I’m in one of those phases where I will only consider a recipe if it takes less then 45 minutes to prepare and if it’s in one pan. I spent several weeks in April working on three different asparagus recipes with this goal in mind and this recipe was the favorite. Healthy was the other requirement. Which is why I’m an advocate of cooking with ingredients in their peak season.
Seasonal food means local. And more likely more nutritious because it has traveled a shorter distance and was picked closer to it’s best ripening time and developed it’s potential nutrients. And the flavor is always better when you are eating produce in its prime time. It’s also cheaper because of the abundance of availability when a food is in season.
If you’ve always considered asparagus a side dish, here is your chance to try it a different way – cut into short rods and used as a main ingredient along with bite size slices of chicken breast. Ground chicken can also be used for a shortcut to get it on the table faster. Using a large skillet (or a wok if you have one) makes the cooking process faster as there is more hot surface area for the ingredients to touch and cook. The four ingredient sauce made with a base of soy sauce and hoisin sauce and brightened with the distinct flavors of orange zest and sesame oil can be made ahead to save time. And the handful of crunchy peanuts and refreshing cilantro leaves stirred in at the end will seal the deal for this one to be in your regular meal rotation.
For a more substantial meal serve it over cooked farro, rice or quinoa.
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 12-16 ounces chicken breast, sliced into bite-size pieces (ground chicken breast can be substituted)
- 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed then cut into 1-2 inch pieces (see note for trimming asparagus)
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon sliced or chopped ginger
- 1 cup sliced celery (about 3 stalks)
- ⅓ cup unsalted or salted peanuts
- ½ cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
- For the sauce, whisk together soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil and orange zest.
- For the skillet, heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet or wok. Add chicken spreading around in a single layer covering as much of the pan as possible. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and cook several minutes to get good browning before stirring. Add ginger and stir and cook with chicken a few minutes until chicken is cooked through. Add asparagus and cook and stir until just "crisp-tender" about 3-4 minutes. Add celery and cook and stir just to soften 1 to 2 minutes. Add sauce and stir to coat all ingredients and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add peanuts and cilantro and stir to evenly mix. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.