Chinese and Italian Recipes | Meal Plan Menu

This week on our meal planning website, we have delicious Chinese and Italian recipes for creative and flavorful dinners on the grill, stovetop, or in a slow cooker.

  • By Brittany Yamamoto-Taylor
  • June 22, 2018

Let us take you on a little trip to southern China and central Italy this week! Blooming from the grand landscapes of these coastal regions are distinctly delectable dishes that we know will make you want to start planning your next vacation.

Hoisin sauce is the staple of our two Chinese-inspired recipes this week. This sweet and spicy sauce is prominent in southern China’s Cantonese cuisine and gets its deep flavor from soybeans, vinegar, sugar, garlic, and various spices. You can easily find it in the Asian aisle at most grocery stores or get it online in both regular and gluten-free versions.

Tomatoes and basil add color and flavor to our two Italian-inspired dinners this week. These elements perfectly complement cannellini beans, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, shrimp, eggplant, and Italian seasoning to bring out a coastal Mediterranean flare.

“Cook Smarts has allowed me to try different cuisines that I don’t normally cook from and have been pleasantly surprised. I’ll think, ‘I’m not sure I’m going to like this,’ and I always like it. So it’s helped me expand my palate too and get more veggies in my husband.“

— Sarah S. (Member since Dec 2015)

All meals come with gluten-free, paleo, and vegetarian options, as well as a grocery list and optional weekend prep steps.

Meal Planning Smarts


  • With summer in full swing, fresh basil and green onions add flavor and color to several meals while ensuring none goes to waste.
  • Grilling (or broiling) a big batch of vegetables on Tuesday will make Thursday’s meal come together that much faster!


  • Our hoisin ribs can be slow-cooked up to two days ahead so when Monday rolls around, you only have to finish them in the oven for 15 minutes.


  • Monday’s hoisin BBQ sauce can be paired with chicken or salmon for an entirely new lunch or dinner.
  • If you make extra grilled veggies (which is always a good idea!), you can easily fold them into a frittata or scramble like Thursday’s Paleo recipe.

On the Menu

MONDAY | Slow Cooker Hoisin Ribs with Rice & Asian-Marinated Green Beans

Our homemade hoisin BBQ sauce is the star of this Asian-inspired dish. The balanced flavors of ginger, chili, garlic, hoisin sauce, and soy sauce make the perfect glaze to brush on supple ribs to infuse them with maximum flavor. The secret to tender ribs is letting them take their time in a slow cooker. No slow cooker? That’s okay, we’ve included instructions for the oven as well!

Vegetarians will make a sweet and spicy hoisin stir-fry with tofu, green beans, edamame, and jalapeños. Paleo eaters can enjoy ribs on a bed of cauliflower rice and with an Asian BBQ sauce made from ginger, tomato paste, coconut aminos, honey, and chili garlic sauce. Those on a gluten-free diet can simply use a gluten-free hoisin sauce and Tamari in place of soy sauce.

TUESDAY | Shrimp & Grilled Vegetable Panzanella with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Panzanella is a popular summer salad in central Italy. It drizzles vinaigrette over grilled or toasted cubes of bread to give a hearty crunch to every bite. Our version uses flavorful shrimp and packs in the nutrients with bell peppers, zucchini, eggplants, tomatoes, and mixed greens.

Vegetarian members can swap out the shrimp for walnuts, garbanzo beans, and portobello mushrooms. Paleo members will get that satisfying crunch from walnuts instead of bread while gluten-free members can simply use GF sandwich bread.

WEDNESDAY | Black Pepper Beef Stir-Fry with Rice

In just a quick 35 minutes, you can have a delicious beef stir-fry on the table. Our fresh cracked black pepper sauce can be adjusted to add just as much spicy kick as you want. Over a bed of rice, enjoy the flavors and nutrients of bell peppers, broccoli, green onions, and a dash of lime juice for a bright finish.

The vegetarian version of our recipe turns the stir-fry into a great fried rice that uses the same veggies and black pepper sauce but adds eggs and cashews for some extra protein. Our Paleo recipe uses cauliflower rice and coconut aminos instead of soy sauce. Meanwhile, our gluten-free recipe only has one thing to swap out: Tamari in place of soy sauce.

THURSDAY | Italian-Style Vegetable Quesadillas with Balsamic Tomato & Basil Salsa

These quesadillas aren’t exactly traditional, but fusion foods are so exciting and fun. We fold Italian-inspired veggies and flavors into the core of our unique vegetarian quesadillas. The tomato and basil “salsa” is such a fresh and delightful complement to melted cheese and toasted tortillas, you’ll be wishing you had thought of this combo before.

These quesadillas are already vegetarian and our gluten-free version simply uses GF tortillas. Those on the Paleo diet can dig into a summer vegetable and bacon scramble with our tomato-basil “salsa” on top.

Weekly Meal Planner | Menu for Week of 6/25/18 via Cook Smarts

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