The person responsible is Carolynn Carreño, whose recipes I can't resist. They're in her new book, "Bowls of Plenty: Recipes for Healthy and Delicious Whole-Grain Meals."
Just one example is the beet and quinoa salad at the top. It's a wonderful blend of flavor, color and texture--crunchy toasted hazelnuts, soft goat cheese, slightly bitter radicchio, naturally sweet beets and tiny grains of red quinoa.
Carreño (above) knows how to make food taste really good. A James Beard Award winner, she has co-authored cookbooks by food luminaries such as Nancy Silverton, who praised her "finely tuned palate and excellent taste" in the foreword to the book.
"Whole-grain meals" in the title sounds like a book devoted to health food. Instead, this is healthy food, and there's a difference. It's not just for vegans and vegetarians, although they'll find recipes to suit their needs, but for anyone who would like to eat well.
Some bowls include meat, but not much. Shrimp are in this sumptuous line-up of components for a build your own Asian bowl.
Carne asada and grilled chicken go with this build your own Mexican bowl. Carreño was born in Tijuana, where her father had a restaurant, Bodegón de Guillermo. She includes Tijuana's famous Caesar salad in her book, turning it into a warm chicken Caesar bowl with quinoa and kale--the kale replaces romaine.
The ingredients composing each bowl have been chosen to blend well. "I'm a control freak," Carreño said. "I don't want you to choose unrelated things."
She makes a point of adding flavor to each component, including the grain base. For corn rice, she cooks the grains in stock made by boiling corncobs. At Melissa's, the grain was red quinoa (above) instead of rice.
Carreño didn't write this book to capitalize on the current craze for bowls. She said she began eating healthy bowls long ago to counteract the rich food of the fine dining world.
"Is the bowl here to stay? I kind of think it is," she said.