warm grain bowl with roasted cauliflower & spicy chicken

warm grain bowl with quinoa, roasted cauliflower, & spicy chicken | two red bowls

You guys, I had my wedding dress fitting this Monday!  It might have been the most excited I’ve ever been for a Monday morning.  Now I’m wishing workweeks always started with a trying-on-a-very-beautiful-tailored-for-you-thing appointment.  It would be zero percent financially sound and one hundred percent awesome.  

Unrelatedly, if it’s one thing I’ve learned through this whole wedding process, it’s that I’m pretty sure I’m the world’s worst client.  How is it possible to think you know exactly what you want (maybe) but also totally not be able to express it — at least, for me, without hemming and hawing and getting indecisive, or else getting too shy to speak my mind, or speaking my mind then thinking I’ve changed my mind, or emailing two hours later with said changed mind, or emailing again changing my mind after that

I’m the worst.  Any ideas for forgiveness-inducing thank you gifts are appreciated.

But it was still amazing.

Also, yesterday I had a dentist’s appointment.  So that was the same amount of excited that I always am for Tuesday.

warm grain bowl with quinoa, roasted cauliflower, & spicy chicken | two red bowls
warm grain bowl with quinoa, roasted cauliflower, & spicy chicken | two red bowls
Plates: Speck & Stone & Akiko Graham via The-Commons; bowl & mug: Speck & Stone; pinch dishes: The Fortynine Studio; tea towels: Fog Linen.

Anyways, speaking of weddings, B2 and I have both been trying (not very hard, but trying) to eat a little more conscientiously now that we’re getting into these fittings and suit-shopping (wee) shenanigans.  It’s nothing too crazy (like, I discovered last week that I finished two 10 oz bags of chocolate chips on my own — without, say, actually baking them into anything — and next week I have this super light except not light French toast thing heading your way) but just green things when we can, fresh and crunchy things, good-feeling things, et cetera. We spent a super fun weekend chowing down on these summer rolls, and a few weeks ago I made a couple of these grain bowls on a whim.

They were inspired by a surprisingly delicious grain bowl I had on a late night in the office — corporate Seamless can sometimes be a wasteland for healthful eating, but that bowl was full of crunch and flavors and, most of all, some amazing roasted cauliflower.  I feel like roasted cauliflower has been making the rounds lately (just look at this roasted garlic & cauliflower pasta, or this charred cauliflower carbonara, oh my gosh), and I’ve been meaning to try it for forever and a day.  Now that I’ve had it, I’m so sad I hadn’t earlier!  It becomes so savory irresistible when roasted, and adds a toasty umami, plus an amazing texture, to everything it’s mixed into.  

These bowls take that roasted cauliflower and add a good dose of Parmesan cheese for heartiness (a la these quinoa cakes), toothsome sautéed kale for bite, and some sundried tomatoes and buffalo chicken for piquancy.   With quinoa and a handful of fresh greens to tie it all together, I thought it was a perfect weekend lunch, the kind of meal that’s healthy like salad but warm and nourishing like winter food needs to be.  Hope you’re all having wonderful weeks!

warm grain bowl with quinoa, roasted cauliflower, & spicy chicken | two red bowls
warm grain bowl with quinoa, roasted cauliflower, & spicy chicken | two red bowls
warm grain bowl with quinoa, roasted cauliflower, & spicy chicken | two red bowls
warm grain bowl with roasted cauliflower & spicy chicken | two red bowls
warm grain bowl with quinoa, roasted cauliflower, & spicy chicken | two red bowls

Warm grain bowl with roasted cauliflower & spicy chicken.

This serves two. It's easily doubled if you want to keep the separate ingredients on hand to mix the next day for a quick and easy lunch. Does not freeze particularly well, though.


