Parisian Nites Cooking Class

Parisian Nites at Kings Cooking Studio

6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Join registered dietitian and chef Julie Harrington, for a full cooking class focused on Parisian cuisine.

On the menu:
– Smoked Salmon Blini Canapés
– Vegetable Tian
– Classic Sweet French Crepes
– Easy Bouillabaisse 
– Chocolate Orange French Madelines

Location:
Kings of Short Hills
778 Morris Turnpike
Short Hills, NJ 07078

Questions? Call 973-258-4009

Anything is Pastable Cooking Class

Anything in Pastable Cooking Class at Kings Cooking Studio

6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Join registered dietitian and chef Julie Harrington, for a full cooking class focused on delicious homemade pasta recipes.

On the menu:
– Classic Caesar Salad
– Homemade Sweet Potato Gnocchi
– Brown Butter Sage Sauce
– Mushroom Ravioli
– Cannoli Dip

Location:
Kings of Short Hills
778 Morris Turnpike
Short Hills, NJ 07078

Questions? Call 973-258-4009

Veggie-Packed Beef Lasagna

Lasagna is such an underrated dinner. Maybe, it is because when most people think of lasagna, the thought of having to assemble this meal detours many. Adding a little twist on a classic, try this Veggie-Packed Beef Lasagna.

This post is sponsored by the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative, a subcontractor to the Beef Checkoff. Thank you for supporting brands that make this blog possible!

What if I told you I could provide you with tips to make this meal both delicious and easy to prepare?

Lasagna is one of those recipes that can be made ahead, frozen for later, and a hearty meal that can help make weeknight meals a breeze. Also, depending on how you make this dish it can incorporate four of the five food groups all in one pan.

Dietitian Tip:  Aim to have at least 3 food groups featured for meals (making one of those a fruit or vegetable!)

Each food group has its own properties which can be beneficial for one’s health. Building colorful balanced plates can help maintain healthy eating patterns, providing essential vitamins and minerals to keep the body healthy. For example:

Grains: Grains have carbohydrates which provide our body with energy. Grains are divided into 2 subgroups: Whole Grains and Refined Grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel ― the bran, germ, and endosperm. Refined grains have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ. Aim to make half of your grains whole grains.

Protein: Is a building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.

Fruits: Contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which may also help to protect you from chronic diseases.

Vegetables: Eating vegetables that are of different colors will help to provide your body with important nutrients like fiber (can help you to feel fuller for longer), folate (beneficial for fetus growth during pregnancy),and vitamins A (aids in good vision) and C (aids in a strong immune system).

Dairy: Which has a strong association to improved bone health. 

Can beef fit onto a healthy plate?

When building a balanced plate, beef goes beyond just being a good source of protein.

Beef supplies 10 essential nutrients including:

  • Iron – helps your body use oxygen
  • Choline – supports nervous system development
  • Vitamins B6 & B12 – helps maintain brain function and gives energy
  • Phosphorus – helps build bones and teeth
  • Zinc – helps maintain a healthy immune system
  • Niacin – supports energy production and metabolism
  • Riboflavin – helps convert food into fuel
  • Selenium – helps protect cells from damage

One 3-ounce cooked serving of beef provides approximately 50% of your Daily Value (25 grams) of this important nutrient—making it an excellent source! Protein helps maintain a healthy weight, as well as preserve and build muscle.

New research suggests it’s not only important to just get enough protein in at dinner or lunch but to spread it throughout your day for optimal health. Aim for 25-30 grams of protein at each meal.

EASY, DELICIOUS, BEEF AND VEGETABLE, LASAGNA 

Does this lasagna recipe freeze well?

There is no reason to feel like you need to finish this meal in one night. This is a prime dish to freeze and heat back up on a future date. You may have already tried some of my other freezer friendly recipes like my Beef & Barley Soup, Freezer Oatmeal Cups, or Zucchini Carrot Fritters. Add this beef and vegetable lasagna to the list for nights when you have less time to prepare a meal for dinner.

How long can I freeze lasagna?

For the best results, freeze lasagna after it has been assembled but before it’s been baked. Freezing food this way will help maintain the lasagna’s cheese and noodle texture and prevent it from getting soggy.

If you’ve already baked your lasagna, don’t worry; it can still be frozen! The texture may be a little different than freshly baked.

If properly stored, it will maintain best quality for about 2 to 3 months but will remain safe beyond that time.

How do I reheat lasagna?

When you’re ready to use your frozen lasagna, transfer it to the refrigerator and let it defrost overnight. Then, take it out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes while your oven preheats to 375°.

Remove the lasagna’s freezer wrappings, cover the top with new foil and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until heated through (a thermometer inserted in the center should read 165°). Remove the foil and bake the lasagna for 10 more minutes or until browned on the top. Pull the lasagna from the oven and let it sit for another 10 minutes before slicing into it.

