lunchbox life: chinese quinoa skillet with veggies and black bean garlic sauce

image1(10)Have you ever looked inside your refrigerator and thought, “man, I really meant to use (ingredient) this week”? Sometimes life gets in the way, you have a busy week or weekend, or you simply over order for your weekly CSA box. I’m especially sensitive to making sure I use all of my produce. I absolutely hate to throw away fruit and vegetables, so when I was brainstorming for this week’s lunchbox life, I peeked into our refrigerator and saw some good looking veggies from our CSA: a bag of spinach, three broccoli crowns, and two ears of corn. I also spotted 1/2 an onion in a plastic container on the top shelf, a package of quinoa in the pantry, and some chicken breast in the freezer. Now I just needed figure out a flavor profile…Mexican? Cheesy and hearty? Asian? I saw a half full jar of Chinese black bean and garlic sauce in the refrigerator door and knew I had found my idea.

Chinese black bean sauce is this salty, earthy, garlicky, dark, thick, and gooey delight. It’s like a savory molasses, really. It’s a great mix-in for lean protein and vegetables, especially if you crisp them up in a wok or deep pan first. You could serve this with white or brown rice, but I opted to make it with quinoa for added protein and went ahead and mixed it in in the style of fried rice.

You could use many different combinations of veggies with this dish, but you should definitely use an onion to start with to give a base flavor and to soak of the seasoning from the chicken.

Chinese Quinoa Skillet with Veggies and Black Bean Garlic Sauce

1 cup dry quinoa

2 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. ginger

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp white pepper

1/2 onion, peeled and sliced thinly

1 red bell pepper, stem and ribs removed, diced

1 Tbsp. canola oil

3 broccoli crowns, thick stems removed and torn into single stems

2 ears of corn, kernels sliced off

3 cups fresh spinach

4 Tbsp. black bean garlic sauce

Cook the quinoa according to package directions. Heat the oil in a wok or deep skillet over high heat for about 2 minutes, then add the onions and bell pepper. Season the chicken with the garlic, ginger, salt, and white pepper. When the onion and bell pepper have cooked for about 5 minutes, add the chicken and stir to combine with onion and bell pepper. Stir the chicken and veggies after about 3 minutes, then cook for about 1 more minute. Add the broccoli and corn and cook for about 2 minutes. Next, add the spinach in handfuls and stir continually while it shrinks. Add the black bean garlic sauce and stir to combine, then add the quinoa and toss throughout the vegetables and chicken. Divide evenly between five plastic containers and enjoy all week long!

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