Growing up, it was always meat and two vegetables, no matter what was placed in front of us. Potatoes, the staple, then whatever was around – from carrots, to cabbage, there were always, always two other vegetables. And of course meat!
Looking back I realize that times have changed. No matter how it was presented, the meal typically featured meat and two vegetables. Gone are the days when veggies are kept separated. Nowadays the whole course can all be stir-fried up into a dish that not only looks amazing, with colours that sparkle, but is also extremely palatable!
The first time I made this dish was by pure luck more than judgment. Friends had popped over inadvertently and surprised me when they didn’t seem to want to leave. Being a host who won’t miss an opportunity to bring on some food, I offered to make lunch for everyone. But I quietly panicked a bit – something that in hindsight I know was entirely unnecessarily. I need only have checked the fridge. Pulling out this bit and that, I finally figured I had enough to create something out of nothing. An idea struck me and I got to work. There were chicken breasts; there were vegetables. I began.
Shock, was my first reaction. The aroma brought my senses to life. If this tasted as good as it looked and smelled, this was a winner!
Here is what I had found in the fridge and cupboards, and how I set about the task:
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 large skinless chicken breasts sliced into thin strips
3 cloves crushed fresh garlic
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly crushed black pepper
2 cups grape tomatoes
2 cups green beans (cut into 3-inch lengths)
1 cup sliced yellow squash
1 cup sliced zucchini
1/2 cup yellow pepper strips
½ cup red pepper strips
1 cup large onion sliced
Pour the oil in a large, nonstick skillet and turn on the stove to a medium to high heat. Place the chicken strips into the skillet to cook. Stir the cooking chicken for 5 to 6 minutes, or until all pieces are a nice golden brown.
Now add the following: red and yellow pepper, zucchini, squash, green beans, garlic, onion, seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook and stir for a further 7 minutes or until the vegetables are tender-crisp.
Add tomatoes; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until tomatoes are slightly softened and chicken is cooked through.
Remove from stove and present to your hungry guests on a small platter; laugh and have a jolly good time with your friends for the rest of the day. This meal blends well with a cold glass of white wine.
Ian Leatt is general manager of Pegasus Publications Ltd.