Whether it’s the success of Meatless Monday or simply a groundswell that’s been building, we’ve seen an increase in layered vegetarian cooking. It’s less about spin (although you can certainly go to fine restaurants and find inspired options) and more about simple dishes—specifically, some type of hearty topper served over a grain varietal.

Crock Spot, a food vendor on the summer market circuit (and now available for catering gigs and home delivery), first called our attention to this trend. For their part, owners Stephen Daniels and Mandy Birks have brought glory back to slow-cooking by offering customers bowls filled with grains and topped with protein (meat, as well as lentils) and sauce.

Then we noticed Green Fine Salad Co. add a warm food option to its salad-heavy menu. Each week the kitchen dreams up a warm, veggie-friendly dish. A couple weeks ago it was ratatouille (with chickpeas!) over white rice, finished with a dollop of sour cream-cucumber sauce, and served with an herbed crostini. This week the selection is Indian lentil curry over white rice, a red-pepper aïoli, and your choice of shrimp or tofu. The offerings are hearty, healthy, and satisfying—though we would like a brown rice option.

And just last month, at the newly remodeled Pearl Street Whole Foods Market in Boulder, we came across a savory parfait-to-go with quinoa on the bottom, black beans in the middle, and salsa on top.

Whether this is an emerging trend or simply a return to healthy eating, we applaud the efforts of all three businesses in making smart choices easier.

Green Fine Salad Co., 1137 16th St., 303-279-0173 and 110 16th St., 303-629-9127

Whole Foods Market, 2905 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-545-6611

Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.