Aaaaannnddd we’re back with the next couple of Busy Season Dinners! And since we’re all extra broke this week (don’t lie!), I’m sharing TWO recipes! Just so happens that these two dishes share almost exactly the same ingredients so to stretch our wallets (and the last vestiges of our dignity), why not make double the variation? The first is a twist on the buffalo chicken salad and/or a regular chicken pasta with red chilli flake-dusted chicken breast and summer squash “pappardelle” (more on that later) over some greens. The second, for those colder nights (y’all heard about yet another storm coming in this weekend?! Apocalpyse is nigh!), is a plain Lugaw, or rice porridge (similar to congee), topped with chicken breast that’s seasoned a little bit differently and summer squash chunks. They’re similar enough to share costs yet different enough so that you won’t feel like you’re eating the same dish day in, day out.
Note that the first set of ingredients covers both dishes (ie. They’re in double amounts so if you only want to make one type of dish, split the measurements in half). It’s probably late by the time you’re reading this and being offline for this long has your Senior missing you more than the significant other you forgot you had so, double time (pun well intended, poorly executed)!
4 chicken breasts (you know the drill…Cage-free, Antibiotic –free, Vegetarian diet. No effin’ around with that mutant stuff!), cut into strips
3 – 4 summer squash
2 cups of mushrooms, quartered
1 red onion, halved and sliced thinly
4 – 5 cloves garlic, minced
1 bag spinach or preferred greens (that triple-washed stuff you find at Trader Joe’s…otherwise, buying the individual bunches works fine. If so, you’ve got time and you’re not really on Busy Season…poser.)
Additional Ingredients for the Chicken Salad:
Red Chilli Flakes
Salt & Pepper
Blue Cheese (opt.)
Additional Ingredients for the Lugaw:
1 cup rice
Red Chilli Oil/Sriracha/similar condiment
1 knob Ginger, thinly sliced
Sesame/Peanut Oil (opt.)
Steps for the Chicken Salad:
1) You know you’ve been binging on bagels ever since you’ve lost the time to make a proper breakfast so to balance out your horrendous carb intake, we’re making faux “pappardelle”, usually a large, flat, and very broad pasta. To do this, take a washed summer squash in one hand, and with a vegetable peeler, start peeling (duh), continuously turning the squash. Once all the skin’s gone, keep “peeling” the squash into strips until you get to the tougher core, set aside what now looks like a pile of “pasta” and season with a bit of salt and pepper.
2) In a pan over medium high, saute ½ the red onion and garlic for a minute or so.
3) Add the mushrooms and cook until almost fully brown. As this happens, season half your chicken with salt, pepper, cayenne, and red chilli flakes.
4) Toss in your chicken with the mushrooms and cook until the chicken is done, set everything aside on a plate.
5) Reduce the heat to medium and toss in your squash papperdelle, adding oil to the pan if necessary). Once the strips soften up a bit, squeeze a bit of the lemon on top.
6) Plate by piling the squash on top of some greens and then adding the chicken and blue cheese chunks on top of that. Squeeze a bit of lemon (or douse the whole thing with ranch dressing if you’re that depressed) and off you go!
Steps for the Lugaw:
1) Rice porridge takes time so we start with that. Wash your rice thorougly and cook it as you normally would using the “pot method” (ie. The real, old-school, “who-needs-a-$5,000-rice-cooker” method: Put the rice in pot and then fill with water so that when you dip your index finger to touch the top of the rice, the water goes up until the first knuckle) over high heat. Once it begins to boil, lower to medium low, cover, and let sit.
2) It’s important to check your rice once in a while. If there’s barely any water left, add about a cup or two of water to keep the rice submerged. Cook in this way until the rice begins to resemble a thick soup. Stir frequently as well to break up the rice grains.
3) Meanwhile, season your chicken with salt, pepper, chili oil, and cumin. Chop your squash into 1” thick chunks as well.
4) Similar to the first dish, cook your onions, garlic, and mushrooms but now add ginger to the mix to get a little more heat and zing. To really get a distinct flavor, cook everything in peanut oil. Set aside when done.
5) Saute the chicken (to really get the right feels for the dish, cook this in a wok…but who are you really fooling? It’s all the same!) and once it’s just about to be done, drizzle a bit of soy sauce and more red chili oil (if necessary).
6) At this point, your porridge might have a tad bit more to go. In that case, saute your squash and wilt some of the spinach in the same manner as above. The hard part’s over!
7) To plate, ladle some lugaw into your bowl, top with a bit of greens and squash, then the chicken. Drizzle a little soy sauce and sprinkle some sesame seeds and/or peanuts on top and you’re on your way to mid-Busy Season recovery!