Perfect Spinach Salad

This classy spinach salad is a salad to impress! Smoky pecans and a creamy balsamic vinaigrette make the best counterpoint to this leafy green. Here’s a salad to impress. It’s everything a classy spinach salad should be, full of texture and flavor contrasts. You’ll barely notice you’re eating this healthy leafy green when it’s covered tangy balsamic vinaigrette. There’s crunchy smoky pecans, almost bacon-like glazed with maple syrup and soy sauce. Add hard boiled eggs or a crisp-tart apple, and you’ve got a stunning side salad that will make everyone ooo and ahhh. (It happens every time we serve it…really.) It’s almost like the little black dress of salads: it’s brilliant for any occasion. Ingredients in the best spinach salad You may notice this salad has a vague retro vibe. In fact, it’s a spin on my Grandma’s 1970’s spinach salad…with a few tweaks! For the dressing we went with a classic balsamic vinaigrette, which complements the flavors perfectly. Instead of bacon, smoky glazed pecans create the illusion of meat but make the salad vegetarian. (For a fully plant based salad, we’ve got options too!) Here’s what you’ll need for this classic spinach salad: Hard boiled eggs or apple: Hard […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

This classy spinach salad is a salad to impress! Smoky pecans and a creamy balsamic vinaigrette make the best counterpoint to this leafy green.

Spinach salad

Here’s a salad to impress. It’s everything a classy spinach salad should be, full of texture and flavor contrasts. You’ll barely notice you’re eating this healthy leafy green when it’s covered tangy balsamic vinaigrette. There’s crunchy smoky pecans, almost bacon-like glazed with maple syrup and soy sauce. Add hard boiled eggs or a crisp-tart apple, and you’ve got a stunning side salad that will make everyone ooo and ahhh. (It happens every time we serve it…really.) It’s almost like the little black dress of salads: it’s brilliant for any occasion.

Ingredients in the best spinach salad

You may notice this salad has a vague retro vibe. In fact, it’s a spin on my Grandma’s 1970’s spinach salad…with a few tweaks! For the dressing we went with a classic balsamic vinaigrette, which complements the flavors perfectly. Instead of bacon, smoky glazed pecans create the illusion of meat but make the salad vegetarian. (For a fully plant based salad, we’ve got options too!) Here’s what you’ll need for this classic spinach salad:

  • Hard boiled eggs or apple: Hard boiled eggs require forethought, so to whip this up in a flash substitute a crisp-tart apple. It’s just as good!
  • Smoky pecans: The secret to bacon flavor without meat! Glaze whole pecans in a mixture of soy sauce, maple syrup and smoked paprika.
  • Spinach: Baby spinach is more tender with a sweeter flavor; or, use chopped standard spinach.
  • Shallot: Thinly sliced shallot is the best trick for green salads. Its delicate oniony flavor is gentler than red onion.
  • Feta (optional): A sprinkle of feta cheese looks like confetti and brings a salty pop.
  • Balsamic vinaigrette: Tie it all together with this incredible homemade dressing.
Spinach salad

How to make smoky pecans (or use plain!)

One of the best parts of this salad is the pecans masquerading as bacon. Of course, if you’re running short on time: you can skip this step and just use plain pecans! But to make a truly magnificent spinach salad, it’s worth the time. Here are a few notes about the process:

  • You’ll need a skillet and 6 to 8 minutes. This is the time it takes to heat the glaze to cover the nuts.
  • They may come out soft or crunchy: either works! Making glazed nuts requires hitting the perfect sugar caramelization step to get them to dry into a crunchy glaze. If they come out soft: that’s ok! In fact, they taste more like bacon that way.

The best spinach salad dressing

What’s the best dressing for a spinach salad? Balsamic vinaigrette. Why? Spinach can have a bitter flavor undertone, so the tangy and subtly sweet notes of the dressing are the perfect pairing. Our favorite balsamic vinaigrette is very easy to whip up at home. All you need is 4 ingredients:

  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Maple syrup
  • Olive oil

The only other thing to note is to add the olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time and whisk vigorously. This is the key to getting a perfectly creamy emulsion. The Djion mustard also helps to make a fantastically creamy texture.

Balsamic vinaigrette recipe

Using hard boiled eggs in salad

This spinach salad is absolutely classic with hard boiled eggs, as it harkens back to that 1970’s bacon and egg salad. And, they add a great amount of protein! One egg has 7 grams of protein. This is specifically helpful when you are looking for a side dish with protein to round out a vegetarian dinner.

If you can, make up a batch of hard boiled eggs in advance. This makes the salad quicker to put together. Store the hard boiled eggs refrigerated with the shell on (this keeps them fresher).

