Colorful and Delicious Black Rice Bowls

We made these delicious black rice bowls at the Run a Luncheonetter Camp in August and served them to the parents at the end of the week. I will absolutley be making this dish again. It is an ideal dish to serve to a large group of people with divergent tastes and dietary restrictions. Whichever topping they choose, it will taste great and look gorgeous. All of the photos, featured in this post are of the unique bowls created and plated by the kids who attended camp!

We decided on these specific vegetables for this dish, because we did camp in August and we had a very luscious farm share from 607 CSA (community supported agriculture) to work with. Since I am SO late posting, I’ve included suggestions for seasonal substitutions. What matters is that you have a variety of shapes, lines, colors and textures to work with…as well as delicious flavors!

There are quite a few elements to prepare for this dish, but each one is quite simple and can be made well in advance. This group of kids made all of the elements for this bowl in about 45 minutes. They were a very energetic and harworking group. In addition to cooking their lunch each day and preparing a huge meal for their parents at the end of the week, they also ran a very lucrative shave ice stand.

Forbidden Black Rice

We used a rice cooker at cooking camp but at home I use the following method. You cook the rice like pasta!


  • 2 cups forbidden black rice
  • water to cover
  • a bit of salt


  1. Cover the rice with plenty of water. Add a bit of salt and bring to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, turn the heat down and cook for 18-12 minute (or until tender but not mushy)
  3. Drain through a sieve.

Pickled Watermelon Radishes (or some other kind of colorful pickle)

I had ridicoulsly overbought watermelon radishes earlier in the summer (a story for another time) and had pickled them all in a panic. I had so many, that I brought them to camp insearch of friends to help me eat them. Luckily, the kids loved them. Pickles are an important addition to the bowl. They add color, crunch and acidity. I’ve shared the watermelon pickle recipe here, but you could also use the pickled carrots from this post, the pickled onions from this post or pickled cabbage!


  • 1 pound of watermelon radishs, peeld and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon pink peppercorns


  1. Put the sliced vegetables into a large clean jar with a lid.
  2. Combne the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and continue to cook and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Pour the pickling liquid over the radishes. Let them cool to room temperature, then seal the jar and store it in the fridge.

Basil (or other herb) Cashew Miso Dressing

Sal was the kid who was in charge of this dressing. He is an intuitive cook, not a recipe follower, so I just gave him all of the ingredients and told him to blend them together and adjust the amounts of lemon juice, miso and sweetener until it tasted good. You can do the same! This is a great thing to do in the summer if you have come into bunches and bunches of basil. It would also work well with cilantro, if you are a cilantro fan.

  • An entire huge bunch of basil, throughly rinsed and dried tough stems discarded
  • 1-2 cups of raw cashews, soaked overnight or for at least for hours, then drained
  • lemon juice (lots)
  • miso (shiro or sweet white is best)
  • sugar or agave nectar
  • water as needed to achieve the desired thickness

Zucchini (or other vegetable) Noodles with Sweet Lime Dressing

We had a little spiralizer tool which the kids enjoyed using to make noodles, but you could shred or julienne you zucchini if you like. I dislike zucchini myself and may be mildly allergic to it (I find it bitter and spicy). But other people like zucchini noodles and we recieved SO many of them in the farmshare. The beauty of the rice bowl format is that you don’t have to put everything in your personal bowl. You can also spiralize butternut squash or carrots and use the same dressing. Dress the vegetables right before serving if you want them to retain a bit of chewy texture. Dress them in advance if you want them to soften a bit.

Sweet Lime Dressing

  • lime juice
  • sugar
  • tamari or fish sauce
  • minced thai chili peppers (optional)
  • minced garlic (optional)

Marinated Fried Tofu

This is another not recipe, recipe. I gave a the marinade ingredients to a group of kids and told them to combine them and then taste and adjust until it was good. Meanwhile,another pair of kids were cutting very even cubes of tofu, laying them between layers of towels and weighting them with pots and pans on top of cutting boards to squeeze the liquid out. Then, another team placed the cubes of dried out tofu into the marinade in a single layer, flipping them occasionally until they had absorbed all of the marinade. Then another child fried them up in sizzling oil!


  • Firm fresh tofu
  • Tamari
  • Mirin or sugar
  • sesame oil
  • minced ginger
  • minced garlic
  • minced scallions
  • ground Szechuan peppercorns
  • oil for frying


  1. Cut the tofu into even cubes. Place the cubes between layers of paper towels and place a cutting board on top of them. Put your heaviest pot on the cutting board. While the liquid is being squeezed out of the tofu, make the marinade
  2. Combine tamari, mirin (or sugar), sesame oil, ginger, garlic, scallions and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings until it is good. Put the marinade in the bottom of a 9 x 12 ceramic or glass baking dish. If there is not enough marinade to generously cover the bottom of the baking dish, make more
  3. Lay the dried tofu into the marinade in a single layer. Turn the pieces every once in a while until all of the marinade is absorbed.
  4. Heat oil until very hot in a wide fying pan. Fry the tofu in a single layer, flipping them occasionally until they are cooked and a bit caramelized on all sides.
  5. Serve hot or room temperature.

Blistered Green Beans (or other green vegetables) with Black Sesame Seeds

This is my current favorite way to make green beans. You can use this exact same technique with broccolini, snow peas or sugar snap peas. We got pounds and pounds of green beans in our farmshare, so for camp we went with beans!


  • Green beans, broccolini, snow peas or snap peas
  • oil for frying
  • salt
  • black sesame seeds


  • Wash and trim your vegetables. Peas and beans should stay whole. Brocollini should be sliced in half lengthwise to make a flat side.
  • Heat the oil until very hot in a wide frying pan. Add the vegetables in a single layer. If you have too many do it in batches. If you have a mix of vegetables do them separately as they will have slightly different cooking times
  • When the vegetables have begun to blister on the side that is touching the pan, add 2 or 3 tablespoon an put a lid on the pan. Let them steam for 5 minutes then remove them from the heat and toss them with some salt and a handful of black sesame seeds
  • Serve hot or room temperature

Other Toppings

  • Chopped roasted peanuts
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Kimchi
  • Chili crisp
Winner of the “No Paparazzi- The bowl speaks for itself” Prize

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