Sweet Chile Grain Bowl with Tofu

Sweet Chile Grain Bowl with Tofu

Jan 22, 2024Ground Up


by Deb Bernardini

YIELD: 4 servings

There are two methods for cooking grain berries – the absorption method, like cooking rice, or the boiling method, like cooking pasta. Methods below are adapted from Joshua McFadden's Whole Grains for Every Season. (A highly recommended book loaded with ideas, tips, information, and recipes for using whole grains.)

Absorption Method

Add water, salt* (if desired), and berries to a heavy-bottomed pot with a lid using the liquid to grain ratios below. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. (Your water will boil faster if you cover it, but it may also boil over). Once you achieve a rolling boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Stir gently, then cover, and cook until the grains are cooked through – tender but not mushy – approximately 45 minutes to one hour. Don’t stir once covered, as stirring will break down the starches and result in a porridge-like consistency. Check the grains about 30 minutes into the simmering process to make sure they still have enough liquid. Add additional boiling water if necessary to allow your grains to cook sufficiently. 

Water to Grain Ratios
Rye: 3 ½ cups water to 1 cup rye berries
Wheats: 2 ½ cups water to 1 cup wheat berries
Spelt: 2 cups water to 1 cup spelt berries

*Use approximately 1 tsp salt per 1 cup of grain

Boiling Method

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. (At least four times the amount of water to the amount of grain) and cook uncovered, at a full boil, until the grains are tender. This method is a quicker than the absorption method, but it still takes longer than cooking pasta, approximately 30 minutes.


  • 1 package firm or extra firm tofu

  • 1/4 cup neutral oil such as grapeseed

  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or minced

  • 1/4 cup ketchup

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 1 tablespoon chile crisp, or more to taste

  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar

  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 1 1/2 pounds Napa cabbage, halved lengthwise, cored and sliced crosswise 1/2" thick

  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

  • 4 cups cooked grain berries, such as Ground Up Organic Danko Rye, Organic Spelt, Hard Red Spring Wheat, or Hard Red Winter Wheat

  • chopped cilantro, for serving


  1. Heat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Cut the tofu into 1" thick slabs, then cut each slab in half to make squares. Line a plate or baking sheet with paper towels and place tofu on top. Place another layer of paper towels on the tofu and weigh down with a skillet or cans. Let sit for at least 15 minutes.

  3. While tofu is draining, make the sauce: Heat the oil in a small pot or skillet over medium-high. Stir in the garlic and let cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in ketchup, soy sauce, fish sauce, 1/2 tablespoon of the chile crisp and the rice vinegar. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

  4. In a small bowl, mix the tomatoes, the remaining 1/2 tablespoon chile crisp and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

  5. Place tofu on one side of the prepared baking sheet and generously brush both sides of the pieces with the sauce.

  6. Add the cabbage to a bowl sprinkle lightly with salt and toss with 1/4 cup sauce. (Reserve remaining sauce for serving.) Spread cabbage on the other side of the baking sheet in an even layer.

  7. Roast tofu and cabbage for about 30 minutes, tossing the cabbage after 15 minutes. The tofu should be lightly golden at the edges and the cabbage tender and bronzed. Toss about half of the scallions into the cabbage and squeeze lime wedges over everything. Taste cabbage and add more salt or sauce, if needed.

  8. To serve, put 1 cup grain berries in each of 4 bowls. Drizzle the grains with a little of the sauce. Top with tofu, cabbage, and spicy tomatoes. Garnish with cilantro and remaining scallions, and drizzle with remaining sauce. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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