Asian Meatloaf & Meatloaf Banh Mi Sandwiches

This is one of those dinners where the leftovers ended up being even better than the original dinner! Whenever I make meatloaf, I always make enough so that we have meatloaf sandwiches the next day. Bahn Mi sandwiches are a family favorite so I knew adding this meatloaf to the mix would be a hit. They all loved the meatloaf on its own, but the sandwiches got even more praise.

The meatloaf was inspired by my Asian Chicken Meatballs.  I thought if an Asian meatball is so tasty, why not meatloaf? I went with beef and pork for this to get the best flavor and texture. I like using organic grass fed ground sirloin for the beef. It is nice and lean and has great flavor without the fat. You don’t need a fattier meat for this because there are so many flavorful ingredients and it stays plenty moist from the added veggies. The hoisin glaze on top also adds great flavor!

Here are a  few tips I have learned along the way for meatloaf:

  1. You need plenty of salt. My rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon per pound of meat.
  2. Egg and bread crumb ratio to meat is also important. I like 1/3 cup bread crumbs and 1 large egg per pound of meat.
  3. Mix all of your ingredients before adding the meat. That way you are just combining the meat with all of the good stuff and it mixes more evenly without over working the meat. That is why my recipe has you whisking the wet ingredients/eggs together and mixing veggies/breadcrumbs together before adding the meat.
  4. Get some good disposable gloves for food handling and use them to mix with your hands! It is very difficult to mix a meatball or meatloaf together without using your hands…and handling raw meat is kinda gross.
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Mixture of breadcrumbs, milk, and sautéed veggies all ready for meat to be added. Eggs, plus other wet ingredients are also whisked together to pour over meat before mixing.

For the first night’s dinner I served the meatloaf with some green beans, baby bok choy, and jasmine rice.

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Asian Meatloaf

Makes 4 hearty servings with enough left over for 4 banh mi sandwiches

For a printable version of this recipe, click here

Ingredients For Meatloaf:

  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped small
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped small
  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, chopped small
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, grated or minced
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup whole milk or half and half
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp asian hot sauce (like Sriracha)
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef (I like to use organic, grass fed ground sirloin)
  • 1 lb lean ground pork
  • fresh ground pepper
  • Optional garnish: sesame seeds and chopped green onion

Ingredients for the Glaze:

Whisk all of the ingredients together and set aside to glaze meatloaf

  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • Asian hot sauce to taste (I use a couple teaspoons)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, red bell pepper, and shiitake mushrooms and cook until tender. Add the garlic and ginger and cook a couple more minutes being careful not to burn garlic. Remove from heat and add the chopped green onion (reserving some to garnish later) and the chopped cilantro. Let the mixture cool.
  3. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the sesame oil, hoisin, hot sauce, soy sauce, and salt. Whisk together until combined.
  4. In a large bowl, add the panko bread crumbs and milk and mix well to soften the bread crumbs. The milk should be completely absorbed by the bread crumbs.
  5. Add the cooked and cooled vegetables to the bread crumbs and mix well. Add all of the meat, the wet ingredients, and plenty of fresh ground pepper. Mix everything together with your hands (I like to use gloves!). Try to mix without squishing the meat together. You don’t want to compact it too much.
  6. Line a baking sheet with foil and form the meat mixture into a loaf. Top with half of the glaze. Bake for 1 hour 15 min to 1 hour 30 min. You want the internal temperature to reach 160 degrees. About 15 min before the meatloaf is done, top with the rest of the glaze and finish cooking.
  7. Let the meatloaf rest for about 15 minutes before slicing. Garnish with chopped green onion and sesame seeds.

 

Dinner number 2: Banh Mi Meatloaf Sandwiches…

Or as my 11 year old likes to call them – Banh Meatloaf Sandwiches  🙂

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Banh Mi are deliciously flavorful Vietnamese sandwiches that are made with grilled chicken or pork, pickled veggies, and good crusty bread. They are garnished with onions, cilantro, and sliced jalapeños. Sometimes you will see them on trendy restaurant menus with tofu (which is yummy!) or pork belly (even more yummy!). The key is the pickled veggies. You just need a little extra time in advance to make the quick pickled carrots and daikon radish ahead so that they can soak up some of that vinegar-y goodness in the fridge for about an hour (longer is even better).

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Pickled carrots and daikon radish

This sandwich is a serious flavor party. I’m actually sort of drooling over my own photo as I type…and I just ate these yesterday. You may want to make this meatloaf just for this purpose.

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Here is my version of a Banh Meatloaf Sandwich:

  1. Make some quick pickled carrots and daikon – Mix 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar with 1 cup water, 1 tbsp kosher salt, and 2 tbsp sugar in a mason jar or glass bowl. Add 1 large carrot cut into matchsticks (or packaged, shredded carrots) and 1 medium daikon radish cut into matchsticks. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to a week.
  2. Use good crusty rolls or cut up a baguette into sandwich size pieces (one baguette will make 3 good size sandwiches). Toast for a few minutes in your oven or toaster oven. Slice through the bread part of the way through so that the halves are still connected and tear out a little of the inside of the bread so that you have plenty of room for filling.
  3. Spread some Sriracha mayo on both sides of the bread (good mayo mixed with Sriracha to taste).
  4. Give your slice of meatloaf a quick sear in a hot oiled pan. Add it to the sandwich along with sliced cucumber, your pickled carrot/daikon, chopped green onion, sliced jalapeños, and some cilantro sprigs.

Sandwich perfection!

 

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Kicked Up Tomato Soup and Killer Paninis!

A slightly more grown up version of the classic combo…

My family loves tomato soup and grilled cheese. I love that it is an easy week night dinner that everyone will eat. I also love how warm and cozy a simple meal like this can be on a cold day. I’m sure you probably have a stand-by tomato soup recipe already, but this one may become your favorite.

