Jun 25, 2014
Protein builds muscle, yes, but it also helps you burn fat. You burn more calories digesting protein than you do breaking down carbs, and protein triggers your natural hunger-taming hormones. In a recent study, subjects who overate by 1,000 calories gained more lean tissue if they stuck to a high-protein plan. Whip up these protein-packed recipes any day of the week to pack on muscle and say goodbye to flab.
How to use this guide: In recipes that don't specify amounts for meats, poultry, or fish, use a total of 12 to 16 ounces. Each recipe makes 4 belly-filling servings.
37 Protein-Packed Recipes
Lamb burger with smoked mozzarella
Cut 1/4 pound of smoked mozzarella into four pieces. Divide a pound of ground lamb into quarters and form into patties around each piece of cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Grill or broil until the outsides feel very firm, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Serve on toasted buns with your choice of fixings.
Chicken braised in soy sauce and lemon
Brown bone-in chicken pieces in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Remove from pan. In same pan, stir in some chopped garlic. Add 1/2 Tbsp minced lemon zest, a pinch of cayenne, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sugar, and 1/3 cup water; stir. Add the chicken, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, turning the pieces once. Add lemon juice and more soy sauce to taste.
Grilled chicken with pesto sauce
For pesto: In a blender or food processor, puree 2 cups fresh basil, 1 garlic clove, a pinch of salt, 2 Tbsp pine nuts, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, and 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil. For chicken: Season 1 pound of thin chicken cutlets with salt and pepper. Grill for about 4 minutes per side. Paint with pesto and serve.
Chicken with citrus sauce
For citrus sauce: In a pan, warm the zest and juice of 1 lemon plus the sections of another lemon, an orange, and a grapefruit. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, 1/2 tsp minced garlic, 1 small onion (minced), and salt and pepper. For chicken: Rub boneless chicken breast with a small amount of extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil or grill for 10 minutes, and serve with the citrus sauce.
Chicken tikka with yogurt sauce
For yogurt sauce: Mix 1 cup yogurt with 1 tsp minced garlic and some lemon juice, salt, and pepper. For chicken: Cut boneless chicken breast into 1" chunks and marinate in 1/4 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup ground cashews, and 1 tsp each of ground cardamom, ground coriander, minced ginger, and minced garlic for 30 minutes. Grill until brown and cooked through (about 7 minutes); serve with yogurt sauce.
Broiled chicken breast with cilantro and lime
Combine 3 Tbsp peanut oil, 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro leaves, 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice, 1 Tbsp chopped shallots, 1/4 tsp cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread half in a pan and add the chicken; sprinkle meat with more salt and pepper, then top with the remaining mixture. Broil until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro and lime wedges.
Grilled chicken with wasabi sauce
For sauce: Combine 1 Tbsp minced garlic, 1/2 cup rice vinegar, 2 Tbsp mirin (Japanese rice wine; you'll find it in your market's international aisle), 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger, 1 tsp wasabi powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Warm over low heat or in microwave. For chicken: Brush boneless breasts with olive oil and grill for 10 minutes. Pour wasabi sauce over the chicken; garnish with chopped scallions and cilantro.
Herb-roasted chicken cutlets
Heat oven to 325°F. Mix 1 Tbsp minced fresh tarragon, 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Place chicken in a baking dish with 1 Tbsp olive oil, the herb mixture, and 1 cup chicken stock. Roast about 15 minutes. Serve with the herb sauce.
Sautéed chicken with warm spices
Heat 4 Tbsp peanut oil in a large skillet. Shake salt and pepper onto chicken cutlets, then dredge them in flour seasoned with cayenne pepper. Saute chicken until browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan. In the same pan, sauté 1/2 cup minced onion until soft. Add 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, and 1 cup chicken stock; cook over medium heat until reduced. Add chopped cilantro leaves and lime juice. Spoon the sauce over the chicken.
Dice 6 slices of cooked bacon and 2 cooked boneless chicken breasts. Chop half a red onion, a tomato, an avocado, and a hard-boiled egg. Top a bowl of lettuce with the meat, vegetables, egg, and 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese. Whisk together 2/3 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup sherry vinegar, a diced shallot, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss all together and serve.
Kung Pao shrimp
Combine 1 Tbsp dry sherry or Shaoxing wine, 1/2 tsp cornstarch, and 1 1/2 pounds of peeled raw shrimp. Heat 2 Tbsp canola oil and cook a few dried chili peppers over medium heat until slightly blackened. Mince 2 cloves of garlic and add to the shrimp mixture along with 1 tsp minced ginger. Cook for about 3 minutes. Reduce heat, add 1 tsp sugar and 3 Tbsp soy sauce, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tsp sesame oil and a chopped scallion. Garnish with 2 oz chopped roasted peanuts.
