Broccoli, Chicken, and Almond Sauté

One of the things I love about cooking is how some ingredients, tossed together on a whim, can turn out unexpectedly well. Like two people meeting for the first time, instantly recognizing they will be friends forever (has that ever happened to you?) Dear broccoli, meet toasted almond, and her friends grilled chicken, sesame oil, and red chili flakes. You are all going to get along swimmingly.

This was one of those what-can-we-put-together-for-dinner-with-what-we-have-on-hand meals that was a surprising success. We almost always have broccoli in the fridge, because it keeps well, and I could eat it practically every day without tiring of it. Toasted almonds are another well-loved pantry item—great for snacking, and good for you too. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are usually not my favorite (give me bone-in, skin-on thighs any day), but they are wonderfully convenient when you want a quick meal. No fuss.

The big “ah hah” with this dish? Broccoli and toasted almonds are meant for each other. With a little sesame oil and chili flakes, you don’t even need the chicken, so feel free to skip it if you want to go meatless with this one. But, it’s great with the chicken too.

  • Prep: 10 minutes
  • Cook: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4.

The amounts are estimates, adjust to your taste.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb to 3/4 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • Your favorite spice rub for grilling (optional)
  • 1 lb broccoli florets
  • 1/4 teaspoon chile flakes (more to taste)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method

1 Put a 2 quart pot of salted water (about 1 Tbsp of salt) on to boil. While the water is heating, start the chicken cooking in the next step.

2 Place the chicken breasts in a bowl and sprinkle seasoning on all sides. Use at a minimum some salt. Or if you have a favorite spice rub, you can use that too. Heat a grill pan, or prepare a grill, for high, direct heat. (If you don't have a grill pan or grill, use a cast iron skillet, and only season the chicken with salt.) Rub some olive oil all over the chicken breasts. Grill the breasts for a few minutes on each side to get some nice char marks, then lower the temperature to low and leave on the grill until the breasts are just almost cooked through. They'll cook a little longer in the sauté pan, so they can still be a little pink in the middle at this point. Remove from pan or grill, set aside for a minute, then thinly slice.

3 Once the chicken has cooked and the water is boiling, add the broccoli florets to the salted boiling water. Allow the water to come back to a boil, and once boiling again, let cook for about 1 minute. Drain.

4 Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan on high heat. Add the red chili flakes. Once the red chili flakes are sizzling, add the broccoli florets, sliced grilled chicken, and toasted almonds. Drizzle dark sesame oil over the broccoli and chicken, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Toss and cook until all of the chicken pieces are no longer at all pink in the center, a minute or two.

Serve immediately.

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