Spicy buffalo chickpeas and rice bowls with cool-it-down ginger-tahini dressing are super easy to make and loaded with complimenting textures and flavors.
When I started exploring plant-based eating, I was delighted to discover the art of the meal in a bowl. It’s a simple and satisfying combination of foods piled high in a bowl. This kind of meal, comprised of nourishing, whole-food ingredients, such as beans, rice, vegetables, flavorful dressings, fresh herbs, or your favorite condiments, is super easy to put together.
And the fun of the bowl is that with a tweak of a few ingredients or a switch up of dressing or some spices, you can eat a different meal every day and never get bored. It’s a great way to present leftovers or bits of this and that in new and interesting ways.
It must be said. The combination of spicy chickpeas, refreshing lemony rice, ginger-tahini dressing, spinach, and a few crunchy veggies makes a tasty bowl.
All in a bowl. All in your bowl…
Bowl building basics
The perfect plant-based meal in a bowl. It's a straightforward combination of food groups. They're designed to maximize flavor and ensure that you’ll have all the energy and satisfaction you need to get on with all you need to accomplish in a day. Whether it’s buffalo chickpeas and rice, baked tofu, Southwest beans, and quinoa, or Mexican bulgur bowls, they all follow my balanced bowl building approach.
Catch at least one ingredient (or more) from each category, and you've covered your bases. Make them yummy, and the bowl will become your best friend.
So let’s build us some buffalo chickpeas and rice bowls people.
Brown basmati rice – this is the grain or pasta part. Brown basmati is aromatic and a bit nutty on its own. Dress it up with a bit of red pepper, scallions, and cilantro. Oh my!
Dice the red pepper kind of small and thinly slice the scallions. That way, all you do once the rice is cooked it lift up the lid, toss in the veggies and cilantro, give a squeeze or more of lemon, and put the pot lid back on. Even though you’ll have the heat cut at this point, the rice will settle, and the veggies will steam slightly, so they are soft but still crunchy. Bigger slices of red pepper won’t have the same texture, so go for a small dice with this one.
You can substitute with any kind of rice (or other grain) you like. Be sure to consider the cooking times. Most likely, the rice will take the longest to cook.
If you are using leftover rice, reheat it in a basked steamer and add the pepper and scallions in right when it starts to steam. Once you take it out of the basket and put it in a bowl, mix in the lemon juice (lemon zest if you’re adding that), and the chopped cilantro.
Buffalo chickpeas – like the sign says ‘spicy’! Chickpeas (garbanzo beans are the same things) are one of my favorites in the beans and legumes category. I find them so tempting that I resist having them hanging around until right before I cook them. Otherwise, they start disappearing (I can’t imagine what happens there), and there I am, searching for another can of chickpeas.
If you dry fry the chickpeas for a few minutes before you add the sauce, they will firm up and brown a bit. It adds a bit of crunch. And if you want them to hold their shape and give you sauce a place to land, do not peel them. Besides, who’s got time to peel chickpeas, and who doesn't want extra fiber (the skin)?
The ridiculously easy combination of Sriracha hot sauce, rice vinegar, and soy sauce makes the perfect spicy sauce. Toss the ingredients into a small bowl or jar and plan for 5-8 minutes for the chickpeas. This is the last cooking to do if you want to serve them hot. You will want to stir the chickpeas frequently, so they don’t stick to the bottom, so reserve some attention for it.
In terms of greens, you won’t go wrong with the power punch of spinach. My favorite is baby spinach, but because I was bowl desperate and didn’t have that on hand, I just tore regular spinach leaves. It just makes them a bit easier to maneuver when you’re trying to scoop up chickpeas and rice all in one big bite. And another bite. And another.
A few sweet carrots are an excellent veggie choice for this one. Slice them thin or cut them into thin matchsticks. You can also grate the carrots, and if you chop the spinach a bit finer, you can make a bit of slaw. And there are a few other veggies that would be great in this bowl. Cucumber, thinly sliced radishes, a bit of red onion, even cauliflower florets. No limit to veggie creativity.
