For some reason the “Asian-Style” dinner doesn’t come easily to me – I’ll still refer to recipes to find that elusive balance of sweet/savory/spicy. There are certain ingredients such as “fish sauce” and “hoisin sauce” that, because I don’t remember their unique flavor, I get nervous to use. That being said, I know I’ve posted similar recipes to this before but if you’re like me, a new take is always appreciated.
If I wasn’t worried about my health, I’d skip the veggies and protein and just eat a heaping bowl of sesame noodles every night. Because sesame noodles are the best. I do care, so my ultimate goal in a meal like this is to enjoy it as much as I would a bowl of sesame noodles. I actually ate this for lunch and gave the rest to a busy friend for her dinner – to great reviews. The best dinners (as far as I’m concerned) are the ones you can eat out of a bowl, with just a fork, and cover every food group. Prep and clean up for these one-bowl dinners are usually pretty easy, which is great for a week night. I find that the more comfortable I get with cooking, the better I am at multi-tasking in the kitchen. This particular meal can come together in about 20 minutes if you cook the chicken, make the sauce, and start sauteeing your veggies while the pasta cooks.
Look, maybe you’re a health-conscious eater all time and you can add this to your healthy eating repertoire. Maybe you ate eleven Kit-Kat bars last night you’re in desperate need of a health food redemption. Either way, this meal should be on your dinner line-up. Sweet, savory, and spicy coverage of all your major food groups sounds like a noodle-slurping good time to me.
Sweet and Spicy Chicken and Veggie Stir-fry
8 oz. whole wheat spaghetti
4 c. fresh or frozen broccoli florets
1 tsp. salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. soy sauce
3 tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tbsp. veggie or canola oil
1 lg. chicken breast (or 2 smaller)
1/2 lb. sugar snap peas (about 2 heaping cups)
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (or more to taste)
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat (lid on). Add salt and pasta. Set timer for 10 minutes. Pasta cooks with the lid OFF.
2. When timer reads 4 minutes, add broccoli to boiling pasta water. If using frozen broccoli, add broccoli at 2 minute mark.
3. Meanwhile, whisk garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, cornstarch and ginger in a glass measuring cup or bowl.
4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add oil. Sprinkle chicken on either side with salt and pepper and cook in oil until both sides are browned and chicken is cooked throughout (if slightly pink in the center it’s okay as chicken will return to pan later in recipe).
5. Before draining pasta, scoop about 1/4 c. of the pasta water out of the pot and add it to the sauce mixture from step 3. Stir to combine and set aside.
6. Drain pasta/broccoli in a colander.
7. Remove chicken from skillet and add peas and pepper. Saute for five minutes over medium-high heat.
8. Slice chicken and return to skillet. Add pasta, broccoli, sauce, and crushed red pepper to the skillet. Use tongs to mix pasta and let cook in sauce, 3-5 minutes.
9. Plate and serve immediately.