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Ah, the Grain Bowl. It has many iterations, and although the little tea room that once sold it has gone out of business, I make it my business to revive it every so often.

The basic elements of a Grain Bowl are raw vegetables (the green salad that makes up the base), a hot grain (or in this case, lentils), and cooked vegetables over the top. In the fall, I like to make Grain Bowls with roast ed maple root vegetables. But in the summer, I love some roasted asparagus and tomatoes, fresh basil, and spinach dressed in balsamic.

Making each component takes a bit of time, but if you make a big pot of grains and a big pan of roasted veggies, pulling everything together will be an easy and healthy lunch or dinner.

The Summer Grain Bowl
Makes 3-4 grain bowls

 1 cup lentils (also consider using quinoa, brown rice, or another grain)
2 cups broth or water
1 bunch asparagus
1 pints grape or cherry tomatoes
16 oz fresh baby spinach or other greens
4 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Fresh basil leaves

First, make your lentils or grains according to the package directions. Sometimes I cook mine with broth to make them more flavorful. When finished, set aside with lid on pot to keep warm.

To roast vegetables, preheat oven to 400F. Toss asparagus and tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper. If you have a large enough pan to put all of the vegetables on, do so. I had to use separate pans for my asparagus and tomatoes, which is all right because I reserved the tomato-infused olive oil leftover in the pan to make tomato vinaigrette. Roast your veggies for about 20-25 minutes, depending on size. The asparagus should be wrinkly and bright green, and the tomatoes should have popped.

Now, assemble your Grain Bowl. Make a vinaigrette with the 4 Tbsp olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Use some of this to lightly dress a handful of greens and layer the salad on the bottom of a large bowl. Pack about 1/3 cup of warm lentils into a small, shallow dish or measuring cup, and dump on top of the greens. (You can also just spoon them on.)

Finally, assemble some of your roasted veggies on top. Sprinkle on some fresh basil, and enjoy!

This recipe would also be great if you included some roasted golden beets or peppers. 

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