Sorry Charlie, Peanuts are for eating, not for reading: Peanut Chicken Stirfry

Oh bother.

Since I was on my own tonight while Josh was out at a super exciting computer society meeting, I figured I’d make myself a very easy one pot Asian-inspired dish that Josh actually loves but never wants: peanut chicken stirfry.

Consider this less of a recipe, more of a guideline.  Actually, consider everything I write a guideline.  In fact, consider everything I don’t write a guideline too.  Just in case.

Anyway, I love this dish because it’s fast and delicious and only really requires one pot.  And you can swap all sorts of things in and out.  Basically what it is is a pasta dish with vegetables and meat and a creamy peanut butter sauce.  Let me tell you, it might sound odd, but if there’s one way to get your kids (and yourself) to eat vegetables, it’s to smother them in peanut butter.  Trust me.

Let’s start with the basics.  Choose a pasta type.  Any long-strang pasta will work—you can use a soba or buckwheat or rice noodle if you want, but I actually prefer using whole wheat linguine.  I love whole wheat pasta; it takes a minute or two longer to cook but it’s got this nice nutty flavor and it’s more filling.  I usually make about 3oz per person.  Cook the pasta as directed on the package.

While the pasta is on, get your veggies ready.  Generally I throw in whatever I have; my favorites are edamame, shredded or thinly sliced carrots, shredded or thinly sliced zucchini, thinly sliced red bell pepper, broccoli florets,  bok choy and spinach.  Tonight I had carrots, bell pepper and broccoli and I use at least a half cup of each per person.

In the last couple minutes of the pasta’s cook time add the veggies to the pan.  This will help brighten their color and soften them just a bit; you still want them to have a nice crunch but not be totally raw.  Pour the pasta and veggies into a colander and drain.

Now the protein.  This dish is good for tofu, chicken (obviously) and pork.  You could use beef but I myself have not yet come around to the peanut butter beef philosophy, so that’s up to you.  3-4oz per person is good, you just want the meat that you choose to be thinly sliced so that it cooks quickly.  Tonight I went with boneless skinless chicken breast.  Often, to make this dish even faster, I just buy a rotisserie chicken from the store and pull the meat off and use that.  It’s fantastic.

So put the pasta pan back on the stove, jack the heat up to high and add in a couple tablespoons of peanut or canola oil and then add in your protein (if you’re not using pre-cooked, that is).  Season (salt, pepper, any spices you like) and stirfry the meat, stirring often, until browned and cooked through.  Spoon the meat out of the pan and set aside.

Now, turn the heat on the pan down to medium low and add in 2-3 good tablespoons of peanut butter and let it slowly melt.  Add to that a couple tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, a dash of soy sauce and then a bit of water to thin it out as needed, as well as any spices you like—I generally stick with a bit of salt, a lot of black pepper and a healthy dose of red pepper flake because peanuts and spicy things love each other.  Stir until the sauce has turned smooth and creamy.

Add in your veggies and proteins and toss in the sauce, coating thoroughly.  Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and/or scallions if you like.  Ooh and aah.  Serve and eat!



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