Roasted vegetable and quinoa harvest bowls are topped with crunchy pecans and a creamy mozzarella sauce to make a simple, hearty plant-based meal. It’s a perfectly cozy and satisfying weeknight dinner for a chilly evening!
A couple weeks ago I went out with my husband and daughter to a coffee shop that has some of the best coffee, but not a lot of savory foods available. Since they only had a single breakfast sandwich left when I called ahead, we ordered takeout from across the street at Triangle Char and Bar so we could have lunch with our mochas.
While I’m normally a sucker for sandwiches, I couldn’t resist the tantalizing description of a roasted vegetable harvest bowl with Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, shallots, corn, and a creamy mozzarella sauce. I mean, yum. Plus, it sounded like something I could give little bites of to my 8-month-old daughter. Win-win!
It was so good I could’ve happily eaten a double portion! Instead, I decided to try my hand at making a similar dish at home that week. It was a hit and I made it again tonight.
I tweaked the sauce ratios a bit, added some garlic (a MUST), and topped with some pecans at the suggestion of my sister, who taste-tested and pointed out it could use a little crunch. The pecans are now one of my favorite things about this dish! They add such a rustic, earthy (and crunchy) component that really completes the bowl. Thanks, Julie!
My sister went home and immediately added this recipe to this week’s meal plan, and my husband has said this roasted vegetable and quinoa harvest bowl is now one of his favorite meals. It will probably be added it to our regular rotation.
Making your roasted vegetable harvest bowl
This roasted vegetable and quinoa harvest bowl is fairly hands-off to make.
There are three components to this meal: The roasted vegetables, the quinoa, and the mozzarella sauce. Here, I’ll explain what I do for each!
Roasting your vegetables
You do have to cut up your veggies first, but they all cook together, which is very convenient.
I halve the Brussels sprouts and trim off any brown ends, or peel off any rubbery outer leaves. For the sweet potatoes I use a small dice, and the shallots are halved and thinly sliced.
Then I just throw them all on a large sheet pan with the corn (I used frozen but you could also use fresh or canned), some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them in the oven. If you toss them halfway through it helps them get those nice caramelized browned bits.
You want to make sure your veggies are in a single layer on your sheet pan so they roast rather than steaming.
After about 35 minutes in the oven everything is nice and tender with a bit of brown. Perfect for your harvest bowl!
Making the quinoa
You can make the quinoa in a medium saucepan on the stove or, like I do, in a rice cooker.
Did you know a rice cooker can be used to cook any grain, like quinoa, farro, or oatmeal? I use mine several times a week, and if you don’t have one I’d recommend getting one! Mine is just about the simplest one you can buy, similar to this one, with a single switch to “cook” that automatically changes to “keep warm” when it’s done.
I just follow the package directions for one cup of white quinoa, but you can use a different type if you’d like!
Making the creamy garlic mozzarella sauce
The creamy mozzarella sauce is a pretty standard cheese sauce to make. It starts with a roux, which is equal parts fat — here, butter — and flour. You cook just the fat and flour together for a little bit until the roux takes on a bit of a browned color, which also adds flavor to the sauce.
I added the raw, minced garlic to the roux and let it cook for about 30 seconds to become fragrant before adding the milk.
However, my sister also pointed out you could throw your garlic cloves on the sheet pan with your veggies to roast the garlic instead, which sounds pretty dang delicious to me. In that case, I’d remove the roasted garlic cloves and mash them into a paste with a fork before adding to my roux.
A roux is used to thicken sauces, so when you slowly add your milk, it creates a creamy mixture even before you add the cheese. I like to add just a little bit of milk first and whisk until it’s totally smooth before adding the rest of the milk. It helps to thin out the roux first rather than adding a whole bunch of liquid at once so you have a sauce that’s not lumpy.
The roux-milk mixture needs a few minutes to simmer before it thickens. Then you can remove it from heat and add the cheese. The cheese should melt right into the sauce with a little stirring and create a smooth, cheesy mixture!
Avoiding a broken cheese sauce
Don’t make the same mistake I did once when making a broccoli cheese soup!
I added the cheese while the heat was on medium high and my broth was simmering, and was surprised when the cheese didn’t melt into the broth. “Why isn’t it melting? I must need to turn the heat up,” I thought to myself. The higher I turned up the heat, the stringier and clumpier the cheese got. It was… unappetizing, to say the least. Edible, and the flavor was still ok, but the texture was kinda gross.
This is referred to as a broken sauce. If you see this beginning to happen, and the cheese starts to clump up rather than melting into the sauce, immediately remove it from heat rather than turning up the heat. You may be able to save it by adding a couple tablespoons of heavy cream and whisking vigorously off the heat. If not, you’ll have to start over.
But removing the sauce from heat before adding the mozzarella and making sure you don’t add the cheese when the mixture is simmering or boiling should help avoid that in the first place!
Assembling your roasted vegetable harvest bowls
You can assemble your bowls in a few different ways:
Option 1: Divide the quinoa between four bowls, then top with roasted veggies. Add the cheese sauce and the pecans.
Option 2: Divide the quinoa between four bowls and press to one side. Add roasted vegetables to the other half of the bowl (rather than on top of the quinoa). Top each bowl with cheese sauce and 2 tbsp pecans (that’s what I did in this photo).
OR, option 3: you can mix everything together — the roasted vegetables, quinoa, pecans, and creamy mozzarella sauce — into a large bowl and serve it family-style. Top with additional pecans, if you’d like.
What to serve with your harvest bowls
I think this harvest bowl would go great with some nice crusty bread, like this rosemary thyme no-knead Dutch oven bread, topped with some butter.
It’s also really great topped with some balsamic-marinated chicken if you want to add some extra protein!
But it also makes a very hearty standalone meatless, plant-based meal. Perfect for meatless Mondays, Lenten Fridays, or any day in between! Enjoy!
Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Harvest Bowl with Creamy Garlic Mozzarella Sauce
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts halved
- 1 large sweet potato diced, about 1 lb
- 1 1/2 cups corn kernels about 10 oz frozen
- 2 medium shallots halved and sliced thinly
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1/2 cup pecans
For the sauce
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 cup mozzarella
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Toss Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, corn, and shallots with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread out on a sheet pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, tossing once or twice throughout, or until vegetables have taken on some brown color and are tender on the inside.
- Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to package directions on the stovetop or in a rice cooker.
- For the sauce, melt the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add flour and stir until lightly browned. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add a little milk and whisk until mixture is smooth. Slowly add the rest of the milk, whisking constantly to prevent any lumps from forming. Simmer for about 5 minutes until sauce is thickened. Remove from heat and add mozzarella, stirring until sauce is smooth. Add salt and pepper
- To serve, either divide the quinoa between four bowls and top each with roasted veggies, creamy mozzarella sauce, and 2 tbsp pecans, or mix everything together in a large bowl and serve family-style. Enjoy on its own or topped with some balsamic marinated chicken!