Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Can Weight Watchers Get A Pulitzer For This?

Or a James Beard award or something?

I adore Thai food. I love the bright notes of lime and the creamy coconut milk and I'm good friends with curry paste. But sometimes the calories are prohibitive.

Weight Watchers magazine published this stroke of genius recently and we LOVED it. Most of the Thai food I've attempted before has been a lot flatter in taste than what we'd get at a restaurant; just not as full-bodied. That's not the case here, and it really tastes like Thai food that I went out and spent $$$ on... but it's not.

This is terrific. The only reason this isn't a Learn To Cook recipe is because some of the ingredients aren't part of the average cook's pantry. They are worth the purchase, though.

Thai-Style Chicken Breasts With Spinach

Serves 4 (I used one big chicken breast & cut it in half. We used the rest of the sauce on some leftover plain grilled chicken to have for lunch tomorrow)

1 cup light (reduced-fat) coconut milk
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 TBSP minced peeled fresh ginger
1 TBSP paprika (didn't make sense to me at first, but gives the sauce a great color)
1 TBSP reduced-sodium soy sauce, or Tamari if you need a gluten-free option
1 TBSP Asian fish sauce (or 2 more TBSP soy sauce if you don't keep fish sauce handy; fish sauce is better, though)
1 tsp grated lime zest (more intense than lime juice, but use 2 tsp juice if that's what you have)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
4 (1/4-pound) skinless, boneless chicken-breast halves
1 (6-ounce) bag washed baby spinach leaves - or grab 3 or 4 handfuls out of whatever bag of spinach you have
3 TBSP chopped fresh basil or cilantro (I used basil since I have a plant on the deck)
1 tsp Asian (dark) sesame oil
1 TBSP packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt (are they kidding?? This is plenty salty without it)
2 cups hot cooked white rice (I used brown steam-in-the-bag rice)
4 tsp unsweetened shredded coconut (I'd use it if I had it around, but I wasn't going to buy it to use such a small amount. It works just fine without.)

1. In a large skillet, bring the coconut milk, garlic, ginger, paprika, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime zest, and crushed red pepper to a boil. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the flavors are blended and the mixture thickens slightly, about 8 minutes. [Note: if you need to do your prep work beforehand, you can measure and combine all the sauce ingredients and leave them in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator. If you're busy during the day, it helps to do them mix & measure the night before]

2. Add the chicken; reduce the heat and simmer, covered, just until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add the spinach, basil, sesame oil, brown sugar, and (if you're using) salt. Return to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the spinach wilts, about 2 minutes longer.

3. Serve with the rice and sprinkle with the shredded coconut.

I served baby carrots on the side 'cause I'm classy like that. Steamed broccoli would also work really well with this.

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