Easy weeknight cashew chicken recipe is gluten free and dairy free

Weeknight Cashew Chicken

May 28, 2014 by Michelle

An interesting dynamic in my home crops up periodically when it’s getting near a mealtime, and I don’t have something already in the works – at least visibly to my husband. He panics and asks if we need to go out to eat or order something. I smile and know that I have something planned, but it’s just something that doesn’t take all day to cook, so I can whip it out in a half hour or so. It flummoxes him, but this is why weeknight recipes are invented. You don’t have a ton of time to cook, but you don’t want to order out because you don’t want to spend the money (or calories?) on it. Besides, I can make this homemade cashew chicken recipe in less time than it takes him to call the local Chinese restaurant, order it, pick it up, and be back with it for us to eat. It’s a win all around right?

Easy weeknight cashew chicken recipe is gluten free and dairy free

I love recipes that are easy but still have a ton of flavor and aren’t the same old standbys – chicken I’ve cooked in a crockpot all day, spaghetti and meatballs, a quick chicken soup, and the like. I love having variety in my diet, but frequently I want something more and different. This is one of those recipes that fits the bill perfectly. It’s so satisfying because it’s slightly sweet from the touch of sugar, while having plenty of umami from the soy and the fish sauce. Oh, and don’t forget the satisfying crunch from the carrots, snow peas, and – of course – the cashews. With all those variables, it means that I usually end up eating less of it because so many of my senses are engaged in eating it, and I’m satiated that much faster.

Best of all? The wee ones also love it. It gets two thumbs up from them, and they love taking the leftovers for lunch. Because of course there are leftovers. I design it that way. It’s another great way to introduce veggies into their diets without making it a “here, eat this vegetable” but rather naturally incorporating it into the meal. I feel like the more I can do that – have the veggies just be there without making an issue of them – the more they will get that vegetables are important not just because you have to eat them to be healthy but also because they provide a great addition to a meal.

When I make this, I use carrots and snow peas because they add great color to an otherwise bland looking (but so not bland tasting!) dish. I’m a huge fan of adding color where I can to make it more interesting. You could add your own preferred veggies in addition to – or in place of – these, from green peppers to sugar snap peas to baby corn to water chestnuts and more. That’s another fun part about dishes like this; you’re able to take it and play with it and make it your own. And of course, that’s one of the most fun parts about cooking, right?

Cashew Chicken

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lb chicken, deboned/boneless
1 T brown sugar
1 t fish sauce
2 t Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c chicken stock, divided
2 T cornstarch
2 carrots, julienned
3/4 c snow peas
3/4 c cashews, raw and unsalted

Directions:
Peel your garlic and mince. Add to a glass dish where you will marinate your chicken. Add the brown sugar, fish sauce, Worcestershire, soy sauce, and 1/4 cup of the chicken stock. Stir to combine.

If using frozen chicken, thaw it most of the way, but cut while still partly frozen. If using fresh chicken, pop it in the freezer for 10 minutes or so to solidify it just a bit. This makes it easier to cut into bite size pieces, remembering that your chicken will shrink a bit while cooking. Chunk all your chicken, and add it to the marinade you’ve made, stirring carefully to ensure all pieces are coated. Cover and stick in the fridge for a half hour up to three hours (or if you’re in a hurry, you can skip the marinating portion, no worries).

Marinating cashew chicken - a step you can skip when in a hurry

When you’re ready to cook, add the remaining 1/4 cup of chicken stock to a pan and turn the heat to medium. Add the chicken and marinade and cover for a few minutes to bring the heat up inside. You’ll poach your chicken for about 7-10 minutes, until it is cooked through.

Poach your chicken in the cooking liquid which includes your marinade

While your chicken is cooking, peel your carrots. Cut them into matchstick size pieces – cutting the carrot in half lengthwise, placing the cut side down and slicing thinly, then cutting them into 2 inch or so sections. Wash your snow peas and slice them in half. Although traditionally they’re served whole, I find it hard to fit them in my mouth that way and go for comfort over style in this dish.

Carrots and snow peas ready to add to cashew chicken

Once your chicken is cooked, place the cornstarch to a small bowl. Add a bit of cold water and use a fork to stir it together to make a slurry, adding more water if necessary. Add the slurry to your chicken mixture, stirring while you do so to ensure it gets incorporated. Bring to a slow boil for a couple minutes to thicken your sauce.

Add the cashews, snow peas, and most of the carrots, reserving a few for extra garnish. Stir together and turn off the heat. Let it sit just so the new ingredients get warm but don’t cook through – you want that crunchy texture. The time it takes to get out your plates to serve the chicken is long enough.

Cashew chicken is a healthy meal you can make on a weeknight to impress anyone

Serve immediately over rice.

Weeknight Cashew Chicken

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 6-8

Weeknight Cashew Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb chicken, deboned/boneless
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 t fish sauce
  • 2 t Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c chicken stock, divided
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 3/4 c snow peas
  • 3/4 c cashews, raw and unsalted

Instructions

  1. Peel your garlic and mince. Add to a glass dish where you will marinate your chicken. Add the brown sugar, fish sauce, Worcestershire, soy sauce, and 1/4 cup of the chicken stock. Stir to combine.
  2. If using frozen chicken, thaw it most of the way, but cut while still partly frozen. If using fresh chicken, pop it in the freezer for 10 minutes or so to solidify it just a bit. This makes it easier to cut into bite size pieces, remembering that your chicken will shrink a bit while cooking. Chunk all your chicken, and add it to the marinade you've made, stirring carefully to ensure all pieces are coated. Cover and stick in the fridge for a half hour up to three hours (or if you're in a hurry, you can skip the marinating portion, no worries).
  3. When you're ready to cook, add the remaining 1/4 cup of chicken stock to a pan and turn the heat to medium. Add the chicken and marinade and cover for a few minutes to bring the heat up inside. You'll poach your chicken for about 7-10 minutes, until it is cooked through.
  4. While your chicken is cooking, peel your carrots. Cut them into matchstick size pieces - cutting the carrot in half lengthwise, placing the cut side down and slicing thinly, then cutting them into 2 inch or so sections. Wash your snow peas and slice them in half. Although traditionally they're served whole, I find it hard to fit them in my mouth that way and go for comfort over style in this dish.
  5. Once your chicken is cooked, place the cornstarch to a small bowl. Add a bit of cold water and use a fork to stir it together to make a slurry, adding more water if necessary. Add the slurry to your chicken mixture, stirring while you do so to ensure it gets incorporated. Bring to a slow boil for a couple minutes to thicken your sauce.
  6. Add the cashews, snow peas, and most of the carrots, reserving a few for extra garnish. Stir together and turn off the heat. Let it sit just so the new ingredients get warm but don't cook through - you want that crunchy texture. The time it takes to get out your plates to serve the chicken is long enough.
  7. Serve immediately over rice.

Notes

When I make this, I use carrots and snow peas because they add great color to an otherwise bland looking (but so not bland tasting!) dish. I'm a huge fan of adding color where I can to make it more interesting. You could add your own preferred veggies in addition to - or in place of - these, from green peppers to sugar snap peas to baby corn to water chestnuts and more.

http://www.honestandtruly.com/weeknight-cashew-chicken-recipe/


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  • Aubree Cherie @ Living Free


    Thanks so much for adding this recipe to the last Naturally Sweet Tuesday! It looks simple, yet delicious. Hope to see you back this week too – the link up is live 🙂 ~Aubree

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