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busy lady bowl + easiest ginger miso gravy


I’ve been a bit of a busy bee lately, but I wanted to give you something good and easy this week. The kind of thing you can just jump into with no reservations, using whatever you have. That is the heart of cooking for most of us, right?

This warm rice bowl with chard, avocado, almonds and unbelievably good (+ super easy) ginger miso gravy is synonymous with my solo, city living days. I was in school full time studying nutrition and culinary arts, had 2 jobs, volunteered at a community food centre’s after school program, helped with school functions constantly, worked a line shift 3 times a week for my internship at a high end vegan restaurant AND managed to fit in a shred of a social life. I would come home and wilt onto the couch, gazing towards the kitchen of my teeny bachelor apartment thinking about what I could possibly motivate myself to make.

More often than not, the prospect of this meal lifted my tired body over to the stove: warm brown rice or quinoa with a mix of steamed/raw/leftover roasted vegetables, some kind of sauce/vinaigrette and crunchy topping things. Here’s why: I could always have cooked grains around pretty easily, I made sure my fridge had a good selection of veggies (my school was right by an awesome market–huge help) and when I had a spare 2 minutes I would make a batch of some kind of sauce/dressing in my blender for the week. I learned how to prepare myself/ just have good ingredients around and whoa, my body thanked me for it big time. Twenty minutes of jumping around the kitchen and back on the couch watching Curb Your Enthusiasm with a giant bowl of goodness? Happiest girl.

The vegetables and grains are always interchangeable but a good sauce is so key. This gravy is fresh with ginger and lemongrass, bright with lemon, a fragrant hit of coconut oil, there’s a bit of chili paste to keep it interesting and the miso makes it salty and perfect. I generally always have vegetable stock on hand for cooler weather meals because it makes an appearance in soups, pots of beans, mushroom sautes, curries and wonderful warm sauces like this. They sell decent quality tetra-packed versions so even if you don’t have time to make it, there’s an alternative for you.

I’ve given you a miso-ish gravy recipe before (with mushrooms, white beans and SWEET POTATO BISCUITS, guh I know), but this version is a million times easier. No blending, super straightforward, chop, pour, whisk, strain (optional) and go. It calls for spelt flour too, but if you don’t eat gluten, you could use a teaspoon of arrowroot powder in its place.


warm veggie bowl with ginger miso gravy
serves: 1
notes:  I reach for light miso because that’s what I have, but I imagine darker, stronger varieties would be so good here. Also, the lemongrass is certainly optional. There’s plenty of freshness happening with the fresh lemon juice and ginger.

gravy:
1/2  cup vegetable stock
1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 tbsp agave nectar/maple syrup/honey
1 tsp chili paste (or sriracha)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp minced ginger
2 inch piece of lemongrass, bashed up with the back of your knife
juice from 1/2 a lemon
2 tsp light miso
1 tbsp spelt flour
2 tbsp water

bowl (just what I used for this one–use whatever you have/like):
1 heaped cup cooked rice, warm (I used a mix of brown basmati and black rice = purple rice!)
handful of string beans or broad beans, trimmed
3 chard leaves, stems removed and chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small carrot, peeled into ribbons
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/4 avocado, sliced
chopped almonds
hemp seeds

Make the gravy: Combine all of the gravy ingredients except the miso, spelt flour and water in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Stir the miso, spelt flour and water together until most lumps are dissolved. Add this slurry to the pot and whisk. Let the gravy simmer and whisk it here and there until it has noticeably thickened, about 3 minutes. Strain the gravy with a fine sieve if you like (but definitely remove the lemongrass stalk). Return gravy to the small pot, cover and put keep warm.

Set a medium pot with an inch of water over medium heat and cover. Place the string/broad beans in steamer basket. Once the water is boiling, put the steamer basket in and cover. Cook until beans are crisp tender, about 3 minutes. Add the chopped chard and cover again. Steam greens until wilted slightly, about 1 minute.

Place the cooked rice in a serving bowl. Top with the steamed greens and beans, bell pepper, carrot, green onion, avocado, almonds and hemp seeds. Give the gravy a quick whisk (just in case some lumps form) and pour it over the veggies and rice. Serve warm.

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Lena19/10/2012 - 3:11 am

This bowl looks really good!
I think I should really get into the habit of having cooked grains on hand. They really would make cooking dinner so much quicker.

Kathryn19/10/2012 - 4:50 am

This is exactly the kind of meal that I need to start making especially with that gravy which sounds so incredibly delicious and full of flavour.

Jessica19/10/2012 - 7:21 am

I’m reading the list of gravy ingredients and don’t see the miso!

Laura19/10/2012 - 8:31 am

So silly of me! I put the amount in. Thanks for being astute, Jessica :)

Michelle19/10/2012 - 9:14 am

Girl, you know we’re on the same page here. Rice bows are pretty much how I got through grad school + work + trying to live on the cheap in NYC.

Jeanine19/10/2012 - 9:46 am

your ginger miso gravy sounds amazing! Go bowl food!

Ashlae W.19/10/2012 - 9:47 am

I, admittedly, live off of soup or smoothies in the winter. They’re easy, require very little work, and are ready in a jiffy. But! I get so (sooooo) sick of soup and smoothies – they become the bane of my existence by January. Busy lady bowl, to the rescue!

PS – I admire your dedication. I turn into a whiny woman if I work more than three days a week, while attending University.