  • to roast the cauliflower:
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • sprig of thyme (optional)
  • a shake of red chili pepper
  • salt and ground black pepper, to taste (I used about 1 tsp salt and a shake of pepper)
  • 1-2 tsp grated Parmesan
  • to steam the chicken:
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • parchment paper or foil, for steaming
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce (I used Frank’s)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • to sauté the kale:
  • 2-3 tsp olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 cups kale, ribs removed
  • 1 tsp grated Parmesan
  • salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp water or chicken stock
  • to assemble:
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (or lentils, wheatberries, farro, etc.) (see Notes for how to cook quinoa)
  • 7-8 small sundried tomatoes (about 1/2 cup)
  • handful spring greens or arugula
  • 1/4 cup grated or shaved Parmesan, or more or less, to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil two large roasting pans or baking sheets, or line with parchment paper. Toss the cauliflower florets with one tablespoon of vegetable oil, minced garlic, thyme, and chili pepper, then spread the florets out onto a single layer on the pans, leaving a little room for the chicken on one. Season with salt and pepper to your liking, then set aside.
  2. Heat a bit more vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken breast on both sides with salt and pepper, then turn the heat to medium and sear the chicken for a minute on each side, until golden brown. Place onto a large square of parchment paper or foil, drizzle with hot sauce and brown sugar, then fold the paper in half and crimp to seal. Place onto the baking sheet along with the cauliflower. Roast the cauliflower and bake the chicken at the same time. Remove the chicken after about 20-25 minutes, and remove the cauliflower whenever it’s well-browned on the edges, about 25-30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, sauté the kale. Slice the ribs off if you haven’t already, then heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok or skillet with the garlic until garlic begins to crackle. Add the kale and sauté until kale is well-coated in oil and just beginning to soften. Add the water or chicken stock, parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste, and continue to sauté until wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Finally, assemble the bowls! Slice the chicken, then simply divide all the ingredients evenly between two bowls, top with sundried tomatoes and a handful of greens, and finish with plenty of Parmesan and an extra drizzle of hot sauce. Enjoy immediately.


To prepare the quinoa, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. (For a more savory quinoa, replace half the water with chicken stock.) Add the quinoa, reduce heat to medium, cover and let simmer for 12 minutes, or until water is almost all absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for another 15 minutes. Fluff and enjoy!



  1. says:

    February 25, 2015 at 8:10 am

    YYAYYYYY wedding dress fitting!!!!! that’s so exciting. omg you are in now way, shape, or form the world’s worst client i am sure because you are about the furthest thing from a bridezilla in the entire world. the thing that’s unbelievable about the whole wedding process is how many damn decisions there are to make! it would make anyone feel nutso.

    i love the look of these bowls! need more vegetables in my life. and those ceramic dishes are gorgeous!!

    • tworedbowls says:

      February 26, 2015 at 11:33 am

      Molly you’re the sweetest!!! Nutso is so right. I feel like I need to watch a Say Yes to the Dress meltdown or two to make myself feel more normal. hahaaa. <3 <3 <3 I can't wait to see more of your magical honeymoon!!!

  2. says:

    February 25, 2015 at 8:23 am

    AHHH SO EXCITING ABOUT THE WEDDING DRESS FITTING!!!! so excited to hear more about your wedding and watch the plans unfold! will be watching out 🙂

    Also, these bowls are stunning. Your pictures are gorgeous as always, and I love all things roasted cauliflower.

    • tworedbowls says:

      February 26, 2015 at 11:35 am

      Aw Michelle!!!! I’m so glad that I’m not turning into a wedding one-note over here! It definitely feels that way sometimes 😉 thank you so much, lady!! And omg I hope you’re having the BEST TIME in Singapore / Manila right now!!!

  3. themoonblushbaker says:

    February 25, 2015 at 9:04 am

    I am so happy to see that you had your fitting! One step closer to the big day 🙂 Cynthia, can not wait to see how stunning you look in it! These bowls are my idea of lighter eating. NO flavour is sacrificed but it is still as temping. Your photography makes me want to get on healthy eating train with you.

    I am so with you about roasted cauliflower with everything. I have fallen in love with this recipe from food52 if roasting is too much, not the lightest but it is delicious. http://food52.com/recipes/31248-pasta-with-slow-cooked-cauliflower-anchovies-and-garlic

    • tworedbowls says:

      February 26, 2015 at 11:38 am

      You are so so sweet, Belinda!!! Oy, yes, hop on and help me stay on cuz I keep falling off and eating cookies and chocolate til the cows come home hahahaha.

      Also, oh man that F52 pasta recipe sounds INCREDIBLE. Need to try that asap!!

  4. says:

    February 25, 2015 at 9:29 am

    so excited for you guys, wedding dress/suit fittings are such fun parts of the whole deal! i’m sure you two are going to look super spiffy! so much good stuff coming your way, couldn’t be more elated for y’all! and these bowls are absolutely beautiful! loving the cauli in all its roasted ways – a little caramelization goes such a loooong way! xo!

