Mediterranean Quinoa Bowl w/ Roasted Vegetables, Crispy Chickpeas, Feta and Romesco Sauce

Let me just say I am thoroughly in love with bowl life.  A long time ago, a friend of mine once told me that her husband was such a sandwich lover, that he would turn most of his meals into a sandwich. Well, that’s kind of how I feel about food bowls.  I get it!  They’re a quick way for me to get all that’s good and good for me in one compact space.  Depending on your taste, a great bowl starts with a base (rice, grain, noodles), vegetables (this is the time to clean out your fridge), protein (chicken, tofu, meat, fish, beans) and some awesome toppings (nuts, seeds, herbs, sauces…).

This Mediterranean Bowl with Roasted Vegetables started with a craving for Romesco sauce.  Romesco is a Spanish sauce consisting of tomatoes, roasted red peppers, almonds and bread (I used a breadless recipe but traditionally bread is an ingredient).  Its flavor is rich; tangy with a smoky taste that pairs well with fish, chicken and as a dip for bread and vegetables.  You can purchase it already prepared, but if you have the time, I challenge you to go for it and make it yourself. You won’t be disappointed.  Let me preface by saying that this particular recipe is not quick.  So, if you get home from work by 6:00pm and start cooking straight away, you’re looking at a 7:00pm-ish dinnertime.

With the heartiness of the Romesco sauce, I wanted vegetables that could stand up to the flavor.  Enter eggplant, cauliflower, carrots and my protein….chickpeas.   I tossed the chickpeas in a bowl with olive oil, smoked paprika, and ground cumin and roasted in the oven at 400'.  I then roasted my vegetables until fork tender on 400'.  Once the vegetables and beans were done, I began layering: Quinoa, vegetables, chickpeas, Romesco sauce, feta, and cilantro (you can use parsley also). Done and done.  Enjoy!

MEDITERRANEAN QUINOA BOWL W/ ROASTED VEGETABLES, CRISPY CHICKPEAS, FETA AND ROMESCO SAUCE//serves 4

roasted vegetables
½ head of cauliflower, broken into florets
1 lb (6 or 7) carrots, peeled
1 medium sized eggplant, cut into cubes
salt
pepper
olive oil

crispy chickpeas
1 15-oz can chickpeas
2 T olive oil
½ t. salt
1 to 2 tsp spices (cumin, chili powder, paprika)

romesco sauce (adapted from Bon Appetit)//Yields 1 1/2  cups servings
1 large roasted red bell pepper from a jar
1 garlic clove, mashed
½ cup raw almonds, toasted
¼ cup tomato puree
2 T chopped flat leaf parsley
2 T sherry vinegar
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper

Place the vegetables on a sheet pan, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.  Roast on 400' for 40 minutes or until vegetables are cooked through and brown.

Place chickpeas in a bowl and season with cumin and smoked paprika, or your spice of choice.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spread evenly on a sheet pan and bake until crisp at 400' for 30 to 40 minutes.

For the romesco sauce, place first 8 ingredients in a food processor and pulse.  With the motor running, slowly add oil and process until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place the sauce in a container and refrigerate for up to a week.

For serving
Cooked quinoa
Feta cheese
Cilantro or parsley