Friday, May 18, 2012

Farm Fridays: Chicken Chow Mein with Spring Vegetables

Welcome to my new feature: farm Fridays! I spent my winter thinking about how I could integrate my CSA, Honey Brook Organic Farm, into my blog more effectively. I knew I wanted to move toward offering seasonal recipes. What better way than to blog about my CSA share each week?

So here's the plan: I'll be picking up my share on Friday mornings, going home to plan a menu, doing my grocery shopping for the week, then cooking up something tasty for dinner from the day's produce and blogging about it. While it sounds like a lot of work, it's pretty much what I would do anyway - I'm just adding a deadline for myself. Hopefully, this will help out my fellow CSA members who may be mystified by their piles of produce each week.

Speaking of piles of produce, this is a picture of my haul for this week. My kitchen is currently buried in leaves: lettuce, arugula, bok choy and spinach (and this picture doesn't even show half of my spinach - two pounds is a lot! I can't imagine what people with family shares are doing with four pounds!) There are also some leeks, so it's not a total leaf monopoly. I went out and picked some herbs as well - parsley and garlic chives - which I'm going to use in a lovely cold potato salad tomorrow. I love that potato salad, so it may be making it to the blog soon!

When I was looking for something to make today, I immediately fixed in on the baby bok choy. It's so cute and perky. I knew I could find something delicious to do with it. I settled on this chicken chow mein from Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Food Revolution. I have been loving this cookbook lately (my awesome potato salad comes from there as well!). Jamie Oliver's attitude toward cooking is really laid back. His cookbooks don't contain precise measurements and he offers lots of suggestions about substitutions and extra twists you can put on each dish. Perhaps that is what inspired me this morning, because I played around with this recipe quite a bit, taking inspiration from the fresh spring produce sitting in my fridge. The result, as you will see, was fantastic. I only wish it used a bit more of my bok choy!

Note on servings: the original recipe says it serves two, but we had a whole serving of the meat and veggies left over. If you want to stretch it out for three, you may want to cook 6 oz of noodles and some extra baby bok choy. 

Chicken Chow Mein with Spring Vegetables
Adapted from Jamie's Food Revolution.

1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced (about a thumb-sized piece)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chile pepper, minced (I used a green cayenne I had frozen from my garden last fall - remove the seeds if you don't want a really hot dish)
1 1/2-2 tbsp peanut oil
1 chicken breast, sliced into thin strips and seasoned with salt and pepper (6-8 oz)
2 spring onions, chopped, tops and bottoms separated
4 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
6 baby bok choy 
8 oz asparagus, chopped into 2" segments
4 oz chow mein noodles (or linguine, if you can't find them at the store, like me!)
1 tsp cornstarch
8 oz can water chestnuts (don't drain it - you'll need the water too)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 lime, juice only

Put a large pot of salted water to boil for the noodles. (The recipe says to cook the chow mein noodles 3-4 minutes, but my linguine took 12. Check the package directions and make sure you have enough time, since the rest of the cooking is quick and you don't want your food getting cold!) Add the noodles and cook for the allotted time. About 2 minutes before the noodles are done, toss in the bok choy and asparagus. When everything is done, scoop them off the top and set them aside, then drain the noodles in a colander.

Meanwhile, heat a large wok over high heat. Add the peanut oil and swirl to coat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until cooked through and slightly browned.

Add the ginger, garlic, chile and mushrooms and the white part of the spring onions. Stir-fry for another minute or so, stirring constantly. Then add the cornstarch, water chestnuts and their water to the wok. Stir well to combine everything. Make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the wok, then remove it from the heat.

Add the soy sauce, lime juice and boiled asparagus to the pan and toss everything to combine. Serve over noodles, with bok choy on the side.

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