Apple makes this spinach salad quick and easy (and vegan)

Often we don’t think ahead enough to have time for hard boiled eggs. So if we’re serving this for an easy weeknight meal side dish, we like to use an apple instead! Using a crisp-tart apple makes a great flavor and texture contrast and fills out the salad. Of course, it doesn’t have the protein that a hard boiled egg does. But it’s a great stand-in! Of course, you can also add apple to salad with the eggs: even better!

You can also use this as a vegan variation. Use a crisp tart apple and omit the feta cheese crumbles: or use a dairy free cheese crumble of your choice.

Best spinach salad

Other adders to this salad!

Here are a few more ingredients you could add to this salad that make it incredible tasty:

  • Mushrooms: Thinly sliced raw mushrooms are common in a classic spinach salad. Add these if you like!
  • Bacon: Can’t live without actual bacon? Swap the smoky pecans for bacon.
  • Prosciutto: Cured ham like prosciutto or jamón serrano would also work well.
  • Croutons: Try these Homemade Garlic Croutons.

Ways to serve this spinach salad

There are so many ways to pair this spinach salad! In fact, it’s one of the most versatile green salad recipes we have. Use it to round out a vegetarian dinner, or it pairs well with seafood and chicken. Here are our top ways to serve it:

Spinach salad

A few more spinach salads

Love spinach salad? Us too. Here are a few more variations on this easy side dish for all the seasons:

This spinach salad recipe is…

Vegetarian, dairy-free, and gluten-free. For vegan and plant-based, use the variations listed above.

Print
Spinach salad

Perfect Spinach Salad (No, Really)


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This classy spinach salad is a salad to impress! Smoky pecans and a creamy balsamic vinaigrette make the best counterpoint to this green.


Ingredients

  • 2 hard boiled eggs or 1 large crisp tart apple
  • 1/2 cup whole pecans*
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari or coconut aminos)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup or sugar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 pinches kosher salt or flaky sea salt
  • 1 recipe Best Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 6 cups baby spinach leaves or chopped standard spinach
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles (optional)

Instructions

  1. Make the hard boiled eggs: Make the hard boiled eggs, if using (or make them in advance). Chop them into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Make the smoky pecans: Add the pecans, soy sauce, maple syrup and smoked paprika to a small non-stick skillet over medium heat. When it just starts to bubble, reduce the heat to low but still slowly bubbling. Simmer 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the last minute when the liquid is mostly evaporated, stir continuously until it is totally cooked out and the nuts start clumping together. Immediately remove from the heat and transfer the pecans to a sheet of parchment paper in a single layer. Sprinkle with 2 pinches kosher salt and allow to cool to room temperature, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Make the dressing: Make the Balsamic Vinaigrette
  4. Prep the fresh ingredients: Thinly slice the shallot. If using apple instead of hard boiled egg, thinly slice the apple. 
  5. Serve: Place the spinach on plates or in bowls. Top with hard boiled eggs or apple slices, smoky pecans, sliced shallot, and feta cheese crumbles.

Notes

*You can also use plain pecans and skip the soy sauce, maple syrup, and smoked paprika. Or, you can make maple glazed pecans.

  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Spinach salad

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds (with 3 Recipes!)

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds (with 3 Recipes!)
If you’re carving pumpkins, save those seeds that get scraped out and make these delicious crunchy roasted pumpkin seeds. This is an easy, basic method with three seasoning recipes included… use any of the…

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds (with 3 Recipes!)

If you're carving pumpkins, save those seeds that get scraped out and make these delicious crunchy roasted pumpkin seeds. This is an easy, basic method with three seasoning recipes included... use any of them of your favorite combination of spices! An awesome fall treat!

READ: How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds (with 3 Recipes!)

Slow Cooker Hamburger Stew

Y’all. I am SO ready for sweater weather and cozy slow cooker stews! To kick the season off, I made this super simple Slow Cooker Hamburger Stew this week. It’s nothing fancy, it’s just simple, good, comforting food! I love the simplicity of this dish and the flexibility. It’s the perfect thing to have simmering […]

The post Slow Cooker Hamburger Stew appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Y’all. I am SO ready for sweater weather and cozy slow cooker stews! To kick the season off, I made this super simple Slow Cooker Hamburger Stew this week. It’s nothing fancy, it’s just simple, good, comforting food! I love the simplicity of this dish and the flexibility. It’s the perfect thing to have simmering away on the weekend as you do your chores or relax and enjoy watching the changing of the seasons. :)

Overhead view of a bowl of slow cooker hamburger stew with bread on the side

What’s in Hamburger Stew?

Hamburger stew is very similar to traditional beef stew, but it’s made with ground beef instead of stew meat. Using ground beef is a little bit less expensive than using stew meat, and I like how you get a little bit of beef in every bite! 