Why are Family Meals Important?

It is easy to get caught up in after school activities or with work assignments which can take away from sit down meals with the family. But family meals are important for a variety of reasons such as:

  • Regular family meals are linked to higher grades and self-esteem
  • Adults and children who eat at home more regularly are less likely to suffer from obesity
  • Family meals nourish the spirit, brain, and health of all family members.

Make it a Family Affair:

Another aspect that I love about this meal is that it is easy enough so that the whole family can participate in creating this dish.

This recipe is coming right in time to celebrate National Family Meals Month. This initiative is a nationwide event which encourages families to have at least one meal at home per week.

What if I have a picky eater?

No one wants to be a short order cook preparing separate meals for each family member. When introducing new foods or new recipes, start with what I like to call lateral shifts. Meaning, start with something they are familiar with – for instance traditional beef lasagna. Adding vegetables won’t drastically change the original, it just adds a new flair. Understanding your family’s preferences is also key. Knowing that if they see the vegetables is going to cause resistance, chop them finer or even puree them into the sauce. The more exposure to new lateral shift type meals, can be helpful.

What You will Need to Create this Veggie-Packed Beef Lasagna

For the filling:
93% lean ground beef
Olive oil
Yellow onion
Mushrooms
Salt
Zucchini
Baby spinach

For the tomato sauce:
Olive oil
Garlic
Crushed tomatoes
Fresh basil
Salt
Crushed red pepper flakes

Don’t feel like making your own sauce? No worries! Substitute with 2 cups of your favorite prepared marinara sauce.

Remaining ingredients:
Ricotta cheese
Parmesan cheese
Mozzarella cheese
Egg
Italian seasoning
Salt
Black pepper
No-boil lasagna noodles (see notes in the recipe)

How to make this Veggie-Packed Beef Lasagna

Preheat your oven and coat a deep baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook the ground beef, then remove from the pan. Using the same pan (because who wants to wash more dishes), cook the vegetables. Add beef back in and set aside.

Make the sauce by gently sautéing the garlic (we don’t want it to burn, then add the remaining sauce ingredients to simmer and allow flavors to develop.

Mix the ricotta cheese and some of the parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese. Add a beaten egg (this will help hold the cheese mixture together and not seep out of the lasagna). Season with Italian herbs, salt, and pepper.

To assemble, start with adding a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan. Then layer in the order, noodles, ricotta mixture, beef & veggie mixture, sauce, and sprinkle cheese. Top with more lasagna noodles and repeat.

Wrap in parchment paper and bake!

Recipe Shortcuts:

  • To cut down on prep time, buy pre-sliced mushrooms, & frozen diced onions, zucchini, and spinach. (Just be mindful when swapping out with frozen to drain excess liquid when cooking)
  • Skip making your own sauce and use your favorite jarred variety.
  • Freeze in individual servings for pre-portioned leftovers instead of defrosting the whole dish.
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Veggie-Packed Beef Lasagna

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: dinner
  • Method: bake
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

Lasagna is such an underrated dinner. Maybe, it is because when most people think of lasagna, the thought of having to assemble this meal detours many. Adding a little twist on a classic, try this Veggie-Packed Beef Lasagna.


Ingredients

Scale

For the filling:
1-pound 93% lean ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 (8 ounce) container sliced mushrooms
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup zucchini, chopped into a small dice
1 cup baby spinach, roughly chopped

Tomato sauce*:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 ounce) crushed tomatoes
¼ cup fresh basil, chiffonade (ribbon like slices) + additional for garnish
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, more or less as desired

Remaining ingredients:
2 cups (16 ounces) ricotta cheese
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, divided
2 cups freshly grated mozzarella cheese, divided
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
9 no-boil lasagna noodles*


Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a 9×13-inch deep baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add ground beef breaking apart into small crumbles. Cook until meat has browned, no longer pink, about 6-8 minutes. Remove beef from the pan, drain any excess fat from the beef and set beef aside.
  3. Return skillet to medium heat. Add olive oil. Sauté onions and mushrooms until tender. During the cooking process add salt to help draw out excess moisture. Once excess moisture has evaporated, add the zucchini, and continue to cook until tender. Add spinach and continue to cook until wilted and excess moisture has evaporated. Add beef back to the veggie mixture, stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a medium pot add olive oil over low heat. Sauté garlic for about 1 minute or until fragrant, being careful not to burn. Pour in the crushed tomatoes, basil, salt, and crushed red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer to allow the flavors to come together.
  5. In a medium bowl, add the ricotta, ¼ cup parmesan, 3/4 cup mozzarella, egg, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Mix well until combined.
  6. To assemble: Spread 1 cup of tomato sauce evenly over the bottom of a baking dish. Layer 3 lasagna noodles on top (snap off their ends to fit, and/or overlap their edges as necessary). Spread half of the ricotta cheese mixture evenly over the noodles. Top with half the beef & veggie mixture. Then spread 1 cup tomato sauce on top and sprinkle 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella and 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese. Top with 3 more lasagna noodles and repeat the previous order. Then top with remaining 3 lasagna noodles, remaining sauce and sprinkle remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese on top.
  7. Wrap a sheet of parchment paper or foil around the top of the lasagna (not letting it touch the cheese). Bake, covered, for 20 minutes, then remove the cover, rotate the pan by 180° and continue cooking for about 10 to 12 more minutes, until the cheese is melted and slightly bubbling on the sides.
  8. Remove from the oven and let the lasagna cool for 15 to 20 minutes, so it has time to set and cool down to a reasonable temperature. Sprinkle additional basil over the top, then slice and serve. Top with additional sauce or cheese, as desired.

