How to Host the Bowl-Inspired Dinner Party of Your Dreams

Photo: Jill Chen/Stocksy
Nutritious bowl-centric dining is all the rage right now—from gorgeous smoothie bowls to gut-healthy macro versions. (There's a reason why we declared 2016 the year of the bowl.) And now bowls are even making inroads in the home entertainment scene, offering up a fun twist on the dinner party that's healthy, pretty, and super easy.

So we asked chef Jose Andrés, mastermind behind Washington D.C.'s veggie-centric, fast-casual hotspot Beefsteak (think the tomato variety, not meat), for his advice on putting together a delicious bowl-focused dinner party. His top tip? It's all about setting up the perfect stations. At Beefsteak, customers start with a base of grains or greens, drizzle on a homemade sauce and a crunchy topping, then add chicken, salmon, or a poached egg for an added protein boost if they wish.

Here's Andrés' plan for the perfect bowl-inspired fiesta. Maybe for the next time you need to dazzle your in-laws or book club, but still want time to hit barre class? (Bonus: way fewer plates to wash.)

Station 1: Build the perfect base

Andrés—who is growing Beefsteak into a mini empire, with soon-to-open locations in Philadelphia and Maryland—is all about breaking your serving area into stations. And the foundation of a perfect Beefsteak bowl is a healthy base of greens or grains. Andrés likes to offer a few options, like rice, quinoa, bulgar, or just good old fashioned greens.

Station 2: Pick a sauce

After you have your base, it’s time for flavor. Andrés suggests creating a second station that offers guests a quick tomato sauce (spicy or mild), along with a second option, such as a savory, rich yogurt sauce with lemon and garlic, or a fresh pesto. Whatever it is, watch the consistency. “The sauce should be thin, but still coat your grains,” he says.

Station 3: Veggie central! 

The third station is where you really showcase the bowl's true star: colorful, market-fresh veggies. “Have about five options to choose from,” says Andrés. Think kale, broccoli, mushrooms, asparagus, bell peppers...whatever. “If you can’t make it to the farmer's market, go to your grocery store and ask them, ‘What’s in season? What are your freshest, sexiest vegetables?’" he says. "They may look at you funny, but that’s okay.”

Cook the veggies in boiling water and a dash of sea salt. “Just 90 seconds, until they're only just starting to get tender,” says the chef. Easiest dinner prep ever!

Station 4: Provide a dressing

To really punch up the flavor, Andrés recommends creating a fourth station with dressing to drizzle on top of the cooked veggies. “I am from Spain and like olive oil and sherry vinegar," he says. But soy ginger and lemon honey are super popular dressing options at Beefsteak.

Station 5: Top it all off

A bowl without some texture is, well, blah. “Here you can be bold," says Andrés. "Roasted pumpkin seeds and spicy pretzels are crunchy and fun. Cherry tomatoes or alfalfa sprouts have beautiful flavors—and they will be cool, a surprise on top of the hot grains and vegetables.” Even corn nuts and kale chips are fair game. Set out a few choices, then pat yourself on the back. You're done! Now let your guests go to town.

Phew! Here's more proof that comfort foods can be super healthy. Case in point: Ayurveda's own chicken soup for the soul

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