and cheese, and the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals from the pear and all the veggies, you have a nutritional powerhouse in this salad-as-a-meal.
You can even skip the grilling steps and serve the fruits and veggies 'au naturel' (see the *notes above the recipe below).
Everything is beautifully piled onto a bed of earthy quinoa for a summer meal-in-a-bowl that will pleasure your eyes and your tongue. The tangy, delicate dressing uses a whole grilled pear as its base and is quick to whiz together in the blender. A drizzle of this uniquely flavoured vinaigrette taste bomb is the final crowning touch.
Whether you know them as Buddha Bowls, Glory Bowls, Rice Bowls, Grain Bowls, Nourish Bowls, or Bounty Bowls (my own favourite), this fun way to eat a salad is a total feast for the eyes, as well as the palate. The ingredients are simply and artfully arranged in charming little piles of colour and texture. A few minutes of assembling and dinner is done; it can be as casual as bowls in your lap in front of the television or as special as a dish for a summer get-together with friends. A Quinoa and Pear Buddha Bowl is simple and elegant and totally satisfying.
The beauty of this recipe is that you can grill the ingredients while having drinks and chatting with guests, then serve the salads while they're warmly wafting with smoky aromas, or you can prepare all the ingredients ahead of time and serve the salads at room temperature for an easy breezy entertaining option. You can even pack up the prepared ingredients and take them along to assemble at an outdoor picnic or camp out - so much more appealing than sandwiches and bags of chips.
How Easy is this Buddha Bowl to Make?
Just peel, halve, and core three juicy ripe Bartlett pears:
Slice up some zucchini and radicchio (or red onion), shred some carrot, and dice a couple stalks of celery.
Sauté the pears and grill the veggies. Crumble the cheese and toast the walnuts.
Now put it all together:
Now you just whiz all the dressing ingredients in the blender and a few seconds later you can drizzle that beautiful bowl with a fresh, tangy pear vinaigrette.
I'm in pear heaven.
For more information and recipes, visit www.calpear.com or try using delicious California pears in the recipe links above.
* * * * *
Kitchen Frau Notes: Whenever I toast nuts, I do up extra so I have them to use for other purposes (like this easy breakfast) or so they're ready for the next time I make this delicious Pear Buddha Bowl. Once toasted, the walnuts keep for weeks in a jar in the pantry.
Buddha Bowls are very adaptable. Feel free to change up the veggies, nuts, and cheese with your favourites or whatever you have on hand.
Options: For a time-saving version, you can cook the quinoa and grill the pear and veggies up to several days ahead of time, and serve the salad at room temperature.
*You can even omit the grilling steps and serve the pear and veggies all raw: just cook the quinoa and toast the walnuts ahead of time, make sure to use really ripe, sweet juicy pears. Use the zucchini and radicchio or onion without grilling: cut the raw zucchini into very thin slices, and shred the radicchio finely or use only a half of a red onion, shaved on a mandolin or very finely sliced. Use raw, peeled and cored pear halves in the vinaigrette.
for the quinoa:
- 1 cup (175gms) quinoa
- scant 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
for the Buddha Bowl salad fixings:
- 1 to 2 tablespoons oil
- 3 ripe but firm Bartlett Pears (one is for the pear vinaigrette)
- 1 small head of radicchio or 1 medium red onion
- 2 medium zucchini (6 to 8 inches/16-20cm long)
- 1 large or 2 small carrots
- 2 stalks of celery
- generous ½ cup walnuts, toasted
- generous ½ cup crumbled blue cheese (or substitute feta cheese) - check to make sure it's gluten free if using blue cheese
for the pear vinaigrette:
- two grilled pear halves (from above)
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 4 tablespoons (60mls) olive oil
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
Cook the quinoa: (This can be done a day or more ahead.) If it's not pre-rinsed, you will need to rinse the quinoa before cooking. Combine the quinoa and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to steam for 5 minutes. Add the butter, salt, and pepper and fluff with a fork. (See how to rinse and cook quinoa here.)
Prepare the Buddha Bowl ingredients: Heat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until they are fragrant and slightly more golden in colour. Allow to cool.
Peel, halve, and core the pears (a melon baller makes easy work of coring the pears). Sauté them in a bit of oil in a skillet, or brush them with oil and grill them on a barbecue, for about 5 minutes per side until they are golden and soft. Cover the skillet with a lid or close the lid of the barbecue while you are cooking the first side, so the pears will cook through faster. Remove the sautéed pears to a plate.
Cut the zucchini into diagonal slices and cut the radicchio or red onion into finger-thick wedges, making sure to leave the core or root end attached so the wedges stay together. Brush both sides of the vegetable slices or wedges with olive oil, and sauté or grill them in a grill pan, skillet, or in a grill basket on a barbecue, turning them to brown both sides. Lift and turn the radicchio or onion wedges carefully, using a spatula and trying to keep them as intact as possible. They will need 2 to 3 minutes per side so they are tender but still slightly crisp.
Peel and shred the carrot, dice the celery, and crumble the blue cheese or feta cheese.
Make the Pear Vinaigrette dressing: In a blender canister, combine two of the grilled pear halves and the rest of the dressing ingredients. Blend until smooth.
To Assemble the Buddha Bowls: Set out four large flat bowls (you can layer the ingredients onto plates if you don't have big enough bowls). Divide the prepared quinoa among them - about 1 cup of quinoa in each.
Cut the pear into lengthwise slices and, keeping them together, place the sliced pear onto the center of the quinoa, fanning out the pear slices slightly. Divide the rest of the ingredients among the four bowls and place them into neat little piles on top of the quinoa, in a ring surrounding the pear halves. Pass the Pear Vinaigrette separately so diners can add it to their salads individually to taste.
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