In addition to the beef we have a medley of fresh vegetables (carrots, onions, potatoes, peas), beef broth, herbs and spices, plus a little Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce to zhuzh it up a bit. It’s incredibly simple, but creates that beautifully subtle slow stewed flavor.

Why Brown The Hamburger First?

For this Hamburger Stew I browned the ground beef in a skillet before adding it to the slow cooker. I did this for two reasons. One, to render off some of the fat. I used 15% fat ground beef and there was quite a bit that needed to be drained away (I actually tested this recipe once without draining the fat and it just ended up far too oily). The second reason is that you get a nice browning (maillard reaction) on the beef in the dry environment of a skillet that you do not get in the wet environment of a slow cooker. So you’ll get just a little bit more flavor with this extra step!

Can I Use Different Vegetables?

Yes! Stews are very flexible. If you don’t like one of the vegetables listed, go ahead and skip it. Just keep in mind that the potatoes do help thicken the stew, so if you skip the potatoes you’ll have more of a soup texture. Other great vegetables to use in beef stew include:

  • mushrooms
  • pearl onions
  • parsnips
  • turnips
  • rutabagas
  • sweet potatoes
  • winter squash (acorn, butternut, pumpkin)

What Are Stewed Tomatoes?

This recipe calls for stewed tomatoes, which are a variety of canned tomatoes that are popular in the U.S. (example: Hunts stewed tomatoes). These tomatoes are cooked with seasonings and a little bit of sugar to give them the slightest sweetness. Stewed tomatoes add a little extra special unique flavor to the broth of this stew. While you can use diced tomatoes if stewed tomatoes are not available, this substitution will slightly change the flavor of the stew.

How Long Is Hamburger Stew Good?

After cooking the hamburger stew, I suggest dividing it into single portions (so that it cools faster) and refrigerating it right away. It will stay good in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, or it can be transferred to the freezer for longer storage (about 3 months). This stew is a great item to have stashed in your freezer for busy nights! It can be reheated quickly in the microwave, or slowly over medium-low heat in a pot on the stove.

Slow cooker hamburger stew in a ladle over the slow cooker

 
Overhead view of a bowl full of slow cooker hamburger stew with bread and a spoon on the side

Slow Cooker Hamburger Stew

This super easy Slow Cooker Hamburger Stew is simple, comforting food at its best. And the leftovers are even better the next day!
Total Cost $9.88 recipe / $1.65 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Servings 6 1.5 cups each
Calories 348.27kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. russet potatoes $1.20
  • 1/2 lb. carrots (about 4 carrots) $0.45
  • 1 yellow onion 0.32
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary $0.05
  • ½ tsp dried thyme $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper $0.02
  • 1 lb. ground beef $5.69
  • 1 15oz. can stewed tomatoes $1.00
  • 2 cups beef broth $0.26
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce $0.02
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce $0.06
  • 1 cup frozen peas $0.60

Instructions

  • Peel and dice the potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Peel and slice the carrots. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and pepper to a slow cooker (4 quarts or larger).
  • Brown the ground beef in a skillet, then drain off the excess fat. Add the browned and drained beef to the slow cooker along with the can of stewed tomatoes (with juices). Finally, add the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce to the slow cooker.
  • Give the contents of the slow cooker a brief stir to make sure everything is evenly combined (the broth may not fully cover the other ingredients). Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours, or low for eight hours.
  • After cooking on high for four hours or low for eight hours, remove the lid and stir the stew. Use the back of a spoon to slightly mash some of the potatoes, which will help thicken the stew.
  • Add the frozen peas (no need to thaw) and stir to combine into the stew. Taste the stew and add extra salt if needed (I did not add any, this will depend on the salt content of your beef broth). Serve hot with bread for dipping!

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 348.27kcal | Carbohydrates: 41.42g | Protein: 20.15g | Fat: 11.83g | Sodium: 751.72mg | Fiber: 5.07g

Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Try These Other Stew Recipes:

Front view of Hamburger Stew in the slow cooker

How to Make Slow Cooker Hamburger Stew – Step by Step Photos

Vegetables herbs and spices in the slow cooker

Peel and dice 2 lbs. of potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Peel and slice ½ lb. carrots (about 4 carrots). Dice one onion and mince two cloves of garlic. Add the potatoes, carrots, onion, and garlic to a slow cooker along with ½ tsp dried rosemary, ½ tsp dried tyme, and ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper.

Browned ground beef and stewed tomatoes added to slow cooker

Brown one pound of ground beef and drain off the excess fat. Add the browned ground beef to the slow cooker along with one 15oz. can of stewed tomatoes (with the juices).

Beef broth Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce added to slow cooker

Add 2 cups beef broth, 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, and 1 Tbsp soy sauce to the slow cooker.