Stacy19/10/2012 - 10:49 am

I love recalling single lady days and busy seasons past — there’s something so GOOD about remembering times that were hard or perhaps a bit melancholy. It reminds me to be more present in whatever I’m experiencing right now, as I’ll surely reflect on it in the same way someday. ALSO, this gravy looks delicious, and I’m always a fan of the one bowl meal!

Eileen19/10/2012 - 5:40 pm

That bowl looks amazing! I clearly must get my hands on some avocado and sesame seeds immediately. That gravy sounds excellent too.

Becs @ Lay the table21/10/2012 - 7:10 am

There’s nothing better than a big comforting bowl of rice and veggies! Normally I’d just cover it all in soy sauce but miso is a great alternative :)

Beth {local milk}21/10/2012 - 1:46 pm

I have been so busy lately that I eat exactly the same thing everyday. I have boring personal habits… especially when I’m stressed! This looks like a perfect departure from my rote eating habits. I want to make this tonight! And I love the idea of being able to pretty much have everything on hand, ready to go. Life can get overwhelming… this seems like eye of the storm food! That gravy is calling my name…

Hannah24/10/2012 - 1:12 am

Rice, veggies, sauce … perfect home alone, and also a life-saver when cooking for little people! When my husband is out of town, I will make a pot of grains and set it out with all the leftover veggies from the fridge and a bowl of toasted nuts – my little guys put soyu or ketchup or maplesyrup (geh, I know! but they get to choose!) over top — now I know what I can have on mine. I don’t do much with miso but now I’m inspired. … Thanks Laura :)

la domestique24/10/2012 - 3:10 pm

These types of meals are the best and I’m so saving your miso gravy! Love the combination of colors in this dish too.

sarah24/10/2012 - 3:57 pm

This sounds fantastic. We’ve been making noodle bowls like crazy here – I tried to make a good lemongrass/coconut milk sauce, but it was just okay. I’m going to try yours this week! Lovely photos as always.

Kelsey25/10/2012 - 1:13 pm

This busy-lady bowl is 10x more sophisticated than my go-to comfort food (brown rice, miso, and seaweed). You’re right, the sauce is clutch. And I’m obsessed with this one.

Kathryne28/10/2012 - 11:38 pm

Busy busy busy. I love bowl food. Thanks for giving me another use for the miso in my fridge! I’ve never been a big fan of regular gravy but something tells me I’ll go nuts for this stuff.

Katie (The Muffin Myth)30/10/2012 - 4:21 pm

I love miso gravy! It reminds me of being a teenager in Vancouver and spending all my time eating sesame fries with miso gravy at the Naam. I’ve made my own plenty of times, but this version sounds extra special. I’ll definitely give it a go, and I’m sure it’ll become a staple in my kitchen. Thanks for the recipe!

[...] new ingredients around here, but I just loved this ginger-miso gravy from Laura’s blog The First Mess. It was so easy, fast and incredibly delicious. I didn’t have lemongrass, so the only thing I [...]

[...] Ginger Miso Gravy 1 delicata squash, sliced into approx. 1/4 inch slices 1/2 package tofu, cubed 1 cup crimini mushrooms, if you don’t have these, other varieties work well also splashes of rice vinegar 1 bunch kale (6 leaves or so), you can also use spinach olive oil salt & pepper 1 cup (or so) cooked brown rice pinches of red pepper flakes toasted almonds and sesame seeds a few scallions, chopped [...]

[...] Ginger Miso Gravy 1 delicata squash, sliced into approx. 1/4 inch slices 1/2 package tofu, cubed 1 cup crimini mushrooms, if you don’t have these, other varieties work well also splashes of rice vinegar 1 bunch kale (6 leaves or so), you can also use spinach olive oil salt & pepper 1 cup (or so) cooked brown rice pinches of red pepper flakes toasted almonds and sesame seeds a few scallions, chopped [...]

Garlicia14/05/2013 - 11:45 am

This is what I like to all “clean” food – fresh, tasty, simple – and it’s gorgeous!

After the Harvest09/06/2013 - 4:14 pm

Can you use whole wheat flour rather than spelt flour in the gravy?

Laura Wright11/06/2013 - 1:29 pm

You can! And probably with better results since wheat flour will have more gluten :)
xo

After the Harvest24/06/2013 - 8:18 pm

Ok, this was seriously delicious! Not in the habit of making any type of gravy but this was so healthy, so satisfying, easy to make, and so tasty! It is definitely going into the regular rotation.

[...] and Spaghetti Squash Bowl with a Peanut-Miso Sauce was delicious and I have had my eye on her Busy Lady Veggie Bowl for a [...]

Penny25/08/2013 - 6:49 pm

Wow! We made this last night, the gravy is incredible!! We have some leftover so are going to use it tonight as a dipping sauce for some fresh spring rolls….mmmmmm.
Thank you!

[…] Ginger Miso Gravy recipe, from The First Mess (click to go to it) 1 delicata squash, sliced into approx. 1/4 inch slices 1/2 package tofu, cubed 1 cup crimini mushrooms splashes of rice vinegar 1 bunch kale (or use the chard in this week’s box!) olive oil salt & pepper 1 cup (or so) cooked brown rice pinches of red pepper flakes toasted almonds and sesame seeds a few scallions, chopped […]

[…] {miso-ginger sauce} adapted from the first mess […]

Rick Stain02/12/2013 - 5:08 pm

We made this meal at our place tonight..sensational!
Thank you for a great recipe.

N.B – We didn’t have any miso paste so we ended up using Tom Yum paste instead and it worked a treat!

[…] gravy from The First Mess. Tempeh from The […]

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