  5. says:

    February 25, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Yay!!!… about your wedding dress, Cynthia! I’m sure it’s going to be insanely gorgeous.

    And your styling in this post is perfect, as always. Love this yummy dish! 🙂

  6. says:

    February 25, 2015 at 11:48 am

    I know TOO WELL what you mean. I got married last June and for the six months prior to that, I lived off of grain bowls, basically. No more rice, pasta, or bread. I went low-carb and gorged on vegetables, quinoa, and protein. Actually, I enjoyed it – I am a sucker for quinoa :).

  7. says:

    February 25, 2015 at 11:53 am

    I’m laughing out loud to myself about your chocolate chip comment…mostly because I can relate entirely! A few here, a few there, and next thing you know that damn bag is empty! Maybe you could blame it on B2? That’s what I usually do, though it never works 😉

    And eeeeeeek to wedding dress fittings and other planning! How exciting! I reallllly hope you post a pic of you in the dress on the big day. Please??

    Finally, as always, a wonderful recipe and gorgeous photos. I love bowls so much more than salads and have been finding them far more satisfying during the winter months. Can’t wait to try!

    • tworedbowls says:

      February 26, 2015 at 1:21 pm

      HAHA! I am so glad I’m not the only one!!! Yeah, let’s just say it’s B2……

      And aw omg you are so sweet, Brooke!! I’m so happy that if/when I post pics it won’t just be for me! 😉 Thanks for making me smile, friend!

  8. says:

    February 25, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    Wedding Dress Fitting!!!.. I know it’s going to be stunning. Love hearing about your wedding plans and I doubt you the worst client. 🙂 All the different flavors in this bowl sound delicious. Especially with that spicy chicken and roasted cauliflower.

    • tworedbowls says:

      February 26, 2015 at 1:31 pm

      Erika, you always make me smile! I’m glad all this wedding talk isn’t tooo boring. Thanks for the sweetest comments, always 🙂

  9. says:

    February 25, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    Love love LOVE these gorgeous images and those delicious looking bowls. YUM! Congrats on your dress fitting – so excited for you! I think I would be the world’s worst client, too. I feel you. <3

  10. says:

    February 25, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    Oh I am just so excited for you! Every year since getting married I ask Scott “can we do it again??” Planning the wedding is so fun, and then there is the actual wedding! Such a party and celebration!! Ah marriage. It’s the BEST. Hope you keep having the most stellar time planning it. (Oh and this grain bowl looks so cozy and delicious!)

  11. stephanie says:

    February 25, 2015 at 9:59 pm

    gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, as always. but probably not as gorgeous as you’ll be in your wedding dress!!! you must be over the moon excited!!!!

    these bowls are just the thing i want to eat on a chilly winter night. i can just imagine the nutty quinoa, tender chicken and charred cauliflower. heaven 🙂

  12. says:

    February 26, 2015 at 5:11 am

    Ha, so much to relate to in this post. I am getting measured for my dress in just over a week and I’m so scared/excited/freaked out all at the same time. And I’m definitely trying to eat a little cleaner/more nutritionally focused in preparation so this bowl of goodness sounds perfect. Absolutely perfect.

  13. says:

    February 26, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    I’m pretty positive that you are the sweetest client ever and you could never come remotely close to world’s worst. I can’t wait to see your dress!!! I bet it’s the prettiest thing ever–especially after all of your carefully thought out changes. I seriously loved hearing about your chocolate chip eating spree because Moses does the exact same thing except he tries to blame me when they’re not there and I turn the kitchen upside down looking for the chocolate chips I know I picked up a week ago.

    I feel like I need more bowls like these in my life (and the actual vessels they’re in–gorgeous!!). Veggies need to be a daily thing when you start to reach the age of rapidly slowing metabolism (aka welcome to club 30).

  14. says:

    February 26, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    I love your healthy approach to eating and staying fit (especially during this crazy season for you)! I always try to eat as healthy as I can 85% of the time and the rest is up to fate and destiny….hahaha. Meaning, I’ll still get a pastry or two on many days a week. 😀 And I’m so excited for you–I can almost imagine how you’ll look on your wedding day! And I seriously hope this will be a blessed and not-too-hostile journey for you two. You know, usually this is the time many couples tend to disagree 😛

    And as for this dish–omannnnn love it!! You might have noticed my love for quinoa and ummm vegetables…and roasted vegetables ALWAYS get me. Maybe as much as–dare I say it–cake?!!

