Bahn Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich with French influence. Traditionally served on a baguette, spread with mayo and sometimes pate (those are the French parts), then topped with pork or other meats (I love to use leftover pork tenderloin), cucumber, jalapeno, cilantro, and pickled carrots and/or radish. It may be hard to imagine that all these varying flavors would come together in a harmonious whole, but trust me — they do!
And if you have the parts readied ahead of time, this can be an easy meal to put together quickly.
With so many parts, it’s also easy to customize for individual tastes and dietary needs. Let your guests assemble their own, and they can leave out or pile on ingredients as they like.
To make mine Paleo and grain/gluten-free, I like to use Romaine leaves as a wrap, instead of bread. I actually like it better that way, now! I spread the mayo first, to keep the meat juices away from the lettuce leaf. And I pile on a lot more cilantro than this picture shows.
The pickled carrots are super easy, and can be made a few hours or up to a few days ahead of time.
Pickled Carrots Recipe
1/4 cup rice vinegar*
2 Tablespoons sugar (organic, if possible)
pinch or two of salt
carrots, cut into matchsticks (how to), enough to fill a half-pint jar
*Rice vinegar is mild flavored. If subbing a stronger vinegar, put a tablespoon or so of water in the measuring cup before filling it up with vinegar.
Stir first three ingredients till solids are dissolved. Put cut-up carrots in a half-pint jar, pour mixture in, and let marinate for one hour at least, a few would be better.
Makes enough for two or three sandwiches.
For the meat, use any leftover cooked pork tenderloin, pork chops, steak, or chicken. Cut it into thin slices, then reheat ever-so-briefly in some simmering broth. If you don’t have broth, use water but add a bit of soy sauce or other Asian flavoring. You basically just need to dip the meat in the simmering broth, let it sit a few seconds, turn it over, then pull it out in a few more seconds. You want to warm it up without cooking it any further, so it stays tender.
Once the meat is warmed up, just lay all the ingredients out and let guests assemble their sandwiches or wraps to their liking.
This sort-of-Greek salad was inspired by a gyro wrap: it has all the contents of a gyro, minus the pita wrap, with a modified tzatziki dressing. Gyro is a Greek dish featuring meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie, and usually served wrapped in pita bread, with cucumber, tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce. Tzatziki is traditionally made using yogurt, cucumber, garlic, and dill, mint, or parsley. Sometimes they’re also served with french fries stuffed inside.
My salad is making no claims about being authentic to either a gyro or a Greek salad: just inspired by them.
While the dressing contains some dairy, the dish is completely gluten-free and grain-free, so it is “primal.” If you’re strict Paleo or Whole30, you could certainly substitute a non-dairy sour cream or yogurt.
In a real gyro, the meat is most often lamb, but can also be beef, pork, or chicken, and it’s carved off the rotisserie in thin slices. For my quick-and-easy version, I just use ground meat. (“Mince,” for the Aussies.) I use either pork breakfast sausage or seasoned ground beef — whichever I had on hand — but you could use ground lamb, turkey or chicken, too. If using a plain meat (not sausage), season it generously with oregano, as well as some onion and garlic. Fresh parsley if you have it. Maybe some paprika. Salt and pepper to taste.
Tzatziki salad dressing recipe
Makes one or two servings. Scale up as you wish.
2 T. finely diced cucumber
1/4 cup sour cream or whole-milk Greek yogurt
2 T. mayo (homemade if you have it)
1 t. garlic-infused olive oil
OR 1/2 clove garlic, microwaved for 30 seconds and minced fine)
3/4 t. dill (my preference, but you can use parsley or mint, or a combo)
pinch of coarse salt
Dice the cucumber to 1/4″ or smaller.
Spread it out on the cutting board. Sprinkle lightly with salt and let sit for at least 10 or 15 minutes. Press over it with paper towels a few times to remove most of the excess moisture. (Note: If you’ll be using all of the dressing right away, you may skip this step. It keeps the sauce from getting too watery in storage.)
Combine with all remaining ingredients, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Use immediately or store for up to two days. (Maybe more. It’s gone before then in my house.)
Other salad ingredients:
Romaine lettuce – chopped for salad, or use whole leaves as a wrap
ground beef or other meat of your choice, 2 – 4 oz. per person
chopped or very thinly sliced onion
Toss all ingredient except dressing; drizzle generously with dressing and serve.
This crustless quiche makes an easy primal/low-carb/gluten-free breakfast! It’s also a great way to use up leftover cooked meats and vegetables. And sneak some veggies into your diet. (It’s Paleo except for the sour cream/yogurt.)
It also reheats beautifully. One thing I don’t like about a lot of make-ahead-and-reheat egg dishes is they get kind of tough in the microwave. Not so with this recipe!
This recipe originally comes from Pinch of Yum, and it instantly became one of my favorite easy dips/sauces.
What makes it magic? It’s easy, it’s healthy, it’s versatile, it’s delicious!
Use it as a veggie or cracker dip. Smear it on just-cooked fish, chicken, or burgers. Use the thinner version to drizzle over fresh tomatoes, or roasted vegetables. I bet it would be amazing blended into twice-baked potatoes — or twice-baked cauliflower!
Yesterday morning, I was doing a writing exercise that asked me to think about painful places I don’t want to return to, and how that relates to my current writing. As I mulled over possibilities, one that came back to me was late 2009, when my dad was dying. At the same time, my mom was slipping deeper into the grip of Alzheimer’s, and our kids were either away at college or soon to be there.
So many exits, all at once. All that loss brought out something in me I hadn’t experienced since my teenage years: eating because I just wanted to stop hurting — even if it was just for 30 minutes.