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Healthy Pesto Buddha Bowl

May 28, 2023
Shanika | Orchids + Sweet Tea
This Healthy Pesto Buddha Bowl is the ultimate plant-based dish for the entire family that offers bold nutty, savory, and herby flavors throughout. It's a definite crowd-pleaser!

Healthy Pesto Buddha Bowl

This Healthy Pesto Buddha Bowl is the epitome of delicious flavors in one dish. Packed with a ton of umami and boasting of perfectly roasted veggies, this bowl highlights potatoes, broccoli, baby Brussels sprouts, carrots, chickpeas, and is moderately dressed with a creamy pesto dressing that truly ties everything together. The perfect healthy meal for dinner or lunch that adults and kids-alike will enjoy. Made on just one sheet pan! All dairy-free ingredients + entirely meatless.

Veggies in two low bowls on a black table with pesto sauce and two forks and herbs.

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One of my favorite things to eat is a good food bowl. I just enjoy the easy assembly for a filling dish that allows you to mix and match based on your tastebuds. This Healthy Pesto Buddha Bowl is a recipe that the entire family will enjoy and it offers so many bold flavors. The star of it all----the creamy pesto sauce can be easily whipped together with homemade pesto or a high-quality store-bought one. Either way, just a little whisk together and wallah. The perfect drizzle is created.

This buddha bowl is a healthy, tasty, and complex in flavor recipe that adds the right amount of comfort to your meal experience without compromising nutrition. If you're looking for more delicious bowls like this one, then this Vegan Jamaican Power Bowl comes highly recommended, especially my readers and it was on Good Morning America last year! Of course, this Savory Chickpea Quinoa Buddha Bowl or Easy Green Goddess Buffalo Chicken Bowl is another easy option if you'd like to switch things up.

What is a Buddha Bowl + It's Components?

Whelp, basically a Buddha Bowl is a nourishing one-dish meal that has a little bit of everything. Generally, it consists of rice or grains, roasted veggies, a dressing, and a protein (usually beans, tofu, lentils, + sometimes meats + fish). In short, Buddha Bowls are made with the main focus on clean eating and was created based on Chinese + Japanese medicine principles.

Do You Cover Sheet Pan Meals with Foil?

I don't always cover everything with foil when making my sheet pan meals, however, you can do this to help entrap the heat when everything is baking to allow the food to cook more quickly, evenly, and with better results. But it's not at all required, depending on the ingredients. 

Jump to:

What Pan is Best for Sheet Pan Dinners?

OK, so the next step is understanding which sheet pan works best for these types of meals. In general, it is said that a commercial, high-quality half-sheet pan is the best to making sheet pan dinners with great results. Why? Mostly because it's sturdy enough to withstand high oven heat. 

Ingredients on a black wood table including potatoes, olive oil, chickpeas, and herbs and seasonings.

How to Make Healthy Pesto Buddha Bowl

To make this Healthy Pesto Buddha Bowl, you'll start by roasting your veggies after seasoning each separately until they are crisp and charred. Then you'll cook your grains of choice. Lastly, you'll whip together the pesto sauce in a food processor, then add it together with other ingredients for your creamy pesto dressing, stirring until creamy, and wallah! Assemble your bowl, Serve and enjoy!

Ingredients for Buddha Bowl

Here's what you'll need when making this delicious Pesto Buddha Bowl:

  • Grains. This fulfills the grains component of buddha bowls. You can always use brown rice, basmati rice, farro, barley, bulgur, etc. Quinoa, however is a great ingredient for those who are on a gluten-free. Plus, it's one of the highest protein whole grains and is so easy to cook.
  • Chickpeas. One of my faves! Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are packed with a host of vitamins, minerals, + fiber and offers a variety of health benefits. These can be enjoyed roasted or sautéed over the stovetop.
  • Olive oil. Use extra virgin olive oil for a richer flavor. You can also use Grapeseed oil , avocado oil, or coconut oil as well.
  • Dried herbs and spices. I love a combination of salt, black pepper, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, basil, parsley, cumin, and smoked paprika.
  • Carrots. These carrots create the delicious, flavorful, aromatic base of the bowl and also add great nutritional value.
  • Potatoes. Use russet or Yukon gold potatoes for the best texture. Peeled (or with skin on) + cubed.
  • Brussels sprouts. Cutting the sprouts in half help them crisp up. 
  • Broccoli. I love using broccoli or broccolini. You can also sub with an entirely different veggie. See post for options!
  • Creamy Pesto Dressing. This easy homemade dressing is blender together for a beautiful drizzle and added flavor. Made from homemade or store-bought pesto, vegan mayo, + Almond milk.