Slow cooker ready to be turned on

Give the contents of the slow cooker a brief stir to combine. The broth will not fully cover the meat and vegetables, but that’s okay. The vegetables will release more moisture and increase the broth as they cook. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours or low for eight hours.

Cooked hamburger stew in the slow cooker

After cooking on high for four hours or low for eight hours, it will look like this. Give it a good stir and smash some of the potatoes against the side of the slow cooker. The smashed potatoes will help thicken the broth into a nice hearty stew.

Frozen peas being added to the slow cooker

Stir one cup of frozen peas into the slow cooker (they’ll thaw and heat within a minute or so). 

Finished slow cooker hamburger stew in the slow cooker

Give the hamburger stew a final taste and adjust the salt to your liking. I didn’t need to add any because the broth I use (Better than Bouillon) has a decent amount, but if your broth has less sodium you may find that a pinch of salt at the end helps the flavors pop!

Slow Cooker Hamburger stew in a bowl with a spoon lifting a bite

Serve the hamburger stew immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat (but I don’t know how you’ll resist having a bowl after smelling that cooking all day!).

The post Slow Cooker Hamburger Stew appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Sesame Ginger Carrot Salad

This bright and colorful Sesame Ginger Carrot Salad is fresh, full of flavor, and a great side dish for any meal. It only takes 15 minutes to make! This Sesame Ginger Carrot Salad might be one of my favorite salads. My friend Catherine made it for a ge…

This bright and colorful Sesame Ginger Carrot Salad is fresh, full of flavor, and a great side dish for any meal. It only takes 15 minutes to make! This Sesame Ginger Carrot Salad might be one of my favorite salads. My friend Catherine made it for a get together awhile ago and I fell in…

The post Sesame Ginger Carrot Salad appeared first on Two Peas & Their Pod.

Sesame Ginger Dressing

This Sesame Ginger Dressing is probably one of the most addictive homemade dressings I’ve ever made. It’s sweet, salty, tangy, and has a super “zingy” fresh ginger bite. It’s one of those dressings that you’ll just want to keep dipping your spoon into. The type of dressing that will make you want to eat a […]

The post Sesame Ginger Dressing appeared first on Budget Bytes.

This Sesame Ginger Dressing is probably one of the most addictive homemade dressings I’ve ever made. It’s sweet, salty, tangy, and has a super “zingy” fresh ginger bite. It’s one of those dressings that you’ll just want to keep dipping your spoon into. The type of dressing that will make you want to eat a salad just to serve as a vehicle for the delicious dressing (that’s not exactly a bad thing). But, if you’re like me, you’ll probably just end up drizzling it over everything!

Originally posted 2-5-2012, updated 7-23-2020.

Sesame ginger dressing in a wooden bowl, garnished with sesame seeds, a spoon in the middle of the bowl.

What is Tahini?

Tahini is a paste made out of ground sesame seeds. Think of it like peanut butter, but made with sesame seeds instead of peanuts! It’s one of the base ingredients for this dressing and can not be substituted in this recipe. The tahini not only adds sesame flavor to the recipe, but it also helps thicken the dressing. You can usually find tahini in the grocery store either near the peanut butter, or near the middle-eastern ingredients in the international aisle. 

Can I Substitute the Rice Vinegar?

I don’t suggest substituting the rice vinegar in this recipe. Rice vinegar has a uniquely mild flavor and acidity compared to other vinegars, which keeps it from overpowering the other flavors. While you might be able to use another type of vinegar, you’d probably also need to adjust the amount or the ratio of other ingredients to compensate for the increased acidity. 

How Long Does This Sesame Ginger Dressing Last?

Because this dressing uses fresh ginger and garlic, I suggest keeping it stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. But it tastes so good that hopefully you’ll finish it off before then!

How to Use Sesame Ginger Dressing

This dressing goes great over crunchy salads, like my Crunchy Cabbage Salad, but it can also be poured over cold noodle salads, used to dip egg rolls or dumplings, or poured over rice bowls. The sky’s the limit and I’m sure once you’ll taste it you’ll want it on everything!

Sesame ginger dressing being poured over crunchy cabbage salad from a mason jar

 
A wooden bowl filled with sesame ginger dressing next to a knob of fresh ginger

Sesame Ginger Dressing

This homemade sesame ginger dressing will drench your favorite salad with a sweet, salty, and nutty flavor, and a fresh gingery bite!
Total Cost $2.03 recipe / $0.20 sesrving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 10 2 Tbsp each
Calories 132.33kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger $0.30
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil* $0.32
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar $0.53
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce $0.12
  • 3 Tbsp honey $0.36
  • 1 Tbsp tahini $0.19
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil $0.05

Instructions

  • Mince the garlic and grate the ginger (I use a small-holed cheese grater)
  • Add the minced garlic, grated ginger, oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey, tahini, and toasted sesame oil to a blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Serve over salad or as a dipping sauce.

