My Queso Bowl is Better Than Your Queso Bowl.

Probably.

Queso bowl with long grain brown rice, cherry bomb spiced black beans, steamed greens, avocado, crumbled tortilla chips, cornmeal-chili baked tofu cubes & vegan queso. If I permitted that c-herb in my life, it'd be on top.

Even fast food chains have bowls these days, so don’t you dare expect another break down on how to bowl it up.  I do happen to live in a bowl mecca (toot, toot on Portland’s horn), frequent both Cafe Yumm and The Whole Bowl for lunch – wishing Native Bowl was within reach – and crazily, it’s been two whole weeks since I’ve had bowl construction in my life. Blame fracturing my foot or something, and thank my friends for providing sustenance.

Now, I dig bowl meals because they offer variety, they’re saucy, they become a saucy mess, and as work lunches, can offer this assembly all over again, whether packed with sauce on the side or constructed level by level. The bowl below is my journey back to this land of bowl making, and includes several components – with one very special guest.

Cornmeal & Chili Baked Tofu

Special Guest Star: Food for Lovers Vegan Queso!

I definitely recommend Food for Lovers Vegan Queso and want to see this in more restaurants & stores – it’s so creamy and well-spiced! I’ve made the recipe in the past, and I was pleasantly surprised at how the jarred version was even better! Two words are in my future: Hello, nachos!

Note: Queso was purchased with my own money from Food Fight! Grocery. Word.

Yummmmmm Saucccccccccce

It’s a rite of passage for every Oregon-based food blogger: the reproducing of the Yumm sauce.

For those not in the loop, Cafe Yumm! is a chain of eateries based in Eugene, OR that feature bowls topped with their signature Yumm sauce. You can also buy the rather pricey sauce in containers at natural type stores around the metro area, sold in Original, Roasted Garlic & Chipotle varieties.

Portland had its first Cafe Yumm! open in the downtown PSU area this summer and I’ve gone a couple times so far. Cafe Yumm offers what you want in a bowl and they’re famous for compiling it: wholesome beans, grains,  assorted toppings & that memorable sauce.

Now, I have no problem shelling out my lunch money for regular Whole Bowl cart visits, and  I’ll return to Cafe Yumm, but something hasn’t been as fresh or colorful in the to-go boxes or wait at this new Cafe Yumm. I do believe I had a  side of tofu cubes that was… microwaved…what? Even stranger in contrast to how  great their glazed tempeh is.  Regardless, that sauce sure sticks and it’s about time I made it at home, for way less money, for my own grain + beans + vegetables + sauce arrangements.  So, I did. And I’m content.

Red Quinoa with balsamic roasted cremini mushrooms, mini eggplant, carrots, cherry tomatoes, summer squash and simmered pocha beans.

The not-so-secret ingredients that make it soooo yum? Nuts, beans, lots of lemon juice, nutritional yeast and curry powder. My batch of sauce was based on my available ingredients, yearnin’ for spicy chipotles and the tang of a Whole Bowl (yes, I know rumor is that they just ripped off the yumm recipe, but like I can’t name 10 other bowls with sauce off the top of my head anyway! there’s room for delicious bowl competition!) Dear Cafe Yumm, this post was written with nothing but adoration for bowls.

Imitation Chipotle Yummmmmmm-Style Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • ¼ cup black beans
  • 1/2 cup water
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle sauce (from canned chipotles)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • Dash dried basil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1.  Puree everything in a blender.

2.  Scrape down side sand add more liquid if necessary.

3.  Season to taste.

4.  Sauce it up.

More Recipes & Yumm fanaticism online:

Check out the ‘original’ ‘imitation’ links above. Again, my batch was based on what I had on hand and I am very happy with the results – but there are clear differences in other recipes online, as well as many notes on how to achieve yumm-style authenticity in their comments.

from Cafe Yumm at PSU