Notes

  • Looking to save a step? Substitute the tomato sauce with 2 cups of prepared marinara sauce.
  • At the grocery store I see lasagna noodles as “no-boil” or “oven-ready” lasagna sheets. Read package directions as some brands need additional liquid.
  • Can’t find no boil or oven-ready lasagna noodles? Buy regular lasagna noodles, cook according to package directions, and use the same way. Cook time may decrease.

Keywords: lasagna, beef lasagna, family meal, dinner recipe, easy dinner

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Other recipes you will love:

References:
Paddon-Jones D, Rasmussen BB. Dietary protein recommendations and the prevention of sarcopenia. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 2009;12:86-90

Mamerow MM, et al. Dietary protein distribution positively influences 24-h muscle protein synthesis in healthy adults. J Nutr 2014;144:876-80

https://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/

https://www.nebpi.org/

Mediterranean Tuna Pasta Salad

Mediterranean Tuna Pasta Salad is a great party dish and is even better when it comes to meal prepping lunches! 

side view of tuna pasta salad in small white bowl

When it comes to using tuna in recipes, sometimes the easy ones can be boring, especially when it comes to making lunches. The Mediterranean flavors and pasta add a whole new dimension to tuna salad! 

Not only is tuna an excellent source of vitamin D and omega 3s but it’s also a lean meat that is packed full of protein. Adding in more protein keeps you fuller longer, leads to less snacking, and supports overall health. Because it is a lean meat, that means it’s lower in calories but has a high nutritional value.

In addition to all of these other nutrition benefits, a serving of tuna is a good source of selenium, iodine, B6, iron, and potassium. 

top shot of 2 bowls of mediterranean tuna pasta salad

Did you know that eating seafood twice a week could help to improve your omega-3 levels and reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease? Just a simple shift in your eating pattern can put you on a positive path to improve your heart health.

Another reason I love this recipe is that canned tuna is affordable and budget-friendly so you don’t have to break the bank to eat healthier in this case! Not to mention most of the ingredients you need are pantry staples, which means you probably already have them at home, win, win!

Wait! Isn’t Tuna Full of Mercury? 

Tuna fish does have a higher mercury content than others, but when you are using canned tuna, it’s less because they use smaller fish. Also, light tuna tends to contain less mercury than white tuna.

What’s the Difference Between White Tuna and Light Tuna?

White tuna is also known as albacore, whereas the term light tuna includes a variety of different species. 

Light tuna typically has more flavor, is flakier, and is pinker in color. Albacore is usually consumed in bigger chunks or steaks, compared to light tuna which is much smaller pieces and is normally what is found in canned tuna. 

tuna pasta salad in a mixing bowl next to wooden spoon

Ingredients Needed For Mediterranean Tuna Pasta Salad 

Pasta – I like using penne, fusilli, or bow ties

Canned tuna – try to find the kind that is packed in olive oil

Cucumber

Cherry tomatoes

Kalamata olives

Roasted red peppers

Marinated artichokes

Shallot

Feta cheese – you could also use another white cheese

Red wine vinegar

Oregano – Italian seasoning works well too! 

top shot of mediterranean tuna pasta salad in glass bowl before being mixed up

Why You Shouldn’t Drain the Canned Tuna

In most canned tuna recipes, they call for the tuna to be drained first. In this case, you DO NOT want to drain the tuna! Not only is the olive oil used for the dressing, but it also mixes with some of the tuna’s natural fat, so some of its omega-3 fatty acids (along with the nutrition) also go down the sink when you drain oil-packed tuna.

close up of Mediterranean tuna pasta salad with a scoop on a wooden spoon

How to Make Tuna Salad with Pasta 

Before we make the salad, start by cooking the pasta according to the instructions on the package. When it’s al dente, drain it and set aside. Be sure it has cooled completely before adding it to the other ingredients. 

