Grain, Green & Bean Skillet with Yum Sauce
4.71 from 27 votes

This plant-based grain, green & bean skillet is a simple and nourishing meal that can be adapted to fit what’s in your pantry and fridge. Served with a tangy and delicious tahini turmeric “yum” sauce!

A serving bowl holds colorful plant-based ingredients, dressed in a golden, creamy sauce.

If nothing else, the start of a new year gives us opportunity to think about where we’re coming from.

Twelve months ago, as 2016 got underway, I was buzzing with excitement at the prospect of a new book project. My mind was overrun with fun new recipe ideas and ingredient lists.

Having spent the last year bringing those recipes to life, I’m in a different place. I’m dipping my toes back into cooking, and what I’m craving isn’t creative or new. It’s simple and grounding.

In light of this, I thought it was appropriate to make this grain, green & bean skillet my last recipe post of 2016. It’s what I make when I’m not really in the mood to wrangle a recipe. It’s a complete, nutritious meal that comes together easily and leaves me satisfied.

A grain, a green, a bean

I’m not usually a fan of neat dictums when it comes to the business of healthful eating. But if there’s any motto that I can get behind, it’s “a grain, a green, and a bean.”

This food trinity provides protein, carbs, fiber, and phytonutrients. Depending on the bean and the green you select, you’ll probably get a good dose of calcium and fiber, too.

Add a bit of healthful fat, such as avocado, nuts/seeds, or a dressing of choice and you’ve got yourself a power plate. That is, a meal that covers your macronutrient nutrition bases.

A grain, green and bean dish is nestled into a serving bowl.

Customizing your grain, green & bean skillet

You can customize the grain, green & bean in this recipe to fit what you have at home. Here, I’m using brown rice, chickpeas, and kale.

These are ingredients that I always have in my pantry and fridge. Rice is inexpensive and easy to batch cook. Kale is available year-round in my neck of the woods. Chickpeas are without a doubt my favorite legumes.

But I’ve made this dish with many different grains, including farro, barley, wheat berries, quinoa, and millet. I’ve used broccoli rabe, spinach, and collard greens in place of kale. I’ve made the recipe with lentils, navy beans, pinto beans, and black beans.

If the greens in this recipe aren’t enough vegetable for you, don’t worry. You can stir in some zucchini, broccoli florets, green beans, cauliflower, or another favorite, chopped vegetable.

No matter what liberties you take with the recipe, don’t skip the sauce—or at least a sauce. The skillet gets some flavor from garlic, lemon, salt, and pepper. But the yum sauce adds acid, brightness, color, and some healthful fat from tahini.

An overhead photograph of a bowl containing brown rice, greens, and chickpeas.

An ode to yum sauce

You may be wondering what the heck “yum sauce” is.

It’s a mixture of tahini, nutritional yeast, lemon, vinegar, mustard, and turmeric. It was inspired by the yum sauce at Dobra Tea, which I tasted in Asheville over the summer. I wasn’t sure what the ingredients were, but I knew that mustard and turmeric were in there.

I loved the sauce so much that I rushed to re-create it when I got home. It reminds me of a sauce I used in my quinoa protein bowl ages ago. It’s also reminiscent of my turmeric tahini dressing. But I like it more than both of them. The nutritional yeast gives it a savory quality that I love.

The yum sauce is worth a try. But you can substitute another favorite dressing or sauce in the grain, green & bean skillet. Some options:

If that fails, try an extra drizzle of olive oil, avocado slices, or a big dollop of hummus.

A closeup photograph of rice, chickpeas, kale, and a creamy yellow sauce.

Preparing and storing your skillet

As with a lot of my meals, I like to prepare this one in stages. I generally cook the rice a day or two in advance of making it. If I plan to cook the beans from dry, I’ll do that in advance as well.

The yum sauce can be prepared up to a few days in advance. Once made, it keeps for up to six days in an airtight container in the fridge.

When I’m ready to eat, preparing the skillet is as simple as a little sautéing.

To store the grain, green & bean skillet, keep the cooked ingredients in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days. The yum sauce should be stored separately.

More grain, green & bean meals

Love this grain, green & bean skillet? Craving more grain/green/bean options? I’ve got some other favorites:

A serving bowl holds colorful plant-based ingredients, dressed in a golden, creamy sauce.
4.71 from 27 votes

Grain, Green, and Bean Skillet with Yum Sauce

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yields: 4 servings


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (substitute 1-2 tablespoons water for a no oil version)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced or very thinly sliced)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 small bunch kale, stemmed, chopped, washed, and dried (substitute another leafy green of choice)
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice (substitute another whole grain of choice)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (1 can, drained and rinsed) (substitute another bean of choice)
  • Lemon juice, to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 batch tangy yum sauce


  • Heat the oil or water in a large, deep, straight-sided skillet over medium-low heat. Add the sliced garlic. Allow the garlic to cook in the oil for about a minute, or until the slices are sizzling but not browning.
  • Add the kale the skillet, then add the broth. Cook the kale, stirring frequently, until it's tender and bright green (4-5 minutes). If the kale gets dry, add some extra vegetable broth. Stir in the rice, then the chickpeas. Mix all ingredients well, then add lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste (I like about a tablespoon of lemon, a generous pinch of kosher salt, and a few turns of pepper).
  • Plate the skillet mixture and drizzle it generously with the yum sauce. Serve.


Recipe can be doubled. Onions, mushrooms, peppers, and zucchini all make great additions to this meal!
An angled photograph of a bowl of whole grains, beans, and greens, which have been dressed with a golden-hued, creamy sauce.

This month, I’ll be focusing on simple food and simple cooking. I always try to think about simplicity when I create and post recipes, but I get carried away by projects, too.

