The Biggest Mistake You're Making With Grain Bowls

Grain bowls tend to get lumped into the same category as the salads, avocado toasts, and fermented veggies of the world — often deemed as "health foods" reserved for the young and wellness obsessed. Even though they're more run-of-the-mill now, they can easily go sad and wilty. You don't want a sad grain bowl for lunch, do you? Luckily, with the right approach, these bowls can be endlessly customizable and complex. Might as well embrace their wholesome goodness, especially now that we may never eat a desk lunch again and you can make them fresh.

First, the basic components of a grain bowl: You have your grains, your protein, extra toppings, and dressing, according to Food Network. The grain base especially gives you a great opportunity to try something beyond your average brown rice or quinoa. It's worth considering options like barley, farro, or couscous and admiring the different textures they lend. 

Next is incorporating your protein, which also yields plenty of options — from some leftover rotisserie chicken to cubes of fried tofu or a classic fried egg. Round it out with your favorite veggies, herbs, nuts, cheese, seeds, or even dried fruit, and the grain bowl is almost complete (via Bon Appétit). But there is one essential step to keep in mind once you've put everything together.

Dressing is the key to an amazing grain bowl

According to the Food Network, the biggest mistake you can make with a grain bowl is overdressing it. We've all been guilty of soaking a caesar salad in dressing before, and the same mistake can easily be made here. The best way to combat an accidental drenching is to consider the grains you're using. Food Network explains that something firm like farro could handle a heavier dressing or sauce, like sriracha-peanut (via Kitchn), whereas you'd want to use something more delicate like a vinaigrette for a light grain like couscous.

Too much dressing can overwhelm everything else in the bowl and drown the grains, says the Food Network. Soggy is not what you're going for, so to avoid overdoing it, add a little dressing at a time and taste as you go. And if you want to break away from your typical salad dressing, try something like a tahini orange sauce, hoisin ginger, or a fresh chimichurri sauce (via Kitchn and the Food Network).