It’s finally getting warm again in Cape Town. Which means it’s going from an average high of partly cloudy 62 to a sunny 75. Not exactly a huge jump, but I’m so, so excited. It’s almost like I haven’t been living in Portland all my life, where it goes from 90 degree summers to rainy, 50 degree rest-of-the-years. It’s supposed to rain a little more later this week, but it’s some of the last rain of the “winter”. And you better believe I’m hiking and beach-walking until that rain comes back. Fiance is getting into the nitty-gritty of writing his thesis, but I’m hoping that I can talk him into taking his laptop to a picnic table near the beach at Camp’s Bay at least a few days a week.
In other news: there are few things better than peanut sauce. This dish, which I’ve decided to dub “Pantry Pad Thai” is one of those beautiful things that came together with random ingredients in my kitchen on a night when I was lost for dinner inspiration.
It’s simply rice noodles, chicken breasts, frozen veggies, and bell peppers topped with chopped peanuts and a spicy, easy to throw together peanut sauce. That’s actually parsley on there, but it would have been cilantro if I could find it reliably here in Cape Town.
It cooked up really quickly, making this the ultimate weeknight dish. I love throwing frozen veggies into anything that’s saucy, so I’ve been doing it a lot with curries lately, too. If we’re being honest, frozen veggies are not all that great on their own, but here they can soak up the sauce and it doesn’t matter all that much. And then you can feel super good about yourself for eating veggies. You earned that pat on the back.
- 3 chicken breasts, cut into ½ inch by ½ inch cubes
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 cup frozen veggie mix (mine had broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, and green beans)
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
- ½ tsp minced garlic
- 12 oz pad thai or rice noodles
- ⅓ cup peanut butter
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- ¼ cayenne pepper
- ¼-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (use less if you’re sensitive to spice)
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- Chopped peanuts and cilantro for topping, if desired
- Make the sauce by combining all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Cook until peanut butter thins out and keep over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, while preparing the rest of the dish.
- Season the cut chicken breasts with salt and pepper. In a fry pan over medium high heat, heat the olive oil. Brown the chicken in batches until just edges are just golden and remove to plate.
- Saute the bell pepper and garlic in the same saucepan used for the chicken until just starting to soften.
- Add the chicken, frozen veggies, and sauce to the saucepan with the bell peppers. Simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
- Add the rice noodles and cook until they’re heated through. Serve topped with chopped peanuts and cilantro.