sooo, this is happening: spicy sesame beef and broccoli. those of you who just got here from pinterest are thinking, “right, that’s why i’m here” and those of you who have been around here longer or have known me for a while know that beef is not a thing we’ve been doing here. in fact, it’s not a thing i’ve been doing at all for, oh, the past 29 years.
that’s right, i stopped eating beef when i was 5 years old and started eating it again about a month ago. (and now i think i’m qualified to share a beef recipe with you? in some ways, i’d say a beef recipe that a former non-beef eater actually likes is a good endorsement. maybe? let’s go with that…)
the reason i stopped eating red meat when i was little was simple: i didn’t like the taste or whole experience. the reason i restarted is… a longer story that i shall attempt to summarize succinctly.
just about a year ago, i stopped eating gluten and dairy, as an experiment. i didn’t think it would make much of a difference, so i didn’t really make a thing of it here. except that it turned out it did make a difference. but i still wasn’t sure i was willing to put a stake in the ground as a person who never eats gluten or dairy.
so i just sort of continued along, mostly posting recipes that just happened to not have gluten or dairy, but not getting too explicit about it. i told myself that once i “figured out” what i was eating and what i wasn’t (and, by extension, what recipes would show up here), i would do a declaratory post about it.
fast forward a year and i’ve gone through some more dietary iterations (including lower carb and paleo, which is where the beef comes in) and mostly what i’ve figured out, is that what i eat – and then post here – is a moving target. i like things i didn’t used to like (see: all the vegetables) and eat things i didn’t used to eat (see: anything with red meat in it). and i’m sure there are more changes to come.
so, for now, i’m continuing to label things as much as possible with tags and categories (visible at the bottom of each post, below the nutrition label) and trying to make it easier to search within categories that align with different diet templates (those links in the ‘special diets’ section over on the right if you’re on a desktop or about 2/3 of the way down, past the most recent 5 recipes, if you’re on mobile. also in the website menu under ‘recipes’.).
and don’t worry, i’m not taking down any of the recipes that have gluten/dairy/other ingredient that i’m no longer eating effective 2 minutes ago. cardamom cake, mug brownie mix, and kahlua chocolate chip ice cream are popular recipes here because they are yummy, and they are not going anywhere. and i’ll continue to minimize the “weird” ingredients and only post recipes that are delicious by mainstream standards (looking at you, (vegan/dairy free) cashew cream sauce!). and i’ll continue to offer substitutions and variations when they work, so that as many of us as possible can eat tasty things together.
which brings us to today’s spicy sesame beef and broccoli! ironically, this recipe started as spicy sesame zoodles with crispy tofu. by the time i was done with it, i was basically just using the delicious sounding sauce, which was peanut butter based in the original recipe.
since i’m mostly eating paleo these days, that means no peanuts (since they’re a legume and legumes are out). luckily, i recently bought a bag of brazil nuts at trader joe’s (see related: trying new things, especially when these new things are high in selenium, a mineral that many of us often don’t get enough of). as soon as i popped one in my mouth, my first thought was, “woah, these taste like peanuts!”.
i immediately knew that i wanted to try making that peanut sauce recipe i had seen with brazil nuts instead of peanut butter. and it totally worked! the sauce for this spicy sesame beef and broccoli is a really savory, peanut-y, strong, sesame flavored concoction. like peanut sauce plus.
in other words, perfect for easing those of us who aren’t so sure about our new red meat-eating habits into eating a meal that contains ground beef. (i tried this once with shaved steak and texture-wise, i’m not there yet.) to balance out all of this crazy new meat business, i included lots of familiar broccoli and spinach (i’m still all about one pot and one bowl meals).
the recipe i came up with in the end could be paleo, or not. it could be gluten free, or not. it could be soy free, or not. (i don’t know how you would get dairy in there, but maybe??) in other words, just like most savory recipes (as opposed to baking recipes), you can customize this spicy sesame beef and broccoli to your preferences. apparently mine include ground beef (which my former self says you could totally sub with ground turkey or pork!)…
did you make this recipe? i’d love to know what you think of it! leave a comment below and share a picture on instagram with the hashtag #tastyseasons.
spicy sesame beef and broccoli is a flavor-packed, one pot, easy weeknight dinner. peanut butter or brazil nuts plus sesame oil creates a creamy, savory sauce to coat the quick cooking ground beef and broccoli. enjoy this easy and delicious gluten free, dairy free, paleo, and low carb recipe today!
- 1-pound (454 g. / 16 oz.) ground beef
- 1-pound (454 g. / 16 oz.) broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
- ¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz.) water
- 6 oz. (170 g.) baby spinach
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 135 g. (1 1/8 cups / 4 ¾ oz.) brazil nuts OR 135 g. (1/2 cup / 4 ¾ oz.) peanut butter
- 1/3 cup (79 ml / 2 2/3 fl. oz.) coconut aminos, low sodium tamari, or low sodium soy sauce
- ¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz.) sesame oil
- ¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz.) rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons water, plus more as needed to thin the sauce
- 2 tablespoons sambal oelek (homemade if strict paleo)
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1” (2.5 cm) piece of fresh ginger
- juice of half a lime
- to make the sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a blender (a high-speed blender (affiliate) will work best if you’re using whole brazil nuts). if you don’t want to/can’t blend, use peanut butter (instead of whole nuts) and finely grate the garlic and ginger (i recommend a microplaner (affiliate)), then shake the sauce together in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.
- heat a large skillet that has a lid (for later) over medium heat. add the ground beef and brown, uncovered, until cooked all the way through; transfer to a bowl.
- add the broccoli and water to the now empty pan, then immediately cover the pan with the lid to trap the steam. steam the broccoli for 1 minute, until partially tender.
- add the spinach, stir, replace the lid, and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring once, until the broccoli is tender and the spinach is wilted.
- remove the lid, then add the beef and just over half of the sauce. stir to coat everything in the sauce and decide if you’d like more sauce or to thin the sauce out with a tablespoon or two of water. i usually use about 1 ¼ of the 2 cups of sauce and save the rest in a jar in the fridge to make a smaller batch of this spicy sesame beef and broccoli next week with the remaining sauce. if you’re serving this over rice, you may want to use more of the sauce and a bit of water to thin it.
- serve immediately, topped with scallions. leftovers keep for several days in an airtight container in the refrigerator or longer in the freezer and heat up well.
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