Nut-Free Pesto

Traditionally, pesto contains nuts. However, you can substitute the walnuts or pine nuts in this recipe with sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds for a nut-free version.

Broccoli, brussels sprouts, and carrots in a large silver bowl on a black table.

What You'll Love About this Bowl

  • It’s super easy to make.
  • Simple set + forget it—-let the oven do all of the magic!
  • Only requires ONE pan for roasting. Hello, easy cleanup!
  • Makes for a great weeknight meal or a laidback weekend dinner.
  • So well seasoned and full of texture.
  • Great for meal prepping and make aheads for the week!
  • Super customizable with the protein and veggie options.
  • Perfect ANY season vibes!
  • Did I mention, it’s just delicious? Both kids + adults approve!

Roast (Bake) Those Veggies For More Flavor

In this buddha bowl, I chose to roast the veggies first instead of boiling or steaming for more additional flavor! Knowing how to roast all vegetables (in general) perfectly is definitely a learned skill. All veggies are different and they all have vast cooking times.

The most common rule of thumb is to roast thicker vegetables at a higher temperature because they can handle the heat. For example, potatoes or sweet potatoes can roast at a higher temp because of their thickness. Broccoli, on the other hand, lends well to a lower heat when cut into florets.

If you choose to roast your broccoli florets, you simply prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper, adding them to it and drizzling them with 2 Tbsps of olive oil and a few pinches of seasonings. Let them bake for 15-20 minutes or until tender, caramelized, and golden at the edges.

Up close shot of seasoned veggies including broccoli, potatoes, carrots, chickpeas, and brussels sprouts.

Can I Add More Veggies?

Definitely! This is a great recipe to mix and match the ingredients/toppings. For added nutrients, fiber, and color, add your favorite veggies.

You can add roasted cauliflower, bell peppers, asparagus, green peas, roasted herb tomatoes, mushrooms, or leafy greens (kale, spinach, collard greens). All will be delicious!

Pesto sauce in a food processor on a black wood table with garnish of walnuts, herbs and seasonings.

What Can I Add to This Buddha Bowl?

I like to add some extra texture to easy food bowls like this Healthy Pesto Buddha Bowl. While the ingredients in this buddha bowl is perfect as is, I wanted to share a few more ideas of ingredients that you can add incase you make this bowl more than once and want to switch things up!

Other ingredient ideas include:

  • Roasted broccolini or broccoli or poblano peppers or Brussels sprouts, asparagus, beets, etc.
  • Sweet potatoes or regular potatoes instead of butternut squash
  • Farro, quinoa, barley, millet, couscous, cauliflower rice, bulgar, etc. instead of brown rice
  • Raw veggies like red cabbage, rainbow carrots, etc.
  • Leafy greens like spinach, kale, collard greens, etc.
  • Beans like kidney beans, black beans, white beans, etc.
  • Other delicious dressings made with garlic, tahini, etc.
  • Proteins like lentil, tofu, tempeh, mushrooms, etc.
  • Other seeds + nuts like sesame seeds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, etc

Common Q + A's for this Pesto Buddha Bowl

How to best store leftovers?

Place any leftovers in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

How to store leftover dressing + how long does it last?

Leftover dressing can be kept in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Can I make this buddha bowl ahead of time?

Absolutely! All ingredients can be made and individually stored as meal prep and assembled when ready to serve.

How healthy are Buddha bowls?

A Buddha bowl is a great example of a healthy, balanced meal. Because a majority of the bowl is made of up veggies, and the rest is a healthy mix of carbohydrates and protein, it's a meal that you can feel great about eating!

