Wednesday, May 1, 2013

One Pot Meals - Yummy Chicken with Squash, Quinoa and Popcorn

During the week, as much as I love a quick meal, I also love an easy to clean meal. Especially since our dishwasher died the other day. I used to hate the idea of dishwashers. I thought they were a pointless waste of time and money. When we bought our house, it had a dishwasher already and in the first year or so of living there, we only ever used it about 4 times. They were when we had a big dinner party that used pretty much our whole cupboard at once. I'm not sure why, but sometime after that first year, something changed and we started using it all the time. There's only the two of us, so generally it takes 4 days or so to fill - but it's awesome. A revelation. So much of my life was being wasted at the sink! And now it's broken, and folks, you can't go back. It's impossible. So I'll be spending the next few weekends shopping for a replacement. My husband scratched up his hands cleaning the gutters, so he currently can't help with the dishes - but he does massage my shoulders while I do. A fair compromise, I think!

Until the dishwasher is replaced, I'm leaning towards cooking everything outside on the BBQ, or making one pot/pan dishes. Like this one. The flavours for this were inspired by a dish my aunt makes that she calls something technical like yummy chicken sauce. It's basically a mixture of whole-seed mustard and peanut butter, that she puts in the pan as she cooks her chicken breasts. It is yummy, so it's well named. I've changed it up a bit to allow for the extra liquid required to cook the quinoa. And added the veges so it all cooks together in the one pan. I swapped peanut butter for cashews, used a different mustard and added maple syrup. So, it's not exactly 'yummy chicken', but it is yummy chicken. I only tell you all of these substitutions, because I remember her once offering me a slice of carrot and walnut cake. Only she didn't have carrot, so she used zucchini. And she didn't have walnuts, so she used pecans. But it was still a 'carrot and walnut cake'. So I think she'd be ok with my substitutions.

And, in a fit of pure craving-based inspiration, I topped it off with fresh plain popcorn. Did you know you can cook plain kernels in a plain paper bag in the microwave? Chuck 1/4 cup or so in, fold the top down a few times so it 'seals' then put it in the microwave for 2 minutes. Done. No oil, no nothing else required. Which is perfect for this dish, because you get all your flavours from the sauce, and it remains a one pot meal. The popcorn is not necessary, but totally worth it.

One Pot Meals - Yummy Chicken with Squash, Quinoa and Popcorn

Yummy Chicken with Squash, Quinoa and Popcorn

2 tbsp rice bran oil
1 brown onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp dried thyme
4 chicken thigh fillets, cut into medium-ish strips
6 yellow squash, large diced (I cut each into 8 bits)
Half a zucchini, large diced
quarter of a cabbage, thinly sliced
2/3 cup cashews, roughly chopped
4 heaped teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup quinoa (I used black, but whatever you've got)
1 1/2 cups more water
parsley, finely chopped for garnish
1 cup popped plain popcorn

Heat the oil in a tagine or deep frypan with a lid. Add the onion and garlic, cook for a few minutes until translucent. Add the thyme and mix through the onion.

Add the chicken to the pan and brown on all sides, a few minutes per side. Add the vegetables and mix through.

In a jar with a tight fitting lid, add mustard, maple syrup, 1/2 cup of water and apple cider vinegar. Shake well to mix completely. Pour into pan. Rinse out with the extra 1 1/2 cups of water, pour into pan.

Add the quinoa and cashews, then mix it all through really well. Put the lid on and allow to cook for 15 minutes or so, until the quinoa is done. Check for seasoning. If it's still a bit liquidy, leave the lid off and reduce it down for a few minutes.

Serve with a sprinkling of parsley and a handful of the plain popcorn.

One Pot Meals - Yummy Chicken with Squash, Quinoa and Popcorn