Veggie Bowls with Four-ingredient Sesame Sauce

A few weeks ago, I found myself staring down a sparse fridge. It was nearing dinnertime and my willingness to expend energy on cooking was low. In this situation, some people would order in or go to the grocery store. But since I only dream of doing the former (only in times of real emergency, I tell myself) and tend not to do the latter without giving myself a minimum of 12 hours warning (too spontaneous), I had no choice but to make do.   


So I rewound to when my sister whipped up a delicious dinner with minimal ingredients and effort. The secret: A sauce made simply by blitzing together garlic, water, miso and tahini (aka sesame paste) in a food processor and pouring the stuff over cooked veggies and quinoa. 

Now, I should say here that I’m entirely for culinary improvisation. But when a recipe is so simple, if I found myself missing both a key ingredient (miso) and a key piece of equipment (the food processor), I would normally be inclined to skip it.  


But on this day, I forged ahead, sans miso and processor. I stirred water and grated garlic into tahini and called it dinner.

And it was delicious. Savoury, smooth, salty, and sharp from the fresh garlic, it’s exactly the sort of sauce you want to smother your veggies in. I ate it again the next night, even though the requisite 12 hours had passed and groceries had been picked up. 


It pops up on the menu regularly now, sometimes with added chile or garlic, and sometimes overtop noodles or rice with different combinations of veggies and proteins.

Feel free to tweak it to the contents of your fridge and your tastes. And don’t feel the need to save it for when your fridge is running on empty (though, of course, it’ll work just fine then too). 

Sesame Sauce (with tips on turning it into a veggie bowl)
Adaped from Post Punk Kitchen, via my sister
Serves 2 and scales easily

Note: Feel free to experiment with the sauce, stirring in ingredients like grated fresh ginger, soy, chile or miso (as originally called for). Mix in ~1/2 tsp of the spices and aromatics, and 2 tbsp of the miso, taste and adjust from there. 

Ingredients (sauce)
1-2 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled (you’ll need about 2 tsp in total)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp tahini (aka sesame paste)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp water
1/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste

Ingredients (bowls)
1.5 - 2 cups of hot, cooked quinoa or rice, or cold soba noodles
3 - 4 cups of hot, cooked vegetables (I like steamed broccoli, cauliflower and peas, but fried or roasted veggies would be work too) or some combination of veggies and protein (like cooked beans, fried tofu, or boiled/poached eggs)
Fresh herbs to taste (I like cilantro and thai basil)


1. Grate your garlic into a small bowl. Add in the remaining sauce ingredients – tahini, water and salt – and stir until the consistency is smooth and the sauce has lightened in colour. Taste and adjust ingredients as necessary (note that the garlic flavour will intensify quickly as the sauce sits, so give it a few minutes before you add more). Add more water, a tablespoon at a time, if you prefer a thinner sauce. 

2. Divide your grains, veggies, proteins and herbs evenly between two bowls. Pour the sauce evenly over the two bowls. It may seem like a lot of sauce, but don’t be shy here. Now dig in! 


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