Sesame Chicken Rice Bowl with Spring Vegetables
This is one of my go-to weeknight dinners that can be thrown together in no time, especially if you prep a bit beforehand. I’m a huge fan of meal prepping. After a long day of work and baby chasing I don’t usually have the mind power or energy to think up an interesting meal so doing the prep before makes a huge difference. I like to make a plan for what I’m going to make throughout the week and then I pre-cook some or all of the ingredients to make things super quick.
For this recipe I like to cook the rice, chop the veggies, blanch the asparagus and cook the chicken a day or so before which all takes about 30 minutes. I typically do this for a few different meals at once, cooking about 4 chicken breasts and blanching or roasting a few other types of veggies. Then I have both on hand to throw into a salad or scrambled eggs. The rice in this salad is great because it adds some weight which makes it really filling. It’s also super tender which adds a nice textural contrast to what would otherwise be a tasty, but simple salad.
I didn’t have any chicken broth on hand when I was cooking for this post so I used water, but I like to cook my rice with low sodium chicken broth and a tablespoon of olive oil. The chicken broth makes the rice a bit more flavorful and the olive oil helps to keep it from sticking together and being clumpy.
I love the crispy, spicy quality of radishes. When I was a kid I used to eat them by the handful. I always taste a few in the bunch before I add them to a recipe though since they can be quite overpowering if you get a really spicy bunch.
I’ve mentioned this before but I highly recommend blanching vegetables, especially for recipes like this where you’ll be serving them cold. Blanching is really just a fancy word for boiling, but the key is to cook the vegetables for 1-3 minutes, then shock them in an ice bath immediately after to stop the cooking process and help them retain their color.
The dressing for this salad has quite a few ingredients, some of which you may not have on hand but a well stocked pantry will include most of them and the rest will come in handy when making any kind of asian food. You can use Tamari or Soy Sauce interchangeably. I like Tamari because it’s a little thicker and less salty than soy and has no wheat. Mirin is a sweet rice wine which is a staple in Japanese cooking. The Tahini adds the creamy texture and slightly nutty taste to this dressing and is widely used in Mediterranean cooking. I couldn’t live without Tahini.
My husband basically drinks this dressing so I usually double the recipe then I have more on hand for salads later in the week. You may want to do the same. It’s also delicious simply drizzled over grilled veggies or even steak if you want to experiment. I’ve also made this with tofu before and it’s equally delicious. I like to use firm tofu and lightly “bread” it with a bit of coconut flour then fry it for just a few minutes on each side in coconut oil.
Ingredients for Salad (Serves 4)
- 4 cups baby arugula
- 2 cups (about one bunch) chopped asparagus
- 2 cups cooked brown or white rice (1 cup uncooked makes about 4 cups cooked)
- 2 cups cubed chicken breast (2 normal sized breasts, about 1 lb by weight)
- 1 cup sliced radishes
- 1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 cup shelled edamame
- 4 tbsp sliced scallion
- 2 tbsp olive oil for roasting chicken breast
Ingredients for Dressing
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tsp Tamari or Soy Sauce
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp sriracha
- 1/4 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1/8 tsp salt
- Bring 1 medium sized pot of water to a boil and cook the rice according to package directions. Measure 1 cup uncooked.
- Bring another, smaller pot of water to a boil and season with a large, large pinch of salt, nearly a small handful.
- Preheat the oven to 400.
- Wash and dry the chicken breasts, liberally season with salt and pepper.
- Heat the extra virgin olive oil over med-high heat in a roasting pan that can go in the oven.
- Place the seasoned side of the chicken down first and let it cook for about 5 minutes. The chicken should aggressively sizzle. Do not turn down the heat, this is part of searing the meat to seal in the juices.
- Flip the chicken and place the entire pan in the oven. set a 25 minute timer.
- While the chicken is cooking prep all the vegetables: slice the scallions, cut the radishes into “matchsticks”, halve the tomatoes, chop the asparagus.
- “Blanch” the asparagus in the second pot of boiling water for about 3-4 minutes and immediately plunge into an ice bath.
- Prepare the dressing by combining the rice vinegar, tahini, mirin, tamari or soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil, sriracha, ginger and salt in a small mixing bowl and stir to combine.
- Slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil while whisking to emulsify.
- Take the chicken our of the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.
- Dice the chicken into cubes.
- Once the rice is cooked, gently fluff it with a fork.
- Place a 1/4 cup cooked rice in the bottom of each bowl.
- Combine the arugula, asparagus, radish, tomatoes, edamame, scallions, and chicken in a large mixing bowl and toss with dressing to coat.
- Evenly distribute salad mixture on top of the rice in each bowl and serve.