Big bold epic flavors and textures make up these delicious vegan Buddha bowls. Made with spicy crusted black pepper tofu, toasted buckwheat, creamy avocado halves, and tangy mango salsa served on a bed of leafy greens and doused with THE MOST incredible dragon dressing ever - irresistible!
Keep reading for guidelines on how to build a Buddha bowl, ingredient suggestions, tips and meal prep ideas to make weeknight meals a breeze . . .
Buddha bowls are the perfect meal for my family, and I make them often. They are easy to make, super versatile and nourishing, served in a bowl, and include a sauce!!! Some of our favorite sauces include spicy green tahini sauce, sweet and spicy tahini sauce, and dragon sauce to name a few.
What is a Buddha Bowl?
Buddha bowl, rice bowl, hippie bowl, power bowl or whatever you call them are an easy, inexpensive, healthy, typically vegetarian or vegan meal. The old adage 'a bean a green and a grain' holds true when building your Buddha bowls.
Start with a warm (or cold) grain like rice, then add beans or other plant protein, lots of fresh or roasted veggies, and your favorite toppings. It's an excellent way to use up bits of leftovers and perfect for meal prep.
Let's build a vegan Buddha Bowl . . .
Bowl Ingredient Highlights
Tofu - easy to prepare, nutritious and delicious, tofu is an amazing vegan meat alternative. It's super adaptable, the texture is transformative; and it takes on flavor like a boss. (If you're interested in how to cook tofu that tastes good check out this guide.)
Buckwheat Groats - an interesting gluten free, fiber and protein packed pseudo grain. Buckwheat is super versatile and can be served cooked whole like rice, stewed into porridge, toasted, eaten in raw desserts or made into flour.
Grain Ideas: Try buckwheat or choose any grain, lentil, rice, quinoa, bulgur, barley, couscous, etc. that you have on hand. Serve warm or cold.
Mango Salsa - Salsa is a great tangy, fresh component to include in a Buddha bowl. This sweet, juicy mango salsa is incredible but try mango corn salsa or pico de gallo or buy one from the market that will add some acidity, tanginess, and juiciness to your bowl.
Dragon Dressing - This dairy-free dragon dressing is irresistible. Lots of umami flavours, plus tangy, salty, garlicky notes and a slight sweetness. Beyond super addictive, I drizzle (free pour) it liberally on this bowl, and everything else!
Find more Buddha bowl dressing ideas - Vegan Sauces
Buddha Bowl Ingredient Variations
The most epic vegan bowls include a variety of flavors and textures (something with 'toothsomeness' like the tofu).
Each vegetable, grain, herb, bean, nut/seed brings its own nutrient and flavor profile so have some fun and add a big variety. Here's some ideas to get you started:
- roasted veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, leeks, sweet potatoes
- beans such as chickpeas (baked crispy or raw), black beans, pinto beans
- cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
- cucumber slices - use a crinkle cutter for fun
- purple cabbage or creamy slaw
- avocado or guacamole
- sprouts or microgreens
- leafy greens like spinach or kale, romaine or spring mix
- nuts/seeds (toasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios, walnuts)
- fresh herbs like mint, cilantro, parsley or Thai basil
- pickled onions or hot peppers
A Buddha bowl is typically made of a grain, veggies (raw and roasted), plant protein, beans, toppings, and Buddha bowl dressing (very important!). They are very convenient and versatile (use up ingredients you have on hand).
Buddha bowls can range from healthy to indulgent depending what ingredients are chosen. A typical 'hippie or grain' bowl would include a bean, a green, a grain, some veggies, seeds and a simple dressing and would be very nourishing and healthy.
Yes, they are great for meal prep. Prepare the ingredients in advance and store in individual containers in the fridge to be used all week in different combinations with a variety of Buddha bowl sauces.
More Vegan Dinner Recipes
If your schedule allows, take a couple hours on the weekend for meal prep. Bulk cook rice, quinoa or lentils, mix up a big salad, quick pickle some red onions or other veggies, and cook a batch of chickpeas or tofu to make dinners a breeze all week. Here are some more yummy, vegan meals and sauces we love:
- Succulent Vegan Shawarma - incredible, packed with protein and tons of flavor!