Notes

*Any neutral-flavored salad oil, like peanut, canola, safflower, grapeseed, or sesame (untoasted) will work fine for this dressing.
If your dressing is too thick for pouring, simply stir in a tablespoon or two of water to loosen it up.

Nutrition

Serving: 2Tbsp | Calories: 132.33kcal | Carbohydrates: 5.98g | Protein: 0.59g | Fat: 12.27g | Sodium: 177.95mg | Fiber: 0.2g

How to Make Sesame Ginger Dressing – Step by Step Photos

garlic press with two cloves of garlic, and fresh ginger with a microplane

Begin by mincing two cloves of garlic and grating about 1 Tbsp of fresh ginger. I like to use my garlic press to easily mince the garlic and a small-holed cheese grater to easily grate the ginger. Ginger grates easier if it’s frozen (the little hairs don’t clog the grater). I don’t even bother peeling it, I just make sure the peel is very clean.

minced garlic and grated ginger

And that’s what it looks like once the garlic is minced and ginger grated (for everyone who is visual, like me).

Rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, and tahini

Here are three of the most important ingredients in this dressing: rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, and tahini. Toasted sesame oil has a much stronger nutty flavor than regular (or un-toasted) sesame oil. You can usually find it near other Asian ingredients in the international aisle. 

Dressing ingredients in the blender

Add the 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 Tbsp grated ginger, ½ cup neutral salad oil, ¼ cup rice vinegar, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 3 Tbsp honey, 1 Tbsp tahini, and ½ tsp toasted sesame oil to a blender. Any neutral-flavored salad oil, like peanut, canola, grapeseed, sesame (un-toasted), or safflower will work fine.

Blended dressing on a spoon in the blender

Blend until the dressing is smooth and creamy. If your dressing ends up being really thick and you’d like it a little more pourable, simply stir in a tablespoon or two of water.

A wooden bowl filled with sesame ginger dressing next to a knob of fresh ginger

Enjoy the sesame ginger dressing poured over your favorite salad, or as a dipping sauce!

The post Sesame Ginger Dressing appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Steak Kabobs

These Steak Kabobs are marinated in a delicious steak marinade and stacked on a skewer with mushrooms, bell pepper, and red onion and grilled to perfection! Summertime means it’s kabob time and these grilled Steak Kabobs are perfection. The steak…

These Steak Kabobs are marinated in a delicious steak marinade and stacked on a skewer with mushrooms, bell pepper, and red onion and grilled to perfection! Summertime means it’s kabob time and these grilled Steak Kabobs are perfection. The steak gets a tender, delicious flavor from a simple steak marinade and it’s layered with the…

The post Steak Kabobs appeared first on Two Peas & Their Pod.

Easy Sushi Rolls

Learn how to make sushi rolls (maki rolls) with this easy homemade sushi recipe.  The fillings and toppings here are 100% up to you, so choose whichever ingredients you love best! Guys, have you ever tried making homemade sushi rolls? ♡ It’s actually much easier than you might think.  And of course, the best part […]

Learn how to make sushi rolls (maki rolls) with this easy homemade sushi recipe.  The fillings and toppings here are 100% up to you, so choose whichever ingredients you love best!

Guys, have you ever tried making homemade sushi rolls? ♡

It’s actually much easier than you might think.  And of course, the best part of making your own sushi rolls is that you get to decide exactly what goes in them.  Yyyyyum.

Since all of our favorite sushi restaurants have been closed these past three months, Barclay and I have gotten in a rhythm of making ourselves a big batch of homemade maki rolls here once a week.  (Sushi Sundays!)  And I have to say — it has been so fun!  We prefer to keep things super no-frills around here, and usually just make our sushi with a few simple fillings plus a drizzle of spicy mayo.  But holy yum, these simple rolls have totally satisfied our sushi cravings during these weeks of staying at home.  And now that we have our assembly-line routine down, the two of us have found that we can make a big batch in just 30 minutes or so.  Not bad!

Now I will be the first to admit that our techniques for making maki rolls are not 100% authentic or traditional.  But that’s kind of the point — we just use the equipment that we already have and keep our ingredient list super-minimal, and this recipe works really well for us!  And best of all, it yields so much delicious sushi. ♡♡♡

So if you are also missing your favorite restaurant sushi right now, I thought I would offer a quick tutorial on how we make homemade sushi here in our house!  This recipe itself is not hard, but it does require a bit of extra time to prep all of those ingredients and make the maki rolls.  If you have a buddy (or in my case, a very enthusiastic sushi-loving husband) in the kitchen to help, the process can go much faster.  But however you make them, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly, easily and affordably you can make your very own homemade maki rolls.  Plus, it’s just fun!