Culinary projects—the big lasagna, the enchiladas, the layer cake—have a place. But this is a good time of year for getting back to basics.

I’ll also be touching on themes of self-care, practicality, and careful listening to one’s body—practices that can powerfully complement the intention of eating simply and well.

I’m signing off for now. Happy New Year, everyone!


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4.71 from 27 votes (10 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating

  1. Wow, your recipe for Yum Sauce is amazingly good. I can’t wait to try this sauce on a variety of different bowl combinations. MmmmMMMMmmmmm!

  2. Hi Gena! Can I substitute a bunch of fresh kale with some handful of frozen one that I previously freeze from other recipe?
    Thank you:)
    Like always, I think I’d like your creation so I need to try it soon!

  3. 5 stars
    Yum! I had zero motivation to cook tonight and then I remembered this meal that you had posted on Instagram recently. What an easy and satisfying meal! Thank you, Gena. Happy New Year!

  4. Your recipes have changed my life, Gena. It started with Power Plates and has just grown. Not only am I making delicious food in my kitchen but I’m also getting a better sense of what flavors go together and how to make a dish complex. When I’m down to those last items in my fridge, I have a lot more confidence that I can cook up something wholesome, healthy, and flavorful because of what I’ve learned from your recipes. I am so grateful! I tried this recipe tonight and loved it. I need to go food shopping, but I had all the ingredients I needed for this. So I can put it off for one more night! Perfect. Thank you again!

  5. 5 stars
    After typing in “a grain, a green, and a bean” into Google and reading through the top 10 results, I decided on this recipe. It looked simple, and the yum sauce had me intrigued. I am so glad I did! I added the optional onion, mushrooms, and zucchini to the recipe. The yum sauce adds an incredible zing and tang to the to the meal. Looking forward to finishing off the pot for lunches this week. Thank you for sharing.

  6. 3 stars
    I so wanted the Yum sauce to be yummy but found it had too strong of a mustard taste for me.

  7. I love recipes and inspiration like this. Thank you. Perfect for this season with a newborn and two year old. So glad I stumbled upon your Instagram.

  8. 5 stars
    This recipe is excellent. Thankfully, there was extra sauce…it was so delicious that I could, and did, put that sauce on everything!

  9. Hi, I am a first time visitor. I just read your interview at Olives For Dinner and “ran” right over to see your blog. I am touched by your honest journey towards health and joy. I too have had some similar struggles and it is refreshing to hear such a healthy voice. Your recipes look approachable and vibrant. I will be subscribing. Have a beautiful day. -Hanne

  10. 5 stars
    Turmeric is gorgeous! It celebrates the humble “grain, a green & a bean.”
    A shout out from our sisters and brothers in arms from the

  11. The YUM sauce looks YUMMY! I love how bright it is, thanks very much for sharing this recipe.

  12. 5 stars
    That YUM Sauce is right up my alley! WOWZA! And a fun, easy way to get more Turmeric, eh!?!?! Nice!

  13. 4 stars
    This was great with broccoli rabe. I liked the yum sauce but if i made it again I would do a little less tahini, less dijon, and more water and nutritional yeast.

  14. 4 stars
    Served this with some steamed sweet potatoes. It was pretty tasty but a bit tricky to do oil-free only because water sauteeing rice without turning it to mush was difficult. More oil-free recipes, please~!

    • 4 stars
      You could wait to mix the rice in after cooking the kale or green veggie. I don’t think it’s necessary to sautee it.

  15. Love this! I pretty much each something like this almost daily. We have a restaurant when I am from that is dedicated to bowls with “yumm” sauce so I thought I would share since it is big here.

  16. Just had this for dinner and it was absolutely delicious. The sauce is going to be a staple around here, just the right amount of mustard flavour and turmeric. It came together so fast as well!! I’m already looking forward to tomorrow’s leftovers. Thanks for posting such a delicious meal 🙂

  17. 5 stars
    These recipes look simple and quick to make and so very delicious. Can’t wait to try them all!

  18. 5 stars
    Gena this sauce is AMAZING!! I had the first batch w/sautéed veggies & rice & kale, the 2nd today w/steamed veggies over romaine w/chickpeas. Thanks for great ideas always!! Happy New Year 🙂

  19. 5 stars
    Thank you for this fantastic recipe. This is perfect for a moment.

    – gustavo woltmann

  20. I made this recipe for my husband and I on this snowy day. We both enjoyed it very much!

  21. This is so perfect right now. I’ve been eating like this for the past couple days on Lacy Davis & Jessica Wilkins’ Reset & Restore program, and meals like this are what my body is craving. That yum sauce sounds especially wonderful.

  22. Oh yum! 🙂 Thanks for this recipe! I’m a sauce/dip/condiment junky, and I love to find healthier vegan options that are still tasty! Can’t wait to try it! Kelli Brink

  23. 5 stars
    Thanks for another great recipe- this will be added to my rotation of salad dressings and sauces. Happy New Year!

  24. This looks amazing! So nourishing and simple, just what I’m craving as well. It would pack up lovely for warm lunches. Happy new year!

  25. 5 stars
    Looks delicious and healthy, will definitely try it over the weekend, i would add some mushroom and green zucchini just to make it more delightful, Thanks!

  26. What kind of mustard? The color suggests yellow mustard but I wanted to check before mixing this up! Happy new year, Gena– thanks for the great recipes, wisdom and inspiration.

    • I actually used Dijon! Thanks for asking — I’ll update the recipe to suggest as much, but I think yellow mustard would also be fine.

  27. Happy New Year’s, Gena! Here’s to 2017 and all the possibilities it brings 🙂