Friday, September 9, 2011

Italian Chicken & Veggie Skillet

I love this simple dish.  I especially love it with asparagus, which is my favorite spring vegetable.  There's only one problem - in Wisconsin, there are only a few spring vegetables.  So this favorite dish is in contrast to my desire to eat local and eat in season.  Yet it's so good, I make an exception ;) This year asparagus season was late, so I was actually able to buy hot house varieties of several of these veggies grown only a few states over.  At the end of summer (which it now is *sniff*) I can get everything locally except the asparagus, which I sometimes omit.  Alright, enough rambling about my foodie sensibilities.

Almost all of the ingredients - the onion, Parmesan, olive oil & lemon pepper seasoning were overlooked for this picture.  What can I say?  I was hurrying :)  Start by cutting everything up - this takes a bit, but the rest of the recipe flies by.  Which explains the lack of pictures.

Sorry for the dark picture - still learning how to get good pictures during the ever shorter evenings.  This looks like a lot of veggies and it is :) I actually didn't use all of the summer squash, about half of that was saved for another night.  (amount extra shown below)

Ok, so I started by chopping everything up.  I like a mix of shapes but try to keep the over all sizes similar.  I cut the chicken while it was still frozen, it starts thawing during cutting but holds it's shape for much easier cutting.  Once everything is cut, I use a wok (that has a lid, necessary for the end of the recipe) to cook the chicken.

Just starting to cook here - I had a generous tablespoon or two of oil hot but not smoking before I added the chicken.  I seasoned with garlic powder, lemon pepper, and Italian seasoning.  You can either sprinkle that on the chicken before cooking or part way through, when ever you remember :)  Once the chicken is completely cooked - white all the way through, no pink juices - remove from the pan, saving the juices.  Now it's veggie time.

I make sure the pan is hot and add more oil.  Then I start with the hardest veggies, working my way to the quickest cooking veggies.  It's a little hard to see in my picture of plates above, but I group the veggies by cooking time when prepping them.  Onions and carrots go in first, then a minute later celery.  Two or three minutes later the peppers & asparagus are added in, then a minute or two after that the summer squash & mushrooms join the pan.  Another minute or two goes by, and then the chicken gets added back into the pan.  Place the tomato slices in a single layer and sprinkle with more lemon pepper & italian seasoning.  Top with thin slices of parmesan cheese.

Put the lid on the pan & keep it over medium heat just until the cheese & tomatoes have softened and a nice layer of steam forms on the lid.

Remove from heat & stir it all together.  Oh yum.

If you want this meal to stretch farther, serve over egg noodles or with a side of fresh rolls.  I prefer to enjoy it on it's own - a simple meal that my whole family loves.  Honest, even the toddler eats this, once it's chopped finer for her :)  If you manage to have leftovers, they are delicious cold the next day.  (unfortunately) this veggie based dish disappears much too quickly here :)  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  I feel silly listing an actual recipe below, since the amounts change every time I make it.  Feel free to alter the veggies to suit your tastes! 

Italian Chicken & Veggie Skillet
3 frozen boneless/skinless chicken breasts (or equivalent amount of your favorite cut of chicken)
1 onion
4 carrots
3 stalks of celery
1 yellow summer squash
1 zucchini
1 green sweet pepper
1 red sweet pepper
1# asparagus 
4 ounces mushrooms
3 tomatoes
olive oil
granulated garlic
Italian seasoning
Lemon pepper seasoning

  1. Cut everything up into bite size pieces.
  2. Season the diced chicken with spices listed.  Saute in oil until completely cooked.  Remove from pan, saving juices.
  3. Saute the veggies, starting with the onions & carrots.  After 1-2min, add the celery.  After another 2-3 min, add the peppers and asparagus.  1-2 minutes later, add the summer squash and mushrooms.  Continue sauteing for another minute or two, then add the chicken & juices back into the pan.  
  4. Add the sliced tomatoes & Parmesan cheese in a single layer across the top.  Add more Italian seasoning & (if desired) lemon pepper seasoning.  Cover the pan & cook over medium heat until the tomatoes soften and steam covers the lid of the pan.  This should take approximately 3 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat & stir to evenly mix it together.

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