I love the great wealth and variety of summer vegetables but get tired of salads or raw veggies only. Despite the heat of summer, some kind of meat and cooked vegetables are a must but who wants to spend a long time in a hot kitchen on even hotter days? One pot/skillet meals are a great answer and one of the best ones I have concocted lately is a quick and easy ginger chicken and kale combination.
Take two boneless chicken breasts [which you can marinate in whatever sauces you might prefer for thirty or forty minutes] and cut into bite size chunks. Using a deep sided skillet, cook the chicken in an oil of your choice [I prefer plain vegetable oil with a little butter and a half cup of low sodium chicken broth]. While your chicken is simmering, chop up any of your denser vegetables and begin to boil them in some lightly salted water. Since I am a fanatic about carrots for both the color and taste, I cook these and set them aside. Cook your chicken for about ten minutes and check one of the large pieces with a meat thermometer to make sure they are done [at least 140 degrees]. Since you are cooking your chicken in liquid, it will remain tender even if slightly overcooked, so don’t be concerned.
What I call “flavorings” should be readied in advance and added as the chicken cooks. Grate fresh ginger [about a tablespoon], mince two large cloves of garlic and add to the meat. I also like to include a dash of sesame oil and a dash of red pepper flakes – the last provides a good contrast to the sweeter ginger and sesame. Be careful with the sesame oil which is quite potent – it can be eliminated if you don’t like it. For me, this combination makes a sauce which is very reminiscent of Thai dishes.
While all this is simmering away, prepare your other veggies which don’t need pre-cooking. Red bell peppers are a must for their sweet flavor and delightful color, and always onions. Otherwise, use whatever else you like. Chop up your fresh kale [remove the thicker stems if you prefer] and drop into the chicken mixture along with the peppers and onions. The kale remains a deep green and contrasts beautifully with the red and orange carrots and peppers. Let these simmer together for a few minutes until the kale wilts [it will remain firm unlike spinach] and you are finished. For a thicker sauce, mix a tablespoon of corn starch with milk and/or coconut milk and add as the chicken and veggies simmer. This makes a wonderful meal all by itself but you can also serve over rice and maybe some spicy noodles for a more Oriental vibe.
–Photo and story by Dick Funderburke