The thought, “Could I make this at home?” has crossed my mind when eating at a Chinese restaurant.
When it does, I then think, “Maybe, but why would I? This is easier.”
Cooking is a daunting prospect to me. All I’ve ever cooked for myself is steak and eggs and… yeah, that’s about it. But a one pan broccoli cashew chicken recipe I made recently wasn’t too hard to tackle.
In the few times I have cooked, I’ve learned that homemade tastes pretty good. Cashew chicken is one of my favorite Chinese dishes, so I figured I would give it a try. A family friend offered up her recipe, which I altered a bit after researching recipes online.
I recommend making this cashew chicken if, like me, you’re a newbie in the kitchen, you’re on a paleo diet or if you don’t like recipes that involve a lot of preparation. This one’s definitely quick.
Though it’s not quite as simple as tossing all of the ingredients into a pan, the recipe is straightforward and easy. Trust me, if I can pull it off, anyone can.
It takes about 30 minutes to make. If you’re proficient in the kitchen, I bet you could cut that time down. I’m still getting the hang of chopping with large knives and stirring to keep food from sticking in the pan.
Since I’m still new to this cooking thing, I had sous chef in the kitchen. Hey, I’m no Gordon Ramsay — yet. My dad, who starred in a previous story about my family’s quick and hearty soup, was my assistant. I’m happy to say I took the lead in the kitchen this time.
We split up the duties: I did most of the chopping and measuring; Dad kept a watchful eye and helped whenever I needed a hand.
This recipe for cashew chicken has some surprises. While it has the basics of the classic dish — chicken, cashews, broccoli, ginger and garlic — it also calls for coconut aminos and honey.
Notice that it didn’t call for hoisin or soy sauce. You won’t miss it. Coconut aminos is a great substitute sauce, especially for anybody on a paleo diet. (What’s the paleo diet? If a caveman didn’t eat it, neither should you.) The salty-sweet sauce actually rose to popularity because of the paleo diet.
In fact, this entire recipe is perfect for the hunting-and-gathering type of diet: It doesn’t include a side of rice and, because it swaps soy sauce for coconut aminos, it’s lower in sodium.
Here are some tips, which I learned through trial and error.
Chop the chicken into cubes for the best results. Speaking of chopping, if you have pre-minced garlic, this recipe will be even easier.
Add plenty of cashews if you want it to be protein rich. My dad had a good idea of roasting them in the oven. We did that before all other preparations. You can also wait to brown them in the pan with the broccoli; browning them gives the nuts more of a crunch.
The recipe calls for your choice of a healthy fat. I chose olive oil to stick with the paleo-diet route.
I expected to stumble along the way, but this recipe wasn’t challenging. Maybe cooking isn’t so bad after all?
The chicken was slightly crispy, which I really liked, and the broccoli, coated with sauce and broth, was a flavorful new way to eat the vegetable.
My twin brother was my taste tester. He was expecting the sauce to make the dish, but said he enjoyed how the garlic complemented the chicken.
“I like how it has a kick to it on the backend,” he said.
If I were to make it again, I probably would have added more honey to sweeten it up. My dad, ever the optimist in the kitchen, was happy with the result.
“That is dangerously good,” he said. “That was fun and easy.”
I’m ready to tackle another recipe.
Evan Thompson: 360-544-2999, firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @evanthompson_1.
One pan broccoli cashew chicken
2 boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
2 tablespoons ghee, avocado oil or olive oil
1-inch ginger chuck, grated or finely minced (about 1 tablespoon)
5 garlic cloves, finely minced
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup roasted cashews
2 cups broccoli florets
½ cup bone broth
¼ cup coconut aminos
2 tablespoons honey
Add a healthy fat of your choice to a pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger, stirring occasionally for 1 minute.
Add the chicken and season with sea salt, stirring occasionally for 3 to 4 minutes until there is no more pink in the chicken. Add the cashews and broccoli, stirring occasionally for 1 minute.
Add the bone broth, coconut aminos and honey, stirring occasionally for 9 minutes or until the sauce has slightly thickened, the broccoli is tender and chicken is cooked through.
Remove from heat and allow to rest for a couple of minutes, then serve immediately.
Makes four servings. Nutrition per serving: 463 calories, 30.3 grams protein, 25.1 grams carbohydrates, 28.6 grams fat, 5.7 grams saturated fat, 59 milligrams cholesterol, 325 milligrams sodium, 2.5 grams dietary fiber, 11.2 grams sugar.
— Recipe adapted from www.recipestonourish.com.