On last night’s menu, we had scheduled Big Salad Night. But sometimes, schedules change and menus need to be shifted. Such was the case on this night. I was sick all day and glad that my kids had a full day of school so I didn’t have to play the role of mom from 9am to 3pm, giving me a chance to rest before the afternoon rush. At around 4pm, I roused myself enough to begin dinner preparation. And then I saw it: A rotten cucumber, throwing my salad plan out the window as my daughter won’t touch a salad that does not have a her beloved cucumber in it. I still had carrots, red peppers, and sugar snap peas, and to tell you the truth, I really wasn’t in the mood for salad. I wanted a hot meal. I really would have liked someone else to cook for a change, but that never happens, so I had to come up with something. I always keep chicken in the house so I pulled it and the salad veggies out of the fridge, minus the lettuce, and got to planning. A stir-fry would use the fewest prep bowls and pans, which meant a quick clean up. If I were to make this on a day when it was supposed to be on the menu, I would have bought Boston or Bibb lettuce and use the lettuce as “cups” for the stir-fry – kind of like stir-fry tacos but with a vegetable shell. This time, I made brown rice.
I usually like to keep my ingredient list very short, but because I didn’t want to use a bottled sauce that might have had ingredients I didn’t want to serve to my family, I made my own sauce. Hence, the longer-than-normal ingredient list. And although it is long, the cooking time is short. Maybe ten minutes from first drop of oil in the pan to the first bite at the table. Trust me, it will be worth it…
Instead-of-Salad Chicken Stir-FryServes 4
1 lb chicken breast or tenderloins, cubed
1/4 tsp salt
3 tsp roasted peanut oil, divided
2 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce (I use a gluten-free version)
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp corn starch
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 cup minced yellow onion
1 cup carrots, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1/2 cup red pepper, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 cup stringless sugar snap peas
3 cloves garlic, minced
cooking oil spray
(Here is a printable version of the recipe)
Place the cubed chicken in a bowl and coat with one teaspoon of roasted peanut oil and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, mix together the sauce ingredients: Vinegar, soy sauce, honey, corn starch, chicken broth, and ground ginger.
Heat a wok or large skillet on high heat and spray with cooking oil. Once hot, add 2 teaspoons of roasted peanut oil and swirl to coat. Add the chicken as spread out as much as possible and let it sear on one side, about 5 minutes. Do not stir during this time. Once the edges start to brown or the majority of the meat is opaque, turn and mix the chicken so that all sides are cooked, about 2 minutes.
Turn off heat, remove chicken from the pan and put the pan back on the burner. Put the chopped onions, minced garlic and crushed red pepper into the pan and turn the heat to low. Mix for about a minute to soften the onion but be careful not to burn the garlic. Once it is fragrant, add the rest of the vegetables, increase the heat back to high, and stir for a minute. Give the bowl of sauce a quick stir and then add it to the pan, and mix to coat the vegetables. The sauce should have thickened considerably. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Remove from the pan and enjoy!
This was such a quick and delicious dinner that my son had two servings and I had to stop him to save some for his dad! And it’s versatile too; you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand for your salad and enjoy in a stir-fry. Next time, I might add water chestnuts or celery for some extra crunch. The vegetable combinations have endless possibilities. Tell me, do you plan on making it like I did, or will you add your favorite veggie to the mix?