Grilled shrimp salad with chili and basil
Grill peeled raw shrimp until firm. Toss 4 cups salad greens with 1 cup torn Thai basil leaves, 1/4 cup minced red onion, and 1 diced cucumber. Whisk together the juice of 2 limes, 1 Tbsp fish sauce, 1/8 tsp red-pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp sugar, and 1 Tbsp water. Toss with greens and vegetables. Lay shrimp on top and serve.
Mediterranean seafood salad
Cut 1/2 pound of any firm white fish into half-inch chunks and drop into boiling salted water. After 30 seconds, add 8 ounces each of scallops and peeled raw shrimp. Cover, remove from heat, let sit for 10 minutes, and drain. Toss the seafood with 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley, 1 Tbsp capers, 1 minced shallot, 1/4 cup olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Add lemon juice and other seasonings to taste, and serve.
Grilled cod with basil dipping sauce
For sauce: Combine 2 Tbsp water, 1 tsp minced garlic, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 2 Tbsp rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp sugar, 1 Thai chili (seeded and thinly sliced), and 1/2 cup sliced fresh basil. Season 1 pound of cod with salt and pepper. Cook, turning once, until cooked through (8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness). Serve with the sauce.
Oven-fried fish fillets
Preheat oven to 450°F. Soak fish fillets in 1 1/2 cups milk, then drain and dredge in bread crumbs seasoned with salt and pepper. Coat the bottom of a baking pan with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add fillets and drizzle with a little oil. Bake 8 to 15 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.
Pan-cooked salmon with miso-carrot sauce
For sauce: In a food processor, combine 1/4 cup peanut oil, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 3 Tbsp mild/sweet miso, 1 Tbsp dark sesame oil, 2 carrots, and a chunk of peeled fresh ginger (to taste) and blend until chunky-smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. For fish: In a pan, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle 1 pound of salmon with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 4 minutes, turn, and continue cooking until it reaches desired doneness. Serve with the sauce.
Smoked salmon scramble
Whisk together 4 eggs, 2 Tbsp milk or cream, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat 2 Tbsp butter until it gets foamy. Add eggs and reduce heat. Stir frequently but gently, pushing eggs from the pan edges into the center. Add 1/2 cup flaked smoked salmon. Remove eggs from the heat when just set. Garnish with sour cream.
Red snapper meuniere
Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a pan. Sprinkle fish fillets with salt and pepper; dredge in flour. Cook until brown on one side (about 3 minutes); turn. Cook second side until firm to the touch (2 to 4 minutes). Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil; top with minced parsley.
Grilled swordfish with fruit salsa
For salsa: Mix half-inch squares of papaya, mango, pineapple, and/or watermelon with 1/2 cup each of diced bell pepper (any color) and red onion, 2 Tbsp minced chilis, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 3 Tbsp lime juice, and salt to taste. For fish: Sprinkle swordfish with salt and pepper and grill on one side for 5 minutes; turn and cook to desired doneness. Serve with salsa and lime wedges.
Grilled tuna steak with corn and tomato relish
For relish: Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a skillet. Cook kernels from 4 ears of corn until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add 2 chopped tomatoes, some salt and pepper, 1 tsp ground cumin, and 1/4 tsp cayenne. Cook for 30 seconds; remove from heat. For fish: Sprinkle tuna with salt and pepper. Grill, turning once, to desired doneness; serve with the relish.
In a food processor, combine 1 Tbsp fish sauce, 1 tsp pepper, 1 tsp sugar, 1 small seeded Thai chili, 2 Tbsp lime juice, 2 cloves garlic, 2 chopped shallots, 1/2 cup chopped mint or Thai basil, 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, and salt. Pulse until finely chopped. Grill steak to desired doneness and serve sliced on a bed of greens with the sauce.
Grilled beef salad with mint
Cook 1 pound of beef tenderloin to medium-rare, about 10 minutes. Toss 4 cups lettuce with 1 cup torn mint leaves, 1/4 cup minced red onion, and 1 diced cucumber. Whisk together the juice of 2 limes, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1/8 tsp cayenne, and 1 Tbsp water. Thinly slice beef and add its juices to the dressing. Serve meat over salad drizzled with dressing.
Stir-fried spicy beef
Thinly slice 1 pound of flank steak across the grain into bite-size pieces. Chop 1/2 cup basil and mix with beef. Cook 1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic in 1 Tbsp peanut oil until slightly brown. Add beef-basil mixture and 1/4 Tbsp red-pepper flakes; cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp soy sauce and the juice of half a lime and serve.
Edamame with ground pork
In 2 Tbsp olive oil, cook 8 ounces of ground pork until brown and crisp. Remove pork from the pan and pour off all but 2 Tbsp fat. In same pan, cook a chopped onion and 1 Tbsp minced garlic until soft, about 3 minutes. Add 1 tsp ground cumin and 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes; cook for 10 minutes. Stir in 2 cups shelled edamame and cook until tender (about 8 minutes). Return pork to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and garnish with cilantro.
