A few months ago when I was in London, I ate at a food truck called Wholefood Haven. It’s signature dish — the Buddha Bowl. Brown rice – massaman curry with pineapple, potatoes and soya chunks – steamed garden greens – carrot and kimchee pickle – omega seed mix – halloumi cheese – dash of sweet chili oil. It was a blend of Asian, European, Mediterranean and whatever cuisine, mixed with a whole lot of creativity and goodness. I was surprised at how well the ingredients blended together, and impressed by the seamless transitions between flavors. Upon returning stateside, I thought about and craved for another Buddha Bowl for months, but there was none to be found. Calling L.A., serve up a Buddha Bowl!
Today, lucky me in London, when lunch came around, I ran to buy myself a Buddha Bowl (Big Buddha, please!). It definitely made for a silent meal since I didn’t put down my fork or stop chewing. Inspired by the fusing of cuisines, I created my own borderless vegetarian plate for dinner. Shiitake mushrooms – spinach – halloumi cheese.
This dish is meant to be enjoyed “family style” or “tapas style” (whichever cuisine are you leaning towards). Given that there’s no real precise way to cook this dish, I’ve detailed it out only as need be. Feel free to use up all the left over spinach in your fridge, however much that may be. Go ahead and toss in an entire box of shiitake mushrooms. Love halloumi cheese? Add a few more slices!
Sautéed Shiitake Mushrooms and Spinach topped with Halloumi Cheese
- One bunch of spinach, thoroughly washed
- Few handfuls of fresh shittake mushrooms (medium sized), rinsed clean
- One small block of halloumi cheese, sliced about 0.5 thick
- Sprinkle of sea salt
- Drops of olive oil
To cook the spinach and the shiitake mushrooms, heat the olive oil in a wok over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the shiitake mushrooms and gently sauté for about 4 minutes. Once the mushrooms have started to soften, add the spinach into the wok by handfuls. Add a sprinkle of sea salt to taste. Continue to sauté for another 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Drain any liquid from the wok, and plate the spinach and shiittake mushrooms.
To grill the halloumi cheese, heat a pan on medium heat until hot. I used a cast iron grill pan to get the crisp grill marks, but any pan will work. Once the pan is hot, place the cheese on the pan and grill on each side for about 3 minutes, until the cheese is soft on the inside and is lightly browned on the outside. Serve the halloumi on top of the spinach and shiitake mushroom.
Additions: Since I am traveling and do not have all ingredients on hand and did not want to fully stock up a short term kitchen, I was limited on my flavorings. Other additions worth noting to be added include a dab of hoisin sauce, a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds, a bit of hon dashi, or a dash of balsamic vinegar.
Pairings: I would suggest pairing the dish with quinoa or brown rice (we enjoyed it with quinoa), and a side of sautéed diced chicken with cashews, topped with a generous squeeze of lemon and sprinkle of sesame. Since this is only my first few posts, while I wish I could link you to such a recipe, you’ll have to bear with me while I build up my collection. Welcome, you early adopters, to the Worktop!