Here’s everything you need to know…

(more…)

Roast Chicken with Caramelized Shallots

I used to be one of those that was surprised when people said, “I don’t have time to cook.” To me, cooking and shopping for ingredients, which take the better parts of my days, has always been a pleasure for me rather than a burden. However, now I get it. Making dinner after a long day at work can be a challenge. In France, people…

I used to be one of those that was surprised when people said, “I don’t have time to cook.” To me, cooking and shopping for ingredients, which take the better parts of my days, has always been a pleasure for me rather than a burden. However, now I get it. Making dinner after a long day at work can be a challenge. In France, people don’t get home from work until 7 or 7:30pm, and not everyone wants to put on a kitchen apron when they get home and get moving on dinner.

Even during the lockdown, when we found ourselves having more time around the house, I was busier than ever. It was a challenge tracking down ingredients, and cooking all the time led to lots of dishes. I was also doing my best not to let anything go to waste, which meant that instead of tossing radish leaves, I made radish leaf soup. A bag of lemons that started looking past their prime became jars of lemon curd. And a compunction to update older blog posts (and photos) as I revisited them during the lockdown, from French Chocolate Mousse Cake and Carrot Salad to Cosmopolitans, it’s no wonder after the lockdown ended, I felt like I needed a vacation!

Continue Reading Roast Chicken with Caramelized Shallots...

Perfect Pan Fried Tofu

Here’s how to make the best pan fried tofu: fast and easy, no pressing required! It has irresistible flavor and cooks in 15 minutes. Are you a tofu fan? I’ll confess that Alex and I haven’t been until recently. But this plant-based protein has started to win our hearts! Why? Well, it’s great for weeknight meals, which is where this recipe comes in. And guess what? Tofu can be majorly delicious, when it’s prepared correctly. Douse it in a little smoked sauce sauce and sesame oil and pan fry it until golden brown, and it’s positively irresistible! This perfect pan fried tofu is our go-to for easy plant-based dinners (along with this Tofu Scramble, also a favorite). Here’s how to make it! What you need for this pan fried tofu Tofu is soy milk that’s turned into curds (like in cheesemaking!) and pressed into blocks. It was invented in China and is used in many Asian cuisines from Chinese to Thai. On its own, it has no flavor at all (ew!). But combine it with a few simple flavorings and pow! It tastes savory and meaty all at once. Here’s what we’ve used for this pan fried tofu: Tofu, firm […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Here’s how to make the best pan fried tofu: fast and easy, no pressing required! It has irresistible flavor and cooks in 15 minutes.

Pan fried tofu

Are you a tofu fan? I’ll confess that Alex and I haven’t been until recently. But this plant-based protein has started to win our hearts! Why? Well, it’s great for weeknight meals, which is where this recipe comes in. And guess what? Tofu can be majorly delicious, when it’s prepared correctly. Douse it in a little smoked sauce sauce and sesame oil and pan fry it until golden brown, and it’s positively irresistible! This perfect pan fried tofu is our go-to for easy plant-based dinners (along with this Tofu Scramble, also a favorite). Here’s how to make it!

What you need for this pan fried tofu

Tofu is soy milk that’s turned into curds (like in cheesemaking!) and pressed into blocks. It was invented in China and is used in many Asian cuisines from Chinese to Thai. On its own, it has no flavor at all (ew!). But combine it with a few simple flavorings and pow! It tastes savory and meaty all at once. Here’s what we’ve used for this pan fried tofu:

  • Tofu, firm or extra firm: This is important! Do not, we repeat, do not buy soft or silken tofu. It will not work in this recipe.
  • Olive oil
  • Toasted sesame oil: Make sure it’s toasted! Regular sesame oil is neutral and intended for cooking; toasted has a nutty flavor and is intended for cooking.
  • Smoked soy sauce or soy sauce: Smoked shoyu is becoming widely available; if you can find it’s 100% worth it! Keep reading for more.
Pan fried tofu

Wait: you don’t have to press it?

Nope, this tofu recipe works without pressing it! If you’ve made tofu before, you might notice that many recipes call for wrapping the tofu in a towel and placing a heavy object on top for 30 minutes. Who has 30 minutes for that?

This pan fried tofu recipe is perfect for weeknight dinners because you don’t have to spend the time pressing it! Simply dry it off with a towel and you’re good to go. Score!

