The beloved Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich in grain bowl form! Easy to make, packed with crunchy veggies and delivering tons of delicious flavor in every bite - these grain bowls will be your new favorite weeknight meal.
This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product via these links, I will earn a small commission which helps to keep this blog running!
I've always loved the flavors of a Banh Mi sandwich but it's something I've only picked up at Whole Foods for lunch or ordered when I've been out to eat.
Banh Mi's sandwiches combine traditional Vietnamese cuisine with a bit of French influence thrown in. These bowls still have most of those traditional flavors but with the twist of replacing the bread with a nice, hearty grain - quinoa! I've been all about bowls lately. They are so easy to make and exceptional when it comes to meal prepping. They really are the ultimate weeknight meal. And they make an excellent packable lunch too!
Creating the Perfect Grain Bowl
Grain bowls are really all about layers. By layering in the various components you get all the great flavors in one tasty bite. Bowls also tend to be packed with fresh seasonal ingredients. They are super easy to customize as well which makes them great for those picky eaters in your household!
So, let's talk about how to put it all together:
- First, let's start with the base layer, which in this case is quinoa. You could really start with any grain - rice, farro or even barley. Basically, this is a big salad built on a base of grains instead of greens!
- The veggies come next. In this
bowlthe cucumber adds a nice cooling crunch to contrast the spicy mayo. And the pickled red onions give you a nice tangy pop of color. You want to use a couple of different types of veggies to add layers of flavor to your bowl.
- Then comes the protein. These lemongrass turkey meatballs are packed with flavor which makes them a great substitution for the pork that's in a traditional Banh Mi.
- Last comes the sauce. You'll drizzle the whole bowl with the spicy mayo and add some chopped cilantro for an extra pop of flavor. I normally serve a little extra sauce on the side....just in case!
Making Pickled Veggies
Making pickled veggies is really, really easy. Basically you take vinegar, water, sugar or honey and a bit of salt. Add some thinly sliced veggies and let it sit for at least an hour. A day or two is best, but if you forget to make them ahead of time you can still make it work!
Meal Prep Tips
You can definitely make the quinoa a couple of days ahead of time and store it in your refrigerator until you are ready to construct your bowls. The pickled onions can also be made ahead of time. In fact, I highly recommend that as they taste best after a day or two in the pickling juice.
I chop and spiralize veggies just about every weekend when I'm meal prepping. They will keep for several days in the refrigerator so you've got them ready for whatever you decide to make during the week. This bowl calls for raw veggies, so no need to worry about roasting anything, but in the
The meatballs are also a great candidate for meal prep. I normally make and cook them ahead of time so all you have to do is reheat them when you are ready to eat.
Tools you'll want for this recipe
- Cookie Scoop - I use this kind of scoop for all sorts of different things. They are of course, great for making cookies, but they also come in handy for making meatballs, arancini and portioning out other ingredients too.
- Spiralizer - I recently upgraded my hand-held spiralizer to this one. I'm trying to eat more veggies and figured spiralizing them was a good way to accomplish this. It makes them a little bit more fun and super versatile too!
Turkey Banh Mi Quinoa Bowls
For the pickled onions:
- ½ cup thinly sliced red onion
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup warm water
For the meatballs:
- ½ pound ground turkey thigh
- ¼ pound ground turkey breast
- 2 teaspoons minced lemongrass
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon chili sauce, i.e. sriracha
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the spicy mayo:
- ¼ cup olive oil mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- ½ teaspoon sriracha
For the bowl:
- ½ cup quinoa
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup chopped English cucumber
- ½ a jalapenõ pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 large carrot, spiralized (or sliced into thin rounds if you don't have a spiralizer)
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
- If you haven't already made them ahead of time, mix the vinegar, sugar, salt and water in a small bowl. Add the sliced onions to a mason jar or other container with a lid, pour the pickling mixture over the onions and let pickle until ready to use. If you are making them ahead of time store the jar in your refrigerator.
- Add the quinoa and water to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until water is evaporated. Remove from heat and let sit with the lid on for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
- To make the meatballs mix the turkey, lemongrass, garlic, chili sauce and salt together in a small mixing bowl. Form into meatballs using a scoop or your hands and place them on the baking sheet. You should get about 10 meatballs out of the mixture. Cook the meatballs for 20 minutes.
- While the meatballs are cooking mix the mayo, sriracha and lime juice in a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- To assemble the bowls divide the quinoa between two large soup or salad bowls. Add the meatballs, onions, carrots, cucumber and jalapenõ. Drizzle with the spicy mayo and garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve and enjoy!
I usually eat Banh Mi in sandwich form. These turkey bowls sound delicious. I know my family would love them for dinner any night of the week.
I have never tried Banh Mi, but you have my mouth watering and now I want to! This looks delicious!
Corina Blum says
I think quinoa is so good in recipes like this but what I especially like the sound of is those pickled onions. They must really make the salad sing!
Chef and Steward says
This such a great idea for a healthier grain side for a Vietnamese Ban Mi than bread. Thanks for this idea because I am breaking this out this weekend!
Urban Foodie Kitchen says
I hope you enjoy it!!
Kelly Anthony says
Look at all that color and that sauce -- oh my! This bowl is everything!
I am going to make this bahn mi bowls this week for dinner, I cannot wait to try them. The pickled onions and mayo dressing make this an extra special dinner.
Leslie Kiszka says
Vietnamese food has to be one of my favorite things in the world - their dishes are always so bright and refreshing. Your recipe is no exception - gimme gimme!
These ingredients work so well -- delicious AND filling. The perfect make ahead packable lunch! And those pickled onions are so good on so many other things, too!
What a great combination of flavors! The lemongrass and chili sauce is such a great combination of flavors. I love that this is a little lighter with the turkey rather than pork belly.
Loreto and Nicoletta Nardelli says
It looks colorful, healthy and nutritious. A balanced meal that also looks good and must taste awesome, is a plus in my book!
I loooove quinoa. Anything with quinoa I’m happy. And with meatball it’s like 2 best worlds meet together. I need a bowl of these right now, it’s so tempting
Chef Markus Mueller says
I love bahn mi sandwiches, so I can only imagine i would enjoy these healthy bowls. It's funny, because before 'bowls' of any type became popular, I always just made variations of classic dishes, and combined them in a bowl. Either over lettuce, rice or noodles, the flavor combos still work, so its just a delicious mix of goodies thats easy to throw together!