Like so many cooks, I rarely make the same dish twice. Most of our dinners are a mix of whatever I have in the fridge and a few pantry staples. While I love trying new recipes, the fun comes when I use them as guidelines. This is especially true of grain bowls.

Ahead of Earth Day on April 22, I've been using whole-grain Kernza mixed with other grains. Kernza is the climate-friendly cousin to wheat, and provides tremendous ecological services on farms. The plant's long tap roots help protect our precious waterways, preserve topsoil and shelter pollinators and wildlife. It's such an interesting, nutritious and good-tasting grain that Minneapolis Public Schools is featuring it on their Earth Day menu in celebration of the environmental movement's 54th birthday. Amanda Ewest, the school district's menu administrator, says Kernza's nutty flavor and unique role as a climate-friendly crop make it a great choice for this one-dish meal.

To build your own grain bowl, keep these four basic components in mind: cooked whole grains, seasonal vegetables, protein and a bright textural finish. Give each element enough love that you'll happily eat it on its own. To speed things up, cook a big batch of the grains ahead of time; they'll hold in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to a week, ready to go.

For the vinaigrette, try using hazelnut oil from American Hazelnut Co., another climate-friendly, local food, with a lush, nutty flavor. And fresh herbs are always a great idea.

Celebrate and protect our planet and its bounty with a big, beautiful bowl.

Big Beautiful Grain Bowl

Serves 4.

This recipe starts with a mix of two climate friendly local whole grains — Kernza and wild rice. They're topped with a mix of crunchy mix of sweet bell peppers, shredded carrots and fresh herbs, tossed with a snappy vinaigrette and rounded out with jammy eggs. Vegans may choose to substitute 2 cups cooked chickpeas for the eggs. Store any additional vinaigrette in a covered container in the refrigerator. From Beth Dooley.

For the grains:

• 1 c. wild rice, rinsed

• 1 c. whole grain Kernza (see resource list)

• Generous pinch salt

For the vinaigrette:

• 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

• 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

• 1/4 tsp. honey, optional

• 1/4 c. hazelnut or extra-virgin olive oil (see resource list)

• Salt and pepper to taste

For topping:

• 2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced

• 1 small banana pepper, seeded and sliced

• 2 large carrots, scrubbed and shredded

• 1/2 c. chopped parsley

• 4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled


Put the wild rice and Kernza into a large pot and add enough water to cover by 4 inches, along with a generous pinch of salt. Set over high heat, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer, cover and cook until the grains open, about 20 to 40 minutes, checking after 20 minutes. They should be tender but not too soft. Drain and set aside. Turn into a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, honey and oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Put the peppers and carrots into a medium bowl. Drizzle enough of the vinaigrette over the vegetables to lightly coat.

Drizzle enough of the vinaigrette over the grains to lightly coat.

Transfer the grains to individual bowls and arrange the dressed vegetables on top of the grains. Set the eggs on top of the grains and season with salt and pepper and a little more vinaigrette, to taste.


• Whole-grain Kernza is available at the Lakewinds Food Co-ops and from online retailers like

• Locally produced hazelnut oil from American Hazelnut Co. is also available at the Lakewinds Food Co-ops, Mississippi Market Co-ops and online at

Beth Dooley is the author of "The Perennial Kitchen." Find her at