I decided to try adding sun dried tomatoes to it this time to boost the tomato flavor. I also added 2 whole heads of roasted garlic. It really added a lot of flavor without making it taste to garlicky. I love the way roasting garlic mellows the flavor and allows you to use so much more of it without being overpowering.

The other key to great tomato flavor is to use good canned tomatoes. I love San Marzano tomatoes from Italy and they are available at most well stocked grocery stores. I use whole tomatoes since they will be pureed anyway.

I also like to buy concentrated tomato paste. It is sold in a tube near the canned tomatoes. It’s perfect to have on hand when you only want a little bit of tomato paste and not a whole can. It’s also concentrated so you don’t need much.

An immersion blender makes quick work of pureeing this soup. If you don’t have one, just do it in a regular blender in batches.

As for the panini, I went with a combo of goat cheese and mozzarella, prosciutto, roasted red pepper, and arugula. It was DELISH! I used focaccia and drizzled a little aged balsamic vinegar over the arugula before putting it in the panani press.

If you don’t have a panini press, you could do this on a grill pan or in a regular pan too. You will still get a very tasty grilled cheese! I actually don’t own a panini maker, but I do have a George Foreman grill (don’t laugh!!), and it works great for making paninis. 

For the soup, you just need a little extra time in advance to roast the garlic. I do mine in the toaster oven in a ramekin. It is really simple…just cut the top (about 1/4 to 1/2 inch) of the head of garlic off, drizzle with a little olive oil, then roast at 400 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes or until it is very soft. You could also use a muffin tin or just wrap the whole head in foil. Once it is done, let it cool enough so you can handle it, then you can squeeze the roasted cloves out or use a small fork to pull them out. You may even want to roast an extra head to spread on your sandwich!

Sun Dried Tomato Basil Soup with Roasted Garlic

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced small
  • 2 heads roasted garlic, cloves removed
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, chopped (blot excess oil on a paper towel)
  • 1  (28 ounce) can of good Italian plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 large bunch of fresh basil (about a cup), chopped, plus some thinly sliced basil for garnish
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat and saute the chopped onion and carrots for about 10 minutes. Add all of the roasted garlic, the whole can of tomatoes (don’t drain) and the  sun dried tomatoes, the tomato paste, the chicken broth, and the chopped basil. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender. Puree soup with an immersion blender or you can do it in batches in a regular blender.  Add the cream and heat for a few more minutes. Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if it needs it. Serve with more basil on top.

Paninis with Prosciutto, Goat Cheese, Roasted Red Pepper & Arugula

Ingredients:

  • Focaccia or Ciabatta bread, sliced for 4 sandwiches
  • 4 slices of prosciutto
  • 4 slices of mozzarella
  • 4 ounces of goat cheese
  • 1 jar of roasted red pepper, drained and blotted dry with paper towels
  • 1 bag of washed baby arugula
  • good olive oil
  • aged balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper

These are very simple…start by spreading some of the goat cheese on 1 half of the bread. Add the slice of prosciutto, some of the roasted red pepper, and a small pile of arugula leaves. Drizzle about a teaspoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of balsamic over the arugula and season with salt and pepper. Put the slice of mozzarella on the on top and finish with the other half of bread. Brush the outside of the sandwich with olive oil and cook in a panini press according for about 5 to 10 minutes (time will vary depending on your panini maker).


No Cook Dinner

Smoked Salmon Pitas

It has been HOT and muggy here in Orange County. It’s always right about now that I really start to crave fall weather. I love cooking (and eating)  soups, stews, and chiles all throughout fall and winter. One pot meals are my favorite! But alas…the forecast tells me that it will be in the 80’s and 90’s for the next few days :(. I will patiently wait for fall weather, and in the meantime make a few more warm weather meals like this one.

I made some tzatziki and hummus, but you could buy those at the market if you want to get this on the table even quicker. If you want to make them from scratch (home made ALWAYS tastes better than the store bought stuff), you can use this recipe for hummus. For the tzatziki, I use this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa. The only changes I make to her tzatziki is that I don’t use the sour cream…I don’t think it really needs it, and I don’t bother to strain the yogurt. 

If you are not a fan of smoked salmon, you could substitute some good roast chicken breast from the deli. If you do use smoked salmon or lox, try to find wild salmon. It really does taste better than farm raised salmon.

I love that this dinner doesn’t involve using the stove or the oven!

I used pitas, but this would be great in a wrap also. I always have a jar of roasted red peppers in my pantry. They are great to dress up a sandwich. The capers and olive tapenade are delicious additions too.

Smoked Salmon Pitas

  • Pita Bread, Lavosh, or Wraps
  • Smoked Wild Salmon
  • Tzatziki Sauce
  • Hummus
  • Lettuce or spinach
  • Optional Additions: Capers, Olive Tapenade, Roasted Red Peppers
  • Lemon Wedges for garnish

Arrange all of your ingredients on a platter. Toast your pitas if desired. Let family (or friends) stuff their own pitas according to their taste.


Caprese Sandwich

Max is picky when it comes to sandwiches which requires some creativity for his school lunches. He has no interest in PB & J and he doesn’t do deli type sandwich meat unless it is prosciutto or good salami. I know…a food snob at the age of 8. He really prefers a vegetarian sandwich and this one is his favorite.

You need some sliced tomato, sliced fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced fresh basil, a little olive oil (he likes Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic Olive Oil), a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar, Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Oh…and some good crusty bread.

Just layer the cheese, tomatoes, and basil on your bread (I use par-baked ciabatta rolls from La Brea that I bake in the oven for about 5 minutes to crisp up). Then drizzle with about 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. Top with salt and pepper.