Sauteed pork medallions with lemon and parsley
Cut 1 pound of pork tenderloin into half-inch-thick slices and pound to quarter-inch thickness. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a pan. Dredge pork medallions in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, turning once. Remove. Pour off fat, add 1/2 cup dry white wine, and cook until wine is almost evaporated. Add lemon juice and a few capers. Spoon sauce over meat. Serve with parsley and lemon wedges.
Thai-style stir-fried pork
Cut 1 pound of pork shoulder into bite-size pieces. Cook in 1 Tbsp peanut oil until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Remove. Cook 1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic for 10 seconds. Add 1 pound of chopped spinach and cook until just wilted. Add the pork, 2 Tbsp fish sauce, and the juice of half a lime. Stir and serve.
Broiled lamb chops with Swiss chard
Sprinkle 2 lamb chops with salt and pepper. Broil for about 5 minutes per side, turning once. Chop 1 pound of Swiss chard, separating stems from leaves. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a small pot, stir in stems, and cook until softened. Add leaves, cover, and steam for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper. Serve chops with a mound of greens and lemon wedges.
Lamb medallions with shallots, tarragon, and red wine
Cut 1 pound of lamb loin into 3/4-inch-thick rounds and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp butter in a pan and cook lamb until brown on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove lamb and set aside. For sauce: Add 1 Tbsp minced shallots to pan cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 tsp minced tarragon and 1/2 cup red wine; simmer until liquid is reduced by half. Stir in 1 Tbsp butter and juices from under the resting meat. Serve lamb with the sauce.
White beans, cabbage, and ham
In boiling salted water, cook 3 cups chopped cabbage until tender; drain. In 2 Tbsp olive oil, cook 2 cups chopped leeks and 1 chopped celery stalk until softened, about 5 minutes. Add 2 sprigs thyme, 1/2 cup chopped ham, 1 cup chicken stock, 3 cups drained cannellini beans, and cabbage. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until heated through. Serve with grated Parmesan.
Miso-grilled pork tenderloin
Rub a pork tenderloin with 1/4 cup white, yellow, or red miso paste. Grill, browning all sides, until almost cooked through but slightly pink in the center (10 to 15 minutes). Let sit for 10 minutes, then cut into half-inch-thick slices and serve.
Chorizo and beans
Cut about 1/2 pound of chorizo into chunks and bury in a pot filled with 4 cups canned cannellini beans and dried chili or red-pepper flakes to taste. Warm on a stove over medium heat (about 10 minutes), adjust seasoning, and serve.
Veal cutlets with rosemary and parmesan
Combine 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary, and salt and pepper. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil. Dredge quarter-inch-thick veal cutlets in crumb mixture. Cook, turning once, until browned (less than 5 minutes total). Serve with lemon quarters.
In a food processor, combine 2 cups drained canned beans (white, black, red, or garbanzo), a quartered onion, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese, 1 Tbsp chili powder, 1 egg, and salt and pepper to taste. Pulse until chunky, adding liquid to hold the mix together. Shape into patties and cook in a pan coated with cooking spray until browned on one side, about 5 minutes; turn and cook on other side until firm and browned.
Baked eggs with spinach
Preheat oven to 350°F. In boiling salted water, cook 2 pounds of spinach for 1 minute. Drain, cool, squeeze out excess liquid, and chop. Heat 3 Tbsp butter in a baking dish, add spinach, and toss to coat. Spread out spinach, making 8 nests. Crack 1 egg into each and top with salt, pepper, Parmesan, and bread crumbs. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until yolks are just set and whites are solidified.
Garlicky shrimp fajitas with guacamole
Cook minced garlic cloves in canola oil until fragrant. Add 1 pound of peeled shrimp; sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until no longer pink (about 3 minutes). Mash an avocado with 2 Tbsp minced shallot or onion, 1 tsp garlic, 1 tsp diced chili, a squeeze of lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Serve the shrimp and guacamole with 4 heated flour tortillas.
Pan-roasted swordfish with pea pure
Preheat oven to 500°F. In an ovenproof skillet, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil; add swordfish steaks, salt, and pepper and cook until browned, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Cook in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, boil 2 cups of peas until tender, then purée with 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger. Add water until the mixture is the consistency of yogurt. Serve fish on top of mixture.
Grilled chicken, sausage, and vegetable skewers
Cut boneless chicken breast and your favorite sausage into 1-inch chunks. Cut an eggplant into 1-inch cubes and 2 red bell peppers into 2-inch pieces. Cut a lemon into 8 wedges. Thread pieces onto skewers, alternating ingredients, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill for 10 to 15 minutes and remove pieces from skewers; squeeze grilled lemon over the dish. (It's easy to get your protein fill by throwing your food on the grill.
Source: M. Bittman