  15. says:

    February 26, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    EEEEEE!!! Wedding dress fitting!! That’s so exciting! Also – you definitely shouldn’t apologize for being indecisive – it’s the one day you can say “I do what I want!” to everyone who passes by you and they’ll forgive you without apology. I need to get in on your eating-green-things diet (right now I’m on the bag of chocolate chips diet – seriously, I eat them straight of the freezer every time I pass by). This bowl sounds incredible and as soon as we’re back from FL, I’m making it.

  16. says:

    February 27, 2015 at 1:22 am

    You do not need to be dieting! You look adorable and perfect. Congrats on the fitting and finding the perfect dress. Now those bowls look pretty tasty, winter cauliflower perfection 🙂

  17. says:

    February 27, 2015 at 9:20 am

    GAH! Wedding happenings. So exciting yet vomit inducing, all at once. I, too, am chronically indecisive so naturally I bought a second (very plain) dress in the event I wake up on our wedding day and don’t like my original gown. Thom was obviously very annoyed by this but it was the ONLY thing I could do to keep from stressing out about my dress. And I hear you on the eating healthier thing. It’s been our MO around here. Whole grain bowl dinners are, undoubtedly, a good place to start. 🙂 XX

  18. says:

    February 27, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    Yay for wedding dress fittings! So exciting! These grain bowls are seriously gorgeous. I don’t eat meat but I would gladly sub the chicken for a veggie alternative!

  19. says:

    February 28, 2015 at 11:22 am

    My dress was my favorite thing about my wedding (other than marrying my husband, haha). I am not a typical “girlie girl,” but I loved feeling like a princess for a day!
    I love this grain bowl. It looks super nourishing and delicious.

  20. says:

    February 28, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    The food looks delicious. A friend at work has suggested I try quinoa so perfect timing that I came across this recipe. As for the dress it is your big day so I think you can (and should!) be forgiven for the multiple changing of the mind! 🙂

  21. says:

    February 28, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    Yayyy I have all of these ingredients! I suppose as a great forgiveness gift, you could just make the people in your life one of these bowls 🙂 as a matter of fact, I could use one right now as well. (Can’t we always?) Good luck at all your wedding dress try-ons! It sounds like so much fun!

  22. says:

    March 2, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Oh this is gorgeous! And just the thing I want to be eating on cold winter days like these. It’s basically a rule in my life at this point that whatever I’m eating MUST be warm and comforting and this quinoa/chicken/cauliflower situation is perfect for just that! And wedding dress fittings!! SO exciting 🙂 🙂 And I feel you on the indecisiveness. I am a compulsive mind-changer as well 🙂 But I am sure you are far from the worst client! You will look stunning, no doubt.

  23. says:

    March 3, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials! That’s so exciting!

    I love colorful and healthy dishes that don’t skimp on the flavor. The combination of ingredients are brilliant and your pictures are absolutely stunning!

  24. says:

    March 3, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    Cynthia, your photo styling and photography are just unreal! You get better and better all the time, girl (and that’s saying a lot because you’ve always been super gifted in this area). I could stare at these photos all day. Then again, I’d get pretty damn hungry super fast so maybe that’s not such a good idea. I love this warm grain bowl. Hearty, comforting, delicious and healthy. I could definitely use more “healthy” in my life (I ate out, mostly at Chinese restaurants, for five days in a row. I feel like fat ‘n msg are coming out of my pores). And skweeeeee the wedding updates are so exciting! I can’t freaking wait to see photos of you on your big day.

  25. says:

    March 5, 2015 at 4:12 pm


    I am a French culinary blogger ( so excuse my English a little awkward ) and I came to see What did our friends across the Atlantic .

    I am delighted by your blog , beautiful pictures and beautiful recipes.

  26. says:

    March 10, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Such a lovely meal! As for wedding dresses, I definitely had my freak-out moments after deciding on the dress so you are not alone! Like, why did I choose a dress with such a long train? Or does this dress make me look short? LOL. You’ll be good in the end, I’m sure. I really was thrilled with my dress on the day of the wedding! 🙂

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