The chopped cilantro and lemon zest in the rice were the only ingredients from the herbs and toppings I used. A sprinkle of fresh cilantro over the top of the bowl would dress it up. If you are not a cilantro person, try substituting chopped Italian, flat-leaf parsley.
A bowl is not a bowl without a great dressing or some condiments to top it off. If you like spicy-hot (even super-hot) buffalo chickpeas, then this ginger-tahini dressing is the perfect cooling agent.
The secret is a tablespoon of fresh ginger grated or finely minced. Don’t skimp on the ginger. That’s the sparkle to balance the sweetness of the maple syrup and zest of the rice vinegar and lime juice. I didn’t bother with a blender for this one, it whisks up smooth and creamy in a bowl.
Uncomplicated, chickpeas and rice, dressed up in minutes, a quick dressing, along with spinach and carrots – we’ve got out bases covered. Once you add all that in your bowl, or if you only have tiny bowls, your plate, leave all the bases behind and dive in. Savor the flavors, the textures, and all that good stuff if even for a few moments. Enjoy eating, enjoy the journey, and never skimp on flavor. PeacePrint
spicy buffalo chickpeas and rice bowls
Spicy Buffalo chickpeas and rice bowls with cool-it-down ginger-tahini dressing are super easy to make and loaded with complimenting textures and flavors.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4 bowls 1x
- Category: Salads & Bowls
- Cuisine: Plant-based
- Diet: Vegan
- 1 ½ cup uncooked rice (try brown basmati)
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced small
- ¼ cup sliced scallions (green onions), thinly sliced
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro (coriander)
- 1 lemon juiced (or ¼ cup lemon juice)
- 1 tsp. grated lemon zest (optional)
- 3 Tbsp. tahini
- ¼ cup warm water (more if you want a thinner dressing)
- 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 1 tsp. maple syrup (or agave syrup)
- 1 Tbsp. finely diced fresh ginger
- 2 - 15 oz (400 gm.) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
- ¼ - ⅓ cup Sriracha or another hot sauce (it depends on how hot you like it)
- 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- ½ tsp. soy sauce or Tamari
- 6 - 8 cups fresh spinach roughly chopped
- 2 carrots julienned (cut into matchsticks), sliced thin, or grated
Timing tip: Your total cooking time depends on your rice, so you may want to start that first. The chickpeas will take about 5-10 minutes tops and will need your attention, so prep everything before you start them.
- Cook the rice according to package directions. When the rice is done, cut the heat.
- Add the pepper, scallions, coriander, and lemon juice right in the pan. Mix well and cover the pot to steam the veggies steam a bit.
- In a small bowl, mix the tahini and water until smooth.
- Mix in the lime juice, rice vinegar, and maple syrup.
- Fold in the fresh ginger.
- Rinse and drain the chickpeas.
- In a small bowl or jar, mix the Sriracha, rice vinegar, and soy sauce.
- Grab a skillet or frying pan and roast the chickpeas until they get are firmer and a bit brown (about 5 minutes). You’ll need to toss them continuously, so don’t leave the pan unattended.
- When the chickpeas are browned, add the sauce, mix well and allow the sauce and chickpeas to simmer for 2-3 minutes.
Assemble the perfect bowl
- Line the bottom of each bowl (or plate) with chopped spinach. Add the chickpeas and lemon rice to each bowl. Add the carrots and any additional fresh veggies you desire.
- Serve with the ginger-tahini dressing.
- Nutritional information is based on brown basmati rice. Depending on what grain you decide to use, nutritional information may vary.
- Substitute quinoa, bulgur, or another grain for the rice. This is also a great way to use leftover rice.
- If you don’t like things too spicy, use a milder hot sauce or skip it entirely and substitute 2 tablespoons of tomato paste.
Keywords: buffalo chickpeas and rice bowls