In a large bowl combine the tuna, diced cucumbers and tomatoes, pitted olives, shallots, roasted red peppers, artichokes, cheese, red wine vinegar, cooled pasta, and oregano. 

Stir to combine, making sure the tuna is broken up and all of the ingredients are coated well.

Add some salt and pepper to taste, then you are ready to serve! 

tuna pasta salad in a white bowl with spoon

What Kind of Pasta is the Best for Tuna Salad 

As I mentioned before I like to use penne, fusilli, or bow ties. You can also use brands like Banza for added protein and as a gluten free option. If you prefer whole wheat, that’s fine too! 

How To Store 

Tuna pasta salad is the best when it is eaten within the first 2 days of cooking. However, as long as it is refrigerated in an airtight container it will last up to 5 days.

several bowls of tuna pasta salad next to tomatoes

Other Ways to Use Canned Tuna

  • As a spread on toast
  • Tuna patties
  • On a sandwich or wrap
  • In a quiche
  • Lettuce wraps
  • With crackers or veggies
  • In casseroles 
  • Tuna melts
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several bowls of tuna pasta salad next to tomatoes

Mediterranean Tuna Pasta Salad

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: side dish
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean

Description

Mediterranean Tuna Pasta Salad is a great party dish and is even better when it comes to meal prepping lunches! 


Ingredients

Scale

1/2 pound pasta (like penne, fusilli, bow ties)
2 (4.5 oz) cans tuna, packed in olive oil
1 cup English cucumber, peeled and diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted, halved
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, diced
1/2 cup marinated artichokes, quartered
1 tablespoon shallot, finely minced
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dried oregano (or Italian seasoning)
salt and pepper, to taste


Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Let cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, tuna, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, roasted red peppers, artichokes, shallot, feta cheese, red wine vinegar, and oregano. Toss to combine making sure the tuna is broken up and all ingredients are distributed throughout the mixture.
  3. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Notes

  • Can use alternative pasta choices like a bean-based pasta, whole grain pasta, or any pasta of choice.

Keywords: pasta salad, pasta, tuna, tuna salad, mediterranean

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Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with Streusel Topping

This ​​Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp is an easy fruit dessert that can be made year-round and what makes it even better is the oat streusel topping! 

strawberry rhubarb crisp on small white plate next to baking dish and whole strawberries

Normally we see fruit desserts throughout the spring and summer seasons, but Strawberry Rhubarb crisp can truly be made any time of the year! 

Both of these fruits are filled with antioxidants and packed full of vitamins and nutrients that have anti-inflammatory properties and have been shown to decrease risks of certain diseases. 

Did you know that frozen fruit is just as healthy as fresh? Fruits are picked and frozen at peak ripeness, and studies show that they retain a comparable vitamin, mineral, and phytochemical content to their fresh counterparts.

If you love recipes that have a crisp topping, don’t leave before you check out my Almond Pear Crisp for Two!

Crisp, Cobbler, Crumble: What’s the Difference?

Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably but there is actually a difference! All of these types of recipes usually contain fruit, but it’s the topping that makes the difference! 

A cobbler typically has a doughy, biscuit-like topping. When you think of cobblers you are probably thinking about your grandma’s traditional recipe that has been passed down for ages! 

Crumbles are more like a streusel topping, but they don’t contain any oats. 

If it’s a true crisp, it will definitely have oats in the topping! 

ingredients for strawberry rhubarb crisp

What You Need to Make Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with Streusel Topping


For the filling:

fresh strawberries

rhubarb 

granulated sugar – you can also swap this for coconut or maple sugar

cornstarch

lemon juice

salt

For the topping:

light brown sugar

old-fashioned rolled oats – Bob’s Red Mill is a great option! 

whole-wheat pastry flour

unsalted butter – be sure to set it out in time so it can soften up

How to Make a Crisp with Strawberries and Rhubarb 

Go ahead and preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray your baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. 

diced strawberries and rhubarb in a white mixing bowl

In a large mixing bowl, combine granulated sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, strawberries, rhubarb, and salt. Stir together then transfer the mixture to your baking dish. 

strawberry rhubarb mixture in baking dish before topping has been added

Now let’s make the streusel topping! 

In a medium bowl, add the oats, flour, brown sugar, and 4 tablespoons of butter. Stir it all together until it’s combined well. Add additional butter ( one to two tablespoons) if it seems too dry. 

top shot of streusel top in glass mixing bowl

Crumble the topping over the mixture into a baking dish. 

Bake until the top of the crisp is golden, which will take about 35 to 50 minutes. 

Once it has finished baking, let it cool on a wire rack before serving. 

You can serve it warm or at room temperature! 

close up of strawberry rhubarb crisp in white baking dish next to bowl of strawberries

What If I Don’t Have Whole Wheat Pastry Flour?

