Wednesday, July 7, 2010

RECIPE: CSA "Take Out" Thai Chicken Noodles

My favorite recipes are the ones that create food that fool you into thinking they are horrible for you.  Honestly, I'll take a plate of pork belly with salted shrimp and cabbage  (a Korean fave) over a bowl of oatmeal any day.  But there's a serious misconception that good food HAS to be bad for you.  I'm not going to promise you a healthy donut or fat free pork belly (are you listening God, it's me, Virginia)...but a healthy stir fry recipe can always deter me from stuffing my face with greasy take out (sometimes).

The recipe below for me, was a two-fer.  I not only recreated one of my favorite Thai takeout meals BUT used several CSA ingredients from our weekly share (fresh, local, organic: green beans, basil, cilantro, cucumber, carrots).  I subbed out veggie oil for grape seed oil. Grape seed oil is a great alternative to olive oil.  Nutritionally, they are basically twins (though if you are in need of some Omega 3, look into adding flax or just stick to the olive oil), but their personalities are quite different.  Grape seed oil, though has a slight grapey aroma, lacks the strong olive taste of extra virgin olive oil.  It also has a higher smoking point, which makes grape seed oil more preferable for frying, and in this case, sauté-ing at a high heat.


Thai Chicken Noodles
Serves 4

Around 1/2 lb of whole wheat spaghetti, enough to make about 2-3 cups cooked  (2 cups of brown rice can also be substituted)
1 TB grape seed oil
2 chicken breast halves, sliced thin
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1/2 medium onion, chopped
Handful of fresh green beans, trimmed
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
Handful of fresh basil, julienned
1 TB of fresh cilantro, chopped
1 TB fresh mint, chopped (optional)
1 lime, juiced
1/2 TB red pepper flakes
2-3 tsp fish sauce (don't be scared!)
1 TB low sodium soy sauce
Fresh ground black pepper

Boil water in a large pot.  Add pasta.  In a large, deep skillet or wok, heat oil on medium, about 1 minute.  Add red pepper flakes, raise heat to medium high, about another minute.  Brown sliced chicken until cooked.  Throw in onions and garlic.  Stir until onions slightly soften.  Add carrots, bell pepper, and green onion.  Continuously stir to prevent burning and sticking.  When green beans have softened a little, add al dente pasta.  Reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water in case you like a saucier dish..I find the moisture from the pasta is just fine, especially of you take the pasta right form the pot instead of draining it first.  Combine all ingredients well.  Add tomatoes, fish sauce, soy sauce, basil, cilantro, mint and lime.  Mix well, taste and adjust by adding more fish sauce or soy sauce.  Garnish with cold cucumbers.

Notes: Want to make chicken slicing less slimy and easier to prep?  Pop the chicken into the freezer about 1/2 hour before you plan on prepping it.  Freezing the chicken just a touch firms it up so it's easier to slice.