Why do they call it a Buddha Bowl?

According to research, It may originate from presenting a balanced meal, where balance is a key Buddhist concept, from the story of Buddha carrying his food bowl to fill it with whatever bits of food villagers would offer him, to the explanation of the overstuffed bowl resembling the belly of Budai.

Why have buddha bowls become so popular?

The idea of the bowl is thought to be more nourishing and comforting than eating your meal out of a plate. In addition, people tend to love the idea of a more balanced meal with a variety of options when it comes to ingredients.

Roasted veggies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

More Family-friendly Meatless Recipes to Try!

If you're loving this Pesto Buddha Bowl, then you'll enjoy these other meatless options which are perfect for the entire family:

MADE OUR RECIPE(S)?

If you tried this Healthy Pesto Buddha Bowl recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below. I love hearing from you.

Veggies in two low bowls on a black table with pesto sauce and herbs.
Veggie bowl in two low bowls on a black table with pesto sauce and two forks and herbs.

Healthy Pesto Buddha Bowl

May 28, 2023
5 from 9 votes
This Healthy Pesto Buddha Bowl is the ultimate plant-based dish for the entire family that offers bold nutty, savory, and herby flavors throughout. It's a definite crowd-pleaser!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 2 servings

Ingredients

ROASTED VEGGIES:

  • 1 large russet potato, chopped into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 cups baby Brussels sprouts, halved
  • handful organic carrots, w/ stem trimmed
  • 1 bunch broccoli, chopped into medium florets
  • ¼ cup Extra virgin olive oil (See Notes!)
  • 2 tsps sea salt
  • 2 tsps black pepper
  • 2 tsps garlic powder
  • 2 tsps dried oregano
  • 2 tsps dried basil

ROASTED CHICKPEAS:

  • 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained + rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil (See Notes!)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

OTHER:

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (See Post for other grain options)
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish

CREAMY PESTO DRESSING:

  • ½ cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 2-3 Tbsps pesto sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • 2 Tbsps Almond milk (You can use your fave plant-based milk)

Instructions

TO ROAST THE VEGGIES:

  • Begin by preheating the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
  • Add the potatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, broccoli and chickpeas to the baking sheet (grouping them together by veggie type + spreading them out to a single layer). Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the seasonings.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until potatoes and other veggies are tender and golden/charred. Remove from oven.

TO MAKE THE CREAMY PESTO DRESSING:

  • Add all ingredients (including the pesto sauce) into a high-powdered blender and blend until dressing becomes creamy. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

TO SERVE + ASSEMBLE:

  • To serve, add a spoonful of cooked rice to a low bowl(s), followed by: potatoes, broccoli, carrots, Brussel sprouts, and chickpeas, lining them side by side. Top with creamy pesto dressing + sesame seeds, if using.
  • Bon Appetit!

Tips & Tricks

  • STORAGE: Place any leftovers in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • OIL: If you'd like to use an alternative to olive oil, you can also use melted vegan butter, coconut oil, or grapeseed oil.
  • DRESSING (STORAGE): Leftover dressing can be kept in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  • HERB ROASTED TOMATOES: To make this, see my recipe here.
  • MAKE AHEAD: All ingredients can be made and individually stored as meal prep and assembled when ready to serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 1023kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 78g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 26g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 4001mg | Potassium: 724mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1569IU | Vitamin C: 76mg | Calcium: 225mg | Iron: 7mg

DID YOU MAKE THIS recipe?

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Signature of my name, Shanika in black font.

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  1. Shanika,

    I made this recipe for my family and omg it was amazing. The pesto sauce amplified the recipe even more. Thank you so much!

    • Hi Ria! I am so thrilled that you enjoyed this recipe! I definitely enjoy the pesto sauce flavor also! Thanks so much! 🙂

    • Yes! This Pesto sauce goes well with a lot of dishes! I hope that you get a chance to try it!

  2. I had this for lunch today, and MAN was it delicious! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe.

    • Yes! It's such a delicious, easy way to make veggies, RIGHT! I hope that you enjoy!

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