How to make pan fried tofu (basic steps)

Let’s clarify before we start: this is not crispy tofu! This pan fried tofu results in golden brown pieces that are crisped at the edges. It’s not ultra crispy, but it has a lovely texture that we like even better. Sometimes crispy tofu can get too crunchy. Here are the basic steps for how to make pan fried tofu (or jump right to the recipe):

  • Cut it: Slice the tofu into large cubes. Dry it off with a towel.
  • Cook side 1: Here’s where it gets a little interesting. Place the tofu in cold oil. Then bring it up to medium heat and cook 5 to 6 minutes until one side is golden brown.
  • Flip! Here’s the only hard part! Remove the pan from the heat to reduce spitting. Then flip the tofu: using chopsticks is easiest!
  • Cook side 2: Return to the heat. Cook another 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Season & cook a little more: Add toasted sesame oil and soy sauce. Cook another 2 minutes on each side. Done!
Flip the tofu with chopsticks
Chopsticks are the easiest tool for flipping the tofu

Use smoked soy sauce (shoyu) if you can find it!

Smoked soy sauce (or shoyu, the Japanese word for soy sauce) is popping up at mainstream grocery stores these days. Alex and I could not be happier! Years ago we found a bottle of smoked shoyu at a Japanese restaurant in Santa Fe and became obsessed. The intensely savory, smoky flavor is incredible for using in vegan recipes.

Because smoked shoyu was hard to find, we never called for it in our recipes: until now! If you can find it, a drizzle adds the perfect garnish. You can also order it online! Here’s the type we use: order Smoked Soy Sauce (Shoyu) online.

Pan fried tofu

Is tofu healthy?

We get this question a lot, because there have been some tofu rumors out there in the rumor mill. Here’s our two-cents: Tofu is part of a healthy diet. According to the Harvard TH Chan School of Nutrition, soy is a nutrient-dense source of protein that can safely be consumed several times a week. It’s likely to provide health benefits—especially when eaten as an alternative to red and processed meat. (For more details, go to Straight Talk About Soy.)

So, you can feel good adding this pan fried tofu recipe to your weekly meal calendar! Speaking of…

How to serve pan fried tofu

Here’s the fun part! Alex and I love whipping up this pan fried tofu. It was actually inspired by a method Alex made up one weeknight and we loved it so much, we wrote down how to do it! It’s so easy to throw into a bowl with some veggies for an easy vegan dinner. Here’s how we’d serve it:

Pan fried tofu

This pan fried tofu recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free.

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Pan fried tofu

Perfect Pan Fried Tofu


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 17 minutes
  • Yield: 4
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Here’s how to make the best pan fried tofu: fast and easy, no pressing required! It has irresistible flavor and cooks in 15 minutes.


Ingredients


Instructions

  1. Cut the tofu into large cubes (about 1.5″ x 2″) and pat it dry with a towel. Add the olive oil to a non-stick pan and add the tofu cubes and a few pinches kosher salt.
  2. Turn on the heat to medium-high. Cook 5 to 6 minutes until lightly browned on the bottom.
  3. Briefly remove the pan from the heat to reduce spitting. Flip the tofu with chopsticks (the easiest method!) or tongs. Return the heat to medium-high and cook additional 5 to 6 minutes until browned.
  4. Briefly remove from the heat again and drizzle with the sesame oil and soy sauce (watch for spitting). Return to low heat and cook an 2 minutes, then flip the and cook another 2 minutes, until the color is darkened. Serve immediately.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Pan Fried
  • Cuisine: Asian

Keywords: Pan fried tofu

More tofu recipes

If you’re a tofu fan, here are some more tofu recipes you might enjoy:

  • Easy Tofu Scramble This easy scramble has the same texture as scrambled eggs, but it’s 100% plant based! It’s a vegan breakfast idea you’ll want to make again and again.
  • Easy Marinated Tofu This one doesn’t even need to be cooked! Flavored with soy, sesame oil and ginger, this easy tofu recipe will be your new favorite. (It’s ours.)
  • Tofu Ramen Features crispy pan-fried tofu and a slurpable miso broth! It’s a delicious plant based dinner recipe.

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Sesame Tuna Salad

Canned tuna is a lot more versatile than I think many people realize. In other words, there’s a lot more you can do with it than just mixing with mayo and slapping it between two slices of bread. 😅If you’re tired of the traditional mayo-based tuna salad, give this lighter, brighter, Sesame Tuna Salad a […]

The post Sesame Tuna Salad appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Canned tuna is a lot more versatile than I think many people realize. In other words, there’s a lot more you can do with it than just mixing with mayo and slapping it between two slices of bread. 😅If you’re tired of the traditional mayo-based tuna salad, give this lighter, brighter, Sesame Tuna Salad a shot. It’s savory with a hint of sweetness and deep nutty undertones, and can be served several ways. Scroll down to see ideas for substitutions and add-ins, as well as a few different ways you can gobble up this tuna salad.

Simple Sesame Tuna Salad

A bowl of Sesame Tuna Salad surrounded by crackers, cucumber slices, and red pepper slices

Red Bell Pepper Substitutes:

If needed, you can substitute the red bell pepper with one shredded carrot. The carrot will supply a similar mild sweetness and a decent amount of crunch. Use a large-holed cheese grater to shred the carrot.

