Boy, did I phone it in with the food-styling today or what? No utensils, napkins, or props of any kind. Just dinner. In a stark white bowl. On a placemat. A lonely, lonely placemat. That's why they pay me the big bucks!
My farmshare just started up this week and you know what that means: Time to get your stir-fries and salads on! This chicken and cashew stir-fry is a favorite. Unlike the typical restaurant version, with water chestnuts, green peppers, and a cornstarch-thickened sauce, this is more of a home-style dish with plenty of fresh ginger and a hit of Sriracha for some heat. Feel free to dial up or tone down the spice as you see fit (it comes in around medium as written).
We like this stir-fry with snow peas and scallions—perfect for this time of year— but it can be adapted based on whatever other spring vegetables you have on hand. For example, chop up garlic scapes instead of the garlic cloves. You could add a few handfuls of spinach or tatsoi to the mix at the tail end of cooking so the greens wilt into the sauce. Or you could slice up some bok choy for a water-chestnut-like crunch. Serve this healthy meal with white or brown rice (this is where my trusty rice cooker comes in handy).
By the way, I'm sure we've all heard about the high levels of arsenic that Consumer Reports found in both white and brown rice last fall. Arsenic is a naturally occurring toxin and known carcinogen. It has nevertheless been widely used as a pesticide and livestock feed additive (hooray!). Read the report if you want more info, but basically we're going easy on the rice in this house. Rinsing it thoroughly before cooking is recommended. Yes, the water washes away some of the nutrition, but it also washes away some of the arsenic. Another alternative is to buy other whole grains like barley or farro from trusted local farms and cook those up instead. They're delicious with stir-fries even if they're non-traditional.
Chicken and Cashew Stir-Fry
We use roasted, lightly salted cashews for this—the same ones we snack on. Feel free to use unsalted nuts if you're watching your sodium intake. If you don't have Sriracha hot sauce, you can chop up a few hot peppers of your choice.
1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 pound chicken breast, cut into thin 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, cut in half pole-to-pole, sliced into thick wedges through poles
4 scallions (light parts chopped, dark parts cut into 1-inch lengths)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
8 ounces snow peas
1 cup cashews
For the sauce, whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken pieces with about 2 tablespoons of the sauce and let them marinate while preparing the other ingredients.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the chicken pieces and stir-fry until browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove the chicken to a shallow bowl. Add the onions to the hot pan and toss for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chopped scallions, garlic, and ginger, and stir-fry 1 minute more (don't let the garlic burn). Add the snow peas, cashews, cooked chicken, reserved scallion shoots, and remaining marinade to the pan. Cook, stirring often, a few minutes more until the ingredients are heated through but the peas are still slightly crisp and bright green. Remove from the heat and season with salt (sparingly) and black pepper (generously) to your taste. Serves 4.
Source: Inspired by Lisa Schumacher's recipe in the Chicago Tribune