A nice substitute when you don’t have whole wheat pastry flour is a 1:1 ratio of all purpose flour and whole wheat flour. 

strawberry rhubarb crisp on small white plate next to fork and strawberries

Crisp Topping and Serving Suggestions

This strawberry rhubarb crisp is perfect just the way it is, but here are some great ideas for serving and other variations

  • Serve with a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream 
  • Add a dollop of my Homemade Coconut Whipped Cream
  • Sprinkle some nuts into the streusel topping for a nice crunch

Can This Recipe Be Made Vegan Friendly? 

Sure! To make this crisp vegan, simply use a plant based butter!

Need a Gluten Free Option?

If you want to make the topping using gluten free ingredients, make sure the oats are gluten free and swap the pastry flour or almond flour instead! 

strawberry rhubarb crisp after baking next to whole strawberries

Can You Use Frozen Strawberries and Rhubarb? 

If you want to make this fruit crisp and you don’t have a chance to grab fresh strawberries and rhubarb, or maybe they are out of season you can use frozen instead. 

Be sure that the fruit is thawed completely and drained so that the crisp does not come out soggy from the excess liquid.

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strawberry rhubarb crisp on small white plate next to fork and strawberries

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with Streusel Topping

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 40
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 6
  • Category: dessert
  • Method: bake

Description

This ​​Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp is an easy fruit dessert that can be made year round and what makes it even better is the oat streusel topping! 


Ingredients

For the filling:
3 cups quartered fresh strawberries
3 cups sliced fresh rhubarb or thawed frozen rhubarb*
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt

For the topping:
½ cup lightly packed light brown sugar
½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
⅓ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
4–6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened


Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat an 11-by-7-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine strawberries, rhubarb, granulated sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt, transfer to the prepared baking dish.
  3. To prepare topping: Combine brown sugar, oats, flour, and butter (starting with 4 tablespoons of butter) in a medium bowl; stir until thoroughly combined. If mixture seems to dry, add additional 1-2 tablespoons of butter. Crumble the topping evenly over the strawberry-rhubarb mixture.
  4. Bake the crisp until the topping is golden, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

  • If using frozen rhubarb or strawberries, thaw then be sure to drain any excess liquid.

Keywords: crisp, strawberry, rhubarb, summer dessert, dessert

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Beef Banh Mi

This Beef Banh Mi offers so many interesting flavors and textures in one bite. This recipe for a banh mi sandwich starts with a crusty roll that’s piled high with tender grilled beef, pickled vegetables, and fresh herbs.

Close up image of a Beef Banh Mi sandwich

This post is sponsored by the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative a subcontractor to the Beef Checkoff. Thank you for supporting brands that make this blog possible!

Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich that has depths of flavor. Banh Mi has its origins in French colonialism in Vietnam, with bread being brought into the country by the French. The Banh Mi became popular when it was sold on street corners as an inexpensive fast food option for workers who needed to eat on-the-go. It’s popularity has resurged recently with new versions of Banh Mi, using other proteins such as beef, shrimp, or tofu instead of pork, providing even more flavor options!

In culinary school, one of my practicals for my World Cuisine class I was assigned to Vietnam and had to make a dish highlighting the flavors of that cuisine. I went with a more traditional Banh Mi, using pork, daikon radish, shrimp paste, and making the bread from scratch!

I added my own twist to the classic, swapping out pork for beef while still maintaining the traditional Vietnamese flavors.

glass bowl with sliced radishes and shredded carrots

History of Vietnamese flavor profiles

Vietnamese cooking is all about balance. The five flavors of Vietnamese cuisine are sour, bitter, spicy, salty and sweet. Interestingly enough, recipes vary from region to region and city to city but share a common theme of contrasting flavors and textures.

The food of the north is heavily influenced by China. As you move south, there is more flavor-blending with Thailand and Cambodia. The tropical climate down south sustains rice paddies, coconut groves, jackfruit trees, and herb gardens. Southern Vietnamese food tends to be sweeter than northern Vietnamese food: sweeter broths for pho; use of palm sugar in savory dishes; and popular taffy-like coconut candies made with coconut cream are made from a mix with milk and sugar.

Beef Banh Mi sandwich on a wooden cutting board

Staple Ingredients of Vietnamese Cuisine

You may have some of these staple Vietnamese ingredients already in your pantry. Here are a few ingredients you will most likely find in any Vietnamese recipe.

