Quick. Easy. Simple. Delicious. Nutritious. All perfect ways to describe this well balanced meal. You’ve got your lean protein, whole grain starch, vegetables and healthy fats. The difference with this meal is that I simply baked everything, there are really no recipes here. I normally shy away from prepared items because I like knowing and controlling what goes into my food, but this dinner was perfect and I feel as if I couldn’t have done any better. I will, however, share with you the components of this meal and where to find them. However, I urge you to try making these items yourself and share the results!
To start off the past weekend in San Francisco, I ventured into Whole Foods and found a pre-made “Garlic Basil Polenta” from Food Merchants. I’d been meaning to try polenta for a while now and I love garlic in anything so this seemed like a no-brainer. The great thing about this package is that it stays good for a while until opened. I figure I’ll make homemade polenta next time around (favorite recipes anyone?).
Then, a quick stop at Trader Joe’s on the way home to pick up some “Curry Chicken Tenders”, a bright yellow package of perfectly seasoned and marinated chicken tenders. Pre-seasoned meats are usually pretty harmless and in this case they are especially delicious.
I had made the chicken tenders once before and they were great but needed some sort of sauce, preferably a dipping sauce – here’s where the good stuff comes in. Curry is used in many cuisines but one that I’m particularly fond of is Thai cuisine. My favorite Thai dish of all time is, you guessed it, peanut sauce. Why not combine the two? The only problem is that I don’t have a good recipe for peanut sauce – I’ve tried two different ones and was thoroughly disappointed (recipes anyone?). I don’t like pre-made sauces, but I do have a favorite “Peanut Sauce Mix” by A Taste of Thai. The package has two inner envelopes so you can make one at a time (although they don’t mention that on the package). It calls for using a 13.5 oz can of coconut milk, which dribbles down to just over 3/4 cup per envelope. Coconut milk, while more authentic, is high in fat and my preferred replacement is light vanilla soymilk. Somehow, the vanilla makes up for the lack of coconut flavor which is not missed one bit.
As the Peanut Butter Boy, I feel ashamed not making my own peanut sauce, but the mix is so darn simple and tasty. Plus, it beats getting 14 ingredients together including not-on-hand-oddities like fish sauce and getting it ready in time while 3 other items are cooking simultaneously. Read on to see the components of this superb store-bought dinner.
1 package Curry Chicken Tenders (Trader Joe’s)
1 package Garlic Basil Polenta (Food Merchants)
1lb asparagus spears
1 envelope Peanut Sauce Mix (A Taste of Thai)
1/2 cup light vanilla soymilk (Vitasoy)
2T creamy natural peanut butter
1t olive oil
kosher salt (medium grain)
1t honey (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse asparagus and dry completely. Pour about 1tsp olive oil into the palm of your hand and grab half of the asparagus with the other hand. Coat the asparagus spears with oil using your hands and place on a baking sheet in one layer. Grab the other half of the asparagus and coat with the remaining oil on your hands. Once all of the asparagus is on the sheet, generously sprinkle with salt. Bake at 375 for about 15-20 minutes, or until very tender.
2. Cook chicken tenders via preferred method. I grill them on my George Foreman grill for 6-7 minutes at 350 degrees, but a regular grill or oven work just as well.
3. In a small saucepan heat peanut sauce mix, soymilk, peanut butter and honey to a boil. Turn down to low and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Turn off heat and let thicken.
4. Place a skillet over medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. Cut polenta into 1/3″ thick slices and place in the skillet. Spray the top of the polenta with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Cook about 3-5 minutes per side, or until crispy and browned on both sides.
If you time it right you can enjoy everything hot! I got lucky with the timing, but if you need to choose, make sure the polenta is hot and crispy, you can always microwave the chicken and asparagus.