Veggie bowls. My favorite go-to quick and easy lunch, dinner or heck, even breakfast depending on what you put in it. Veggie bowls are such a representation of the way I cook. Open the fridge, zero in on one ingredient (say meaty mushrooms or fresh asparagus for example) and then rustle up some add-on items that will give me that taste sensation I’m craving. This weekend I wanted something with an italian flair. So for me the first ingredient I zeroed in on upon opening the fridge, was a fresh bag of kale. Hmmm…what next? Further investigation led me to the following ingredients, all of which worked perfectly in my mouthwatering veggie bowl – leeks, green zucchini, yellow squash, an orange bell pepper, zesty sundried tomatoes packed in oil (Trader Joe’s makes my favorite), portabello mushrooms and finely shaved parmesan romano cheese. Yum. Super satisfying, super healthy and super tasty. I mean, just look at that goodness!

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OK, let’s get to it. Here are the ingredients I used:

– Olive oil cooking spray

– Salt, pepper and some red pepper flakes

– One medium sized leek, cut in half length-wise and then sliced crosswise into pieces

– 1/2 of a medium-sized zucchini, chopped into pieces

– 1/4 of a large, yellow squash, chopped into pieces

– 4 large tablespoons of chopped sun-dried tomatoes (in their oil)

– 1/4 of a large, orange bell pepper, chopped into small pieces

– 5-6 small portabello mushrooms

– 2-3 handfuls of kale, chopped

– 1/3 – 1/4 cup vegetable stock (depending on what you require, more on that later)

– Fresh parmesan shavings

First up, chop your leeks. Leeks tend to have the reputation for being a little sandy or gritty until washed just FYI. Typically I cut in half length-wise, slice into strips and put them in a bowl with cool water. Running my hands through it a couple times is usually all it takes to allow any sand to float to the bottom of the bowl. Then I just take the leeks out with my hands and dry on a paper towel. Next, put your pan on medium-high heat and spray with a decent coating of olive oil spray. Add your leeks and saute with some salt and pepper until the leeks become fragrant and start to wilt a bit. Next, add in your chopped zucchini and squash. Add a tiny bit of red pepper flakes at this point if you like a little heat, which I do. Continue cooking until you get some color on your squash. Once you notice the pan seems a tiny bit dry (as the olive oil spray tends to disappear after awhile), add your chopped up sun-dried tomatoes in their oil. This is important as it adds that richness of flavor and keeps things from sticking to the pan. Up next, our bell pepper. Add that in with the mushrooms, a bit more salt and pepper and cook until all the mushrooms have color and are cooked through.

I then add my vegetable stock at this point. I’ve found that vegetable stock tends to give my dishes a richer flavor than chicken stock which is why I pretty much never use chicken stock anymore. Add in the kale, give it a quick stir and cover it with a lid. Kale is my new favorite green. Right now I’m really enjoying the slight bitterness it provides as well as the countless vitamins and minerals. At this point, the liquid from the veggie stock will begin to wilt the kale. Cook until the kale is cooked to your liking (it really only takes a couple minutes) and add any additional salt or pepper you would like to your taste.

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Once done, I like to serve it on a bed of jasmine rice spiked with tumeric which is super easy and delicious. Simply cook your jasmine rice as suggested on the bag and add in a large teaspoon of tumeric halfway through the cooking process which will add a beautiful yellow color to your rice. Tumeric is a great anti-inflammatory which is why I tend to add more than a teaspoon, but it’s up to you! I also added some slivered almonds to my rice for extra protein. Then it’s time for the parmesan! Add some shavings to the top and you are all set. As you can imagine, this dish is pretty versatile. Use whatever you have in your kitchen and let you imagination run wild with flavor combinations. I love spring bowls of peas, leeks, mushrooms, asparagus and spinach with creamy cheddar or mexican veggie bowls with black beans, yellow sweet onions, mushrooms, zucchini, fresh chopped tomatoes and a dallop of plain greek yogurt. In the mood for breakfast? How about some fresh spring onions, zucchini, spinach, roasted potatotes, mushrooms, a fried egg and some havarti cheese? You get the idea! I always have some leftover which is great heated up for a busy next day lunch. Enjoy!

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