  • Fish Sauce: Fish sauce is a condiment made by fermenting fish with salt. It has an intense, salty flavor which when combined with the sweetness of Vietnamese dishes help balance out flavors
  • Shrimp Paste: This potent paste is made from fermented shrimp or krill that has been mashed together with salt then dried to produce the salty, pungent paste.
  • Pickled Vegetables: Pickled vegetables are a staple in Vietnamese cuisine. Pickling is an ancient preservation technique that doesn’t require refrigeration and has been used for centuries across the world to preserve food.
  • Oyster Sauce: Oyster sauce is a condiment made from oysters that are cooked and mashed.
  • Sambal Oelek (chili paste): A chili paste usually consisting of chopped red chilies, garlic, shallots and vinegar. It’s used as a spicy flavoring for dishes such as satay or fried rice but it also makes an appearance in many Vietnamese recipes including Banh Mi!
  • Hoisin Sauce: Hoisin sauce is an Asian condiment made from soybeans, garlic and spices. The sauce provides sweet and salty flavors as well as some heat but not too much!
  • Cilantro: Cilantro is a herb that has a citrusy, peppery flavor. It’s often used in Vietnamese cuisine because it can be added to dishes without overpowering the other flavors.
  • Lemongrass: The herb is most commonly used to braise meats, often with fish sauce, sugar, and chilies. It adds lemony, bright, and citrusy notes.
Beef Banh Mi sandwich on a wooden cutting board

Ways to tenderize beef

Beef is a very hearty and rich meat with a natural taste of umami. It’s also popularly used in Vietnamese recipes. When using leaner cuts of beef, they contain less fat, so marinating the meat to maximize flavor and help tenderize the meat is key.

A marinade works by  breaking down the muscle fibers and helping to soften connective tissues. Some ingredients that are good for marinating beef include: soy sauce, ginger, garlic, vinegar or lime juice. This recipe uses Vietnamese flavor profile utilizing:

  • soy sauce
  • fish sauce
  • brown sugar
  • lemongrass
  • garlic
  • sesame oil
beef marinating in a glass bowl

Tips for marinades

  • You will need approximately 1/4 to 1/2 cup of marinade for every pound of beef
  • Always marinate in the refrigerator, not at room temperature
  • Before cooking, remove beef from marinade and pat dry with a paper towel to promote even browning and prevent steaming

Cooking Tips

For this Banh Mi recipe, follow these few tips listed within the recipe below.

  • To help easily slice the sirloin, place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Use a sharp knife and cut across the grain. Cutting across the grain means to slice perpendicular to the fibers, so the fibers in cut pieces of meat become much shorter, making it easier to chew them.
  • Use the white part of the lemon grass. Peel away the hard chewy parts, and mince the softer middle white part of the stem.
  • Utilize a peeler to create carrot ribbons or use a mandolin to create julienne slices.

While this recipe may look like a lot of mini recipes within one recipe, it’s worth it. You can thank me later as you are chowing down 😉

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Beef Banh Mi

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: sandwiches
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vietnamese

Description

Adding a twist to the classic Beef Banh Mi by swapping out pork for beef while still maintaining the traditional Vietnamese flavors.


Ingredients

Scale

For the pickled vegetables:
3/4 cup radish, thinly sliced
3/4 cup carrot, peeled and julienned
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the beef:
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons lemongrass, white parts only, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 lb. sirloin, thinly sliced

For the sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder

For the sandwiches:
1 French baguette, cut into 4 pieces, then split lengthwise, toasted if desired
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup English cucumber, thinly sliced


Instructions

  1. Combine carrots and radishes in a bowl; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt, until sugar dissolves. Pour over vegetables. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, lemongrass, garlic, sesame oil, and salt. Add the thinly sliced steak and coat with the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. In a large skillet, heat canola oil over medium heat. Add the marinated beef. Cook without stirring for 4 minutes. Give it a stir and continue to cook for 1 minute.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, hoisin sauce, and garlic powder.
  5. Spread mayo mixture on bottom half of the bread. Layer cucumbers, cilantro beef, then pickled veggies. Place on the top half and slice crosswise before serving.


Notes

  • Use a mandolin to help easily slice the radishes, carrots, and cucumber.
  • To easily slice beef into thin slices, place the sirloin in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before slicing, then slice across the grain.

Keywords: banh mi, sandwich, beef banh mi, beef recipe

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Chipotle Lime Shrimp Tacos with Creamy Avocado Broccoli Slaw

Get dinner on the table under 30 minutes! These Chipotle Lime Shrimp Tacos with a Creamy Avocado Broccoli Slaw is simple to make and you might already have all the ingredients already on hand!

The beauty of tacos is that they are easily customizable. Kick it up a notch and add more spices to the shrimp. Swap shrimp for cod. What I love about taco recipes is that they act more as a guide. You don’t need to follow them exactly. That is what’s fun about cooking, you get to be creative in the kitchen!

