The Whole Bowl Revisited

I woke up at crack of dawn this morning with a craving I could not put my finger on. I sipped the coffee I’m trying (valiantly!) to give up and made a mental inventory of every vegan dish I’ve ever made until finally….FINALLY….I remembered the taste I was longing for: The Whole Bowl.


The Whole Bowl is a vegetarian bowl made by a Portland food truck company called, well, “The Whole Bowl.”


Amazingly, though Portland is first of my top five favourite American cities (followed by Sonoma, San Francisco, Baltimore, and New York…in that order), I’ve never actually sampled the food from The Whole Bowl. It’s in the Pearl District–the best part of Portland and the home of Powell’s Books, the best bookstore in the entire world.

Anyway, the central ingredient, called “Tali” sauce (apparently named for the owner) is top secret, but many have tried to replicate it, and I consulted these various versions when I first started making it about five years ago.  Even then I was alarmed by the 1/2 cup of olive oil most of the recipes called for, and replaced it with Veganaise.  When I made it today, however, I replaced the olive oil with soft tofu (a savings of 900 calories!!!).

The texture is more of hummus-y than sauce-y, but it’s delicious. I do suspect it is absolutely NOTHING like the original, which I some day hope to taste!

Anyway, here’s my recipe for the Tali sauce, and a picture of the whole arrangement beneath it:

  • 1/2 cup soft tofu
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 6 clove garlic
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp EACH of tumeric, curry powder, chili powder, cayenne, onion powder, sea salt

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Makes 2 and 1/3 cups, so if each bowl gets a 1/3 cup serving on top, it makes about seven servings at about 115 calories/serving.

Keep refrigerated.

To arrange the bowl, spread the rice on the bottom and then arrange the rest of the ingredients in segments on top of the rice:

1/2 c brown basmati rice

1/8 c sliced black olives

1/4 c black beans

a couple of big TBs salsa

1 ounce avocado

1/4 cup  Tali sauce (recipe above)

chopped cilantro to top


Be warned: the Tali sauce is super spicy, but absolutely delicious. According to the nutritional information on The Whole Bowl website, a large “veganized” bowl clocks in at about 525 calories, but this one (which, granted, likely tastes little like the original) will cost you only about 375 cals.

Aaaand, the music for the day is Another Day, Another Time, a concert celebrating the music from the Coen Brothers’ movie, Inside Llewyn Davis. Here’s the entire concert, compliments of Youtube. I don’t even usually like concert films, but this one is awesome–so good, in fact, that I’ve watched it half a dozen times at least!

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