Cashew Ginger Chicken Stir Fry & a Secret Method for Perfect Basmati Rice

Happy 2012! I love the beginning of a new year; it’s a wonderful time to start fresh in a myriad of different ways. That’s exactly what I had in mind when I was planning our dinner tonight ………………..

I wanted something light (I ate a little way too much over the holidays), fresh (I had a few too many sweet treats and heavy foods), inexpensive (I’ve gone a bit a lot over my budget lately) and simple (labor intensive was not on my docket for today).

Is there anyone out there who can identify? If so, this is the perfect recipe for you! It’s loaded with vibrant flavors and delicious fresh, lightly cooked veggies. It’s fairly low in fat and calories and if you can find a super sale on red and yellow peppers like I did, it’s a very economical dish since you can get by with just one pound of chicken serving four people, quite generously. Other than chopping the veggies, the recipe comes together in minutes and makes great leftovers! What more could you ask for? For me, the perfect prescription for starting the New Year!

P.S. Basmati rice can be a bit finicky and calls for lengthy soaking and numerous rinses in cold water. Most recipes also call for a rice cooker in order to ensure success. I found this method many years ago and it comes out perfect every time…………….. in the MICROWAVE!! Yes, you heard correctly – I think it’s much better than traditional basmati prepared on the stovetop and if you can measure the rice and water, push a button or two on the microwave, you’ll have this rice finished before you can even cut up the veggies and chicken for the stir fry!


Cashew Ginger Chicken Stir Fry

4 teaspoons dark sesame oil, divided
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Sriracha or chile paste
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 cup diagonally cut snow peas
1 medium vertically sliced onion
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
2 cups hot cooked long-grain white rice, see recipe
¼ cup (1-inch) slices green onions
½ cup salted cashew halves and pieces

1. Combine 3 teaspoons sesame oil and next 7 ingredients (through the cornstarch) in a small bowl. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 tablespoon canola oil; swirl. Add chicken; stir-fry 3 minutes. Remove chicken from pan.

2. Add remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil; swirl. Add bell peppers and next 4 ingredients (through garlic); stir-fry 1 minute. Add chicken and  broth mixture and bring to a simmer; cook 3 minutes or until chicken is done. Spoon 1/2 cup rice onto each of 4 plates; top each with 1 cup of chicken mixture and a sprinkle of green onions and cashews.

Adapted from Cooking Light January 2012


Super Simple Perfect Basmati Rice

2 cups basmati rice
3 cups water

Place rice and water in a 3-quart microwavable dish (use one with a lid if you have one – otherwise you can cover with plastic wrap). Cook on high, uncovered for 15 minutes or until steam holes appear on the rice (some microwaves are hotter and cook faster than others). Cover and cook on high 5 more minutes. Let sit, covered another 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork and serve.

This rice recipe will make more than you need for the above stir fry, but this keeps well and makes wonderful fried rice. Check out this recipe!


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