Chipotle Lime Shrimp Tacos with Creamy Avocado Broccoli Slaw on a white linen napkin
raw shrimp in a glass bowl with marinade ingredients

How to make Chipotle Lime Shrimp Tacos with Creamy Avocado Broccoli Slaw

Ingredients

  • Shrimp. I prefer using large or jumbo shrimp. Cut down on prep time by purchasing already peeled and deveined shrimp.
  • Olive oil. Olive oil or any neutral oil works.
  • Lime. The title of the recipe is lime tacos .. so ya know .. lime is needed here.
  • Chipotle seasoning blend. Take out the guess work and use a blend. The blend I used was a combo of: Sweet Chili Pepper, Chipotle Chili Pepper, Cayenne Pepper, Oregano, Cumin, Parsley, Mustard, Garlic, Onion, Carrot, Sugar, Citric Acid, Orange Peel, Lemon Peel, Oil Of Lemon & Lime.
  • Ground cumin. To add a warm, earthy flavor and aroma with a bit of both sweetness and bitterness.
  • Salt. To enhance the flavors!
  • Broccoli slaw mix. Cut down on prep time and use a slaw mix which is typically a mixture of shredded broccoli stalks with julienned carrots and a bit of purple cabbage. It can be purchased at almost any grocery store along with the bagged salads.
  • Scallions.
  • Plain yogurt. I used this in place of sour cream. Yogurt will add the same tanginess and creaminess needed for the slaw.
  • Avocado. Your avocado still hard as a rock? Place it in a brown paper bag with a banana overnight. The banana will ripen faster giving off ethylene gas in a closed space to help ripen the avocado faster.
  • Cilantro. Don’t go crazy picking off each individual leaf. The stems pack in a ton of flavor too!
  • Tortillas. Use flour or corn tortilla – whatever you like best!
broccoli slaw in a glass bowl with scallions, avocado, lime, yogurt, cilantro, black pepper, salt surrounding the bowl on a marble platter

Equipment

  • Large mixing bowls for both marinating the shrimp and mixing the broccoli slaw.
  • A microplane is needed to zest the lime.
  • A food processor or blender helps make the avocado yogurt mixture creamy, but it’s not needed. Use a potato masher to mash to desired consistency.
  • A grill or grill pan to cook the shrimp and give it a smokier flavor.
  • Wooden skewers will help to easily flip the shrimp as it cooks.
three shrimp tacos in flour tortillas garnished with yogurt and cilantro

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Rinse and pat the shrimp dry. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and lime juice. Sprinkle with the lime zest, chipotle seasoning, cumin, and salt. Toss to coat evenly. Cover in place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 20 minutes. Soak skewers in water as the shrimp marinades.
  2. In a bowl, combine the broccoli slaw and scallions. In a food processor, combine the yogurt, avocado, cilantro, lime juice, and zest. Pour over the slaw and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Heat a grill (or grill pan) to medium-high heat. Place the shrimp on the skewers and grill until shrimp turn pink, about 1-2 minutes per side. (Alternatively, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the shrimp to the hot pan and sauté, flipping occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through.)
  4. Assemble tacos by layering the broccoli slaw, shrimp, then toppings in the tortilla.

Cooking Tips

A general rule of thumb for marinades is needing approximately 1/4 to 1/2 cup of marinade for every pound of protein. Always marinate in the refrigerator, not at room temperature Before cooking, remove the protein from marinade and pat dry with a paper towel to promote even browning and prevent steaming

opened shrimp taco
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Chipotle Lime Shrimp Tacos with Creamy Avocado Broccoli Slaw

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 5
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Ingredients

Scale

For the shrimp:
1 pound large or jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed (fresh or frozen and thawed)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 lime, juiced and zested
1 teaspoon chipotle seasoning blend
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
Wooden skewers

For the broccoli slaw:
2 cups broccoli slaw mix
2 tablespoons scallions, thinly sliced
½ cup plain yogurt
1 avocado
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced and zested
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the tacos:
8 small flour or corn tortillas
Optional toppings: Cotija cheese, sour cream, cilantro, sliced avocado, lime wedges


Instructions

  1. Rinse and pat the shrimp dry. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and lime juice. Sprinkle with the lime zest, chipotle seasoning, cumin, and salt. Toss to coat evenly. Cover in place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 20 minutes. Soak skewers in water as the shrimp marinades.
  2. In a bowl, combine the broccoli slaw and scallions. In a food processor, combine the yogurt, avocado, cilantro, lime juice, and zest. Pour over the slaw and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Heat a grill (or grill pan) to medium-high heat. Place the shrimp on the skewers and grill until shrimp turn pink, about 1-2 minutes per side. (Alternatively, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the shrimp to the hot pan and sauté, flipping occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through.)
  4. Assemble tacos by layering the broccoli slaw, shrimp, then toppings in the tortilla.

Keywords: taco, shrimp tacos, heart healthy, taco Tuesday, healthy tacos

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FAQ

What if I don’t have a grill pan?
Alternatively, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the shrimp to the hot pan and sauté, flipping occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through.