- Sweet and Spicy Tahini Sauce - the best tahini sauce recipe on everything!
- Vegan Sushi Bowl - spectacular sushi bowl ideas plus lots of dipping sauces!
- Chopped Chick'n Salad Bowl - chopped salad with juicy plant-based chicken tenders and an irresistible creamy, spicy Tex Mex salad dressing.
- Tofu Taco Meat Bowl - easy, delicious, go-to family favorite.
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Vegan Buddha Bowl
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- ⅓ cup nutritional yeast
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1-2 tbsp oil or sub with tahini if oil free
- 1-2 tsp maple syrup
- 1-2 cloves garlic, to taste
- S&P, to taste
Pepper Crusted Tofu
- 1 block tofu, firm or extra firm
- 1 tbsp cracked black pepper (more to taste)
- sprinkle garlic powder
- sprinkle sea salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil (skip if oil-free)
- 1-2 squeezes sriracha sauce
Buckwheat Stir Fry or use brown or white rice, quinoa, couscous
- 1 cup buckwheat groats, cooked as per package directions
- ¼ - ½ cup cauliflower florets, cut small
- ¼ - ½ cup broccoli florets, cut small
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- S&P to taste
- 2-3 green onions, chopped
Mango Salsa or Make Pico de Gallo
- 1 mango, peeled and cubed
- ¼ - ½ red onion, fine chop
- 1 handful cilantro, fine chop
- 1 lime, juice
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes, to taste
- ¼ tsp cayenne (optional)
- 1-2 avocado, cut into chunks
- 10-12 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- purple cabbage, shredded
- 1 ⅓ cups beans (brown, pinto, black, chickpeas)
- seeds/nuts, eg. pumpkin, sesame, sunflower
- 3-4 cups mixed leafy greens, chopped
PEPPER CRUSTED TOFU (or any flavor)
- Tofu can be made 3 or 4 days in advance and stored in fridge.
- Wrap a block of extra firm tofu in some paper towelling or a clean kitchen towel. Place a couple heavy books or a cast iron skillet on top to press for about 5-15 minutes.
- *While the tofu is pressing make the dragon dressing.
- Cut the tofu block into ~1" cubes and place back on paper towel.
- Dust tofu cubes with liberal amounts of cracked black pepper and finely ground pepper - pressing pepper into all sides. Add a sprinkle of garlic powder (or any spice) over the cubes.
- Heat oil in a cast iron pan (or oven safe skillet) on high heat until shimmering, sprinkle with sea salt.
- Sear the tofu on each side until golden and crispy. The tofu will naturally release from the pan as it crisps up.
- Oil-free Tip: Place the tofu in the hot non-stick pan (medium-high) and don't touch it until the tofu naturally releases. Then flip to sear on all the sides.
DRAGON DRESSING (make while tofu is pressing)
- Whisk all sauce ingredients until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
- I like my dressing garlicky, sour (apple cider vinegar) and not very sweet so I recommend starting with the lower quantities, blending, and adjusting to your own taste preference.
- Will keep in fridge in airtight container for up to 3 or 4 days.
BUCKWHEAT STIR FRY
- Cook 1 cup of buckwheat groats according to package directions - do not overcook! Can also serve on brown or basmati rice, quinoa, couscous, etc.
- Meanwhile, heat oil a large pan over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower and broccoli florets and stir fry for 3 or 4 minutes until they are tender crisp.
- Add the minced garlic, and cooked buckwheat and stir while they toast up. Taste and season with S&P.
- Stir in sliced green onions. Remove from heat immediately and set aside.
MANGO SALSA RECIPE
- Peel and cut the mango into chunks, dice the red onion, and chop the cilantro. Add all ingredients including spices to a bowl and toss to incorporate.
KITCHEN TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS
- Press the tofu.
- Start cooking the buckwheat.
- Make the dressing, put in fridge.
- Make the mango salsa, put in fridge.
- Cut and prepare all veggies and toppings.
- Cut and cook the tofu.
- Stirfry the buckwheat.
- Add a handful or two of your favourite leafy greens (chopped) to a serving bowl. Pile everything on top in piles including any beans, sprouts, and tomatoes, drizzle liberally with the dragon sauce. ENJOY!
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