Weeknight cooking is hard. Like, really hard. It's the end of what has likely been a long day, you're suffering from decision fatigue, and it's just so damn easy to pick up your smartphone and order from your local pizza joint. Again. But as delicious as that slice (or 3) is, doing that too often leaves you feeling even worse, especially once you realize that you have a crisper drawer full of rotten produce that needs to be thrown out. Again. Believe me, I've been there.
That's why I like to have an arsenal of easy, healthy weeknight recipes that not only come together quickly but that utilize ingredients I pretty much always have in my fridge and/or pantry, and this is one of my favorites. It's packed with fresh veggies and lean protein, so it leaves you feeling satisfied without being overly stuffed. I've also skipped the step of marinating my chicken (which most recipes like this will do) in favor of a dry spice rub (because, duh, I make spice blends), a choice that cuts down your prep time by at least 30 minutes. You're welcome.
So, enough of my babbling. Let's get cooking, shall we? Please note that the recipe is written based on the veggies I usually have in my fridge. You can easily swap them for whatever you've got (e.g., radishes, cabbage, etc.).
Weeknight Rice Noodle Salad Bowls with Grilled Chicken
1 or 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (depending on their size and how much chicken you want each guest to get)
2 tablespoons Far East Spice Blend (more or less, depending on how much chicken you're cooking)
1 (6-ounce) package uncooked rice stick noodles (maifun)
4 cups loosely packed mixed greens, thinly sliced
3-4 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
8 baby bell peppers, seeded and cut into rings
12 sugar snap peas, cut into thirds diagonally
1 cup loosely packed torn fresh tender herbs, such as cilantro, mint, and basil
Grapeseed oil, for grilling
1/2 cup unsalted roasted cashews (or peanuts), coarsely chopped
1 cup hot water
1/3 cup agave nectar (or 1/2 cup granulated sugar)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup fish sauce
3-4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 small fresh chile (such as serrano or Fresno), cut into rings (optional)
Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high. Rub chicken breast all over with a small amount of grapeseed oil and the Far East Spice Blend.
Boil noodles in a pot of water according to package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water; drain again.
Grill chicken breast until a thermometer stuck into the thickest part registers 160 degrees, 8 to 12 minutes. Allow chicken to rest 5 minutes and then slice into 1/2-inch slices (or cut into cubes).
Divide lettuce between serving bowls and top with noodles, cucumber, carrots, bell peppers, sugar snap peas, and herbs. Arrange sliced (or cubed) chicken on top and sprinkle with cashews.
In a small bowl, whisk together water and sugar until sugar dissolves. Add in lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, and chile (if using) and stir to combine. Serve alongside salad and allow diners to dress their own salads.