What can I use in place of shrimp?
Any mild white flakey fish will do – cod, tilapia, halibut, grouper, etc.

Can I make the broccoli slaw from scratch?
Of course! Create a mixture of shredded broccoli stalks with julienned carrots and thinly sliced purple cabbage.

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Should You Rinse Quinoa Before Cooking?

Quinoa is a naturally gluten free grain packed with protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients. If you’re cooking quinoa for the first time, you might be wondering if it needs to be rinsed before cooking. If so, read on for all the details on how to do that correctly!

white, red, and black quinoa in a wooden bowl.

What is saponin?

Saponins, get their name because they lather up in water, like soap suds. The herb soapwort is one of the most concentrated sources of saponins and sometimes used to make a natural cleanser.

Saponin is a natural substance found on quinoa that can be removed by rinsing. Saponin has a subtle unpleasant bitter taste. By rinsing quinoa before cooking, it removes saponins, therefore removing the bitterness.

Are saponins safe?

Saponins are phytochemicals made by plants as a method of natural pest control. The bitter taste of these compounds makes the plant less palatable to birds, insects, and humans.

Rinsing quinoa just removes that bitterness, making quinoa more enjoyable.

plated meal with salmon and quinoa

Health benefits of quinoa

Pronounced KEEN-wah, quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain sufficient amounts of all nine essential amino acids.

One cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa, provides:

  • Protein: 8 grams
  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Manganese: 58% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA)
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDA
  • Phosphorus: 28% of the RDA
  • Folate: 19% of the RDA
  • Copper: 18% of the RDA
  • Iron: 15% of the RDA
  • Zinc: 13% of the RDA
  • Potassium 9% of the RDA

Fun fact: There are over 1,800 varieties of quinoa, but the three main types you’ll find in the grocery store are white, red, and black.

Resources:
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15117556/
https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/saponins
https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/10352/2

Mission for Nutrition

It’s a very important month for dietitians – It’s National Nutrition Month! Every month dietitians work hard in various settings to help educate how to make healthy eating taste delicious! March is a little extra special.

chef cutting an orange bell pepper on a cutting board

This post is sponsored by the Healthy Family Project in collaboration with Mission for Nutrition. Thank you for supporting brands that make this blog possible!

National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month® is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. During the month of March, everyone is invited to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits.

This year’s theme is Personalize Your Plate. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and health. We are all unique with different bodies, goals, backgrounds, and tastes! And a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist can tailor a healthful eating plan that is as special as you are.

Misson for Nutrition

As you may know, I am the host of Food Rx with the Healthy Family Project. Healthy Family Project is celebrating their third annual Misson for Nutrition, a month-long digital and shopper-focused program that highlights the importance and value of meal planning to make healthy choices with an element that gives back to Feeding America® food banks.

Each year, retail dietitians a kit with the tools to celebrate the month with shoppers in a big way. Want a sneak peek inside? I had fun unboxing the toolkit.

Retail dietitians using the hashtag #missionfornutrition or submitting their events to Healthy Family Project are entered to win a $1,000 continued education scholarship. Past winners have utilized the scholarship to attend retail dietitian-focused trade shows, workshops, and conferences. 

Mission for Nutrition Event Ideas:

  • Host a Facebook Live share a new recipe, nutrition tips, etc.
  • Take clients on a grocery store tour
  • Create a nutrition-focused contest
  • Start a food drive
  • Host a virtual nutrition education presentation
  • Host a virtual cooking class (see below how to get your class promoted!)

If you are a dietitian and have a virtual cooking class or demo coming up, please add your class to our lineup here! Healthy Family Project will be adding this calendar to our Mission for Nutrition homepage so that families can easily access it.

How to get involved in Mission for Nutrition

Join the March 11 #MissionforNutrition Twitter Party! At 4 pm ET on March 11, Healthy Family Project will be talking about all things meal prep, swapping recipes and hacks, and giving away prizes. Everyone is welcome to join and no RSVP is needed. Simply hop on the #MissionforNutrition hashtag and have fun! Follow Health Family Project on Twitter.

Culinary Nutrition Concierge Program

Culinary Nutrition Concierge Program at Kings Cooking Studio

12:00 pm – 3:00 pm

FREE EVENT

Stop by the Cooking Studio between 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm to connect with our House Chef/Registered Dietitian, Julie Harrington, to tap into fabulous nutrition information!

This complimentary demonstration event will educate store guests on:
– reading food labels
– managing food sensitivities
– speaking to kids about healthy food choices
– connections to our food systems
– PLUS any other questions you have!

Location:
Kings of Short Hills
778 Morris Turnpike
Short Hills, NJ 07078

Questions? Call 973-258-4009