5-SPICE CHICKEN WITH MUSHROOMS & VEGGIES
My favorite recipes are the ones that are simple to make but look and taste like something you’d get in a nice restaurant. And if it’s a healthy easy dinner recipe to boot? Um, yes please.
A few years ago, we fell into a bit of a meal rut in our house. We’d grill the same things on the grill, we’d make the same casseroles, and we’d eat the same things for breakfast. We didn't have any chicken dinner ideas that excited us (baked chicken again? Sure, I guess...). It was...well, boring. So, we did what we usually do to bust out of one of these ruts. We grabbed a cookbook from the pantry, picked a recipe that we’ve never made, and decided to see what happened. This 5-Spice Chicken with Mushrooms & Veggies recipe was inspired by that cookbook as well as a dish from our favorite Japanese restaurant. And the result is one of the best dishes we make!
While we don’t do any particular diet plan, I try to ensure we’re eating healthy meals that are filled with veggies and protein on a regular basis. We have several people in our lives who do WW (formerly weight watchers), and love that this easy dinner recipe is a great option for them too (a serving of this healthy chicken recipe is only 1 smartpoint! Awesome!).
TELL ME ABOUT: 5-SPICE CHICKEN WITH MUSHROOMS & VEGGIES
Level of difficulty: Easy. Basic chopping is required, and there is a good amount of transferring things in/out of pans and bowls...nothing too wild!
Flavor: This healthy chicken recipe draws flavor from two main sources: the Chinese five-spice powder lends a complexity of flavors that is awesome, and the mushrooms deepen that flavor with a savory earthiness.
Texture: Chunky, almost stew-like.
Time: Including prep-time, it will take you 30-45min to make this easy dinner recipe. A lot of the variability comes down to how quickly you chop your vegetables.
KEY INGREDIENTS FOR 5-SPICE CHICKEN WITH MUSHROOMS & VEGGIES
Chinese Five-Spice Powder: Five-spice is a blend of spices that isn’t sure if it’s trying to be sweet or savory: pepper, cloves, fennel, star anise, and cinnamon combine to give you a flavor that you really won’t find anywhere else. The pepper and fennel remind you of your favorite savory dishes, but the cloves, star anise, and cinnamon bring in flavors of something like mulled wine. Just trust me when I say you’ll be stocking this in your pantry from now on.
Chicken breast: We’re always on the hunt for easy dinner recipes that are healthy, so chicken breast is a staple in our fridge. Any quality chicken breast will do; the key here is to make sure it’s trimmed properly and cut into similar sized pieces for even cooking.
Mushrooms: While any mushroom will do, this is one area where your selection can add a lot of flavor to your meal. We generally use an even mix of oyster and shitake mushrooms. Portabellas and creminis would be other great mushroom options for this dish as well. Find the mixture that works best for you!
Veggies: The zucchini and spinach help make this healthy dinner recipe just that: healthier! You’d be AMAZED at how much spinach you can pack into a dish like this when it wilts. You know the big bags of spinach at the store? You can pack an entire bag into this dish, no sweat. And the zucchini’s give this entrée a fresh texture and lively green color.
OVERVIEW: HOW TO MAKE 5-SPICE CHICKEN WITH MUSHROOMS & VEGGIES
Wash and chop all of your veggies: prep veggies as noted in the ingredient list
Cook your onion, garlic, and chicken: heat 4 tsp of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Add chicken, five-spice powder, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Cook until chicken is done (temps out at 165° F). Transfer the chicken and all of the juices to a large bowl and set aside.
Cook your veggies: in the same skillet, add remaining oil and zucchini, and sauté on medium heat for about 2 minutes before adding the mushrooms (option to add a little more salt & pepper at this stage as well). Sauté until the mushrooms are tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add spinach to the skillet, then immediately add the bowl of chicken, onions, and all of the juices you had set aside on top of the spinach. Add in the soy sauce, cover, and cook until the spinach is wilted, stirring occasionally.
Enjoy! Serve as-is (like a stew) or with your favorite grain
Store leftovers: place leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
TIPS & TRICKS FOR MAKING 5-SPICE CHICKEN WITH MUSHROOMS & VEGGIES
What’s the other dish that inspired this recipe? There’s a traditional Japanese izakaya (the equivalent to an Irish pub or an American sports bar; a casual place for after-work drinks and tasty, simple fare) not far from our house that serves an amazing three cup chicken. The flavor profile is somewhat similar, but the big chunks of chicken and vibrant greens (basil in this case) were something we wanted to build on.
How should I serve this dish? We typically eat it as-is (sort of like a stew), but the saucy quality of the dish makes it great served with rice or quinoa too.
Tell me how to get even more flavor into my five-spice chicken! If you’re looking to punch up the flavor even more, swap half the chicken breast for chicken thighs (trimmed and cut into pieces evenly sized with the chicken breast). Chicken thighs are dark meat, which often has a richer flavor (but also has a higher fat content).