What is Toasted Sesame Oil and Can I Substitute It?

Toasted sesame oil is the ingredient that brings most of the sesame flavor to this recipe, so I don’t suggest substituting it. You can find a photo of my toasted sesame oil (purchased at Aldi) in the step by step photos below. Toasted sesame oil is pressed from sesame seeds that have been toasted first, so it has a very strong toasted nut flavor.

Unfortunately, toasted sesame oil isn’t always labeled as “toasted” but you can differentiate it from regular sesame oil by the color. Un-toasted sesame oil, which has a very mild flavor, is a light straw color similar to canola oil. Toasted sesame oil, on the other hand, has a deep amber color. You can usually find it in major grocery stores in the International foods aisle, near the Asian ingredients.

If you’re not into toasted sesame as a flavor or can’t source this ingredient, try my Sweet and Spicy Tuna Salad as an alternative.

Other Add-in Ideas:

There are other fun things that you can add to this Sesame Tuna Salad, if you have them on hand. Edamame would be a great way to stretch the tuna salad, while adding both protein and fiber. Chopped water chestnuts would also make a fun, fresh, and crunchy addition, as would slivered almonds. If you like a little spicy kick you can always add a pinch or two of red pepper flakes.

How to Serve Sesame Tuna Salad

I love this recipe because of all the different ways you can serve it. As shown in the photos, it’s great on crackers or cucumber slices. You can also serve it over a bowl of rice with a few cucumber slices as a nice bowl meal, or use it to fill lettuce wraps (with or without rice). You could even use it to make a more American style wrap sandwich in a large wrap with baby spinach. And lastly, this sesame tuna salad would be a great topper to any bed of greens.

Meal prep container filled with Sesame Tuna Salad, crackers, and cucumber slices

Find these glass meal prep containers in my Amazon shop.

 
A bowl of Sesame Tuna Salad surrounded by crackers and cucumber slices
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Sesame Tuna Salad

This fun spin on canned tuna is savory, sweet, and nutty. Sesame Tuna Salad is great on crackers, sliced cucumber, in lettuce wraps, or on salad greens.
Total Cost $2.59 recipe / $1.30 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 2 about 1 cup each
Calories 218.6kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp soy sauce $0.04
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil $0.20
  • 2 tsp brown sugar $0.03
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds $0.02
  • 2 5oz. cans chunk light tuna in water $1.58
  • 1/2 red bell pepper $0.50
  • 2 green onions $0.22

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, brown sugar, and sesame seeds.
  • Drain the tuna well, then add it to a bowl. Dice the red bell pepper (I served the other half on the side with the tuna salad) and slice the green onions. Add the bell pepper and green onion to the bowl with the tuna.
  • Pour the prepared sesame dressing over the tuna and vegetables in the bowl. Carefully fold the ingredients together until everything is coated in dressing. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 218.6kcal | Carbohydrates: 9.8g | Protein: 28.55g | Fat: 6.8g | Sodium: 607.45mg | Fiber: 1.9g

Scroll down to see the step by step photos!

A cracker topped with sesame tuna salad held close to the camera

How to Make Sesame Tuna Salad – Step by Step Photos

Bottle of toasted sesame oil

This little bottle is where all the magic happens. Toasted sesame oil has a VERY strong nutty-sesame flavor. This brand labels it as “toasted” but sometimes the bottles just say “sesame oil.” You can tell it’s toasted vs. un-toasted by the color. Toasted sesame oil is a deep brown/amber color. Un-toasted sesame oil, which has a very mild flavor and is better suited for cooking, is a light straw color, like canola oil.

Sesame dressing in a small bowl

Prepare the sesame dressing first. In a small bowl, combine 2 tsp soy sauce, 2 tsp toasted sesame oil 2 tsp brown sugar, and 1 tsp sesame seeds. 

Tuna, diced red bell pepper, and sliced green onion in a bowl

Drain two 5oz. cans of chunk light tuna in water, then add them to a bowl. Dice 1/2 of a red bell pepper and slice two green onions. Add the bell pepper and green onion to the bowl with the drained tuna.

Sesame dressing being poured into the bowl with tuna

Give the sesame dressing another quick stir, then pour it over the ingredients in the bowl.

Finished sesame tuna salad in the bowl

Carefully fold the ingredients together until everything is coated in dressing. Don’t stir so vigorously that the tuna completely shreds.

A bowl of Sesame Tuna Salad surrounded by crackers and cucumber slices

Serve the Sesame Tuna Salad immediately, or refrigerate until ready to eat. The tuna salad will be good in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days, and you’ll probably want to give it a stir before serving if it’s been stored in the refrigerator. :)

The post Sesame Tuna Salad appeared first on Budget Bytes.