When I got cooking in my kitchen, I had fully expected to make the dish as instructed but had a last minute thought (due to a child preference) and tweaked it just a little. As I stirred the dish, I knew what I made was going to be good based just on how it looked and started taking pictures even though I had no plans to blog it. Once I finally got to sit down and eat it, I was in love. We all loved it a great deal. The sweet and spicy flavours, soft and crunchy foods, the hot food with the cool touch of yogurt - AMAZING!!! Like a party in your mouth!
Aside from the color and flavours already mentioned, this meal is also a favorite for several reasons:
1. Very quick to make (with planning)
Since I started meal-planning, it allows me to make extra chicken and roast more veggies (like the sweet potato) ahead with other meals so the bulk of this meal is ready for dicing and heating.
2. A no-grain meal
In my style of cooking, my natural thinking on this meal would be to serve this over a bed of rice, however, my reading has lead me to reconsider just how much grain is in my diet and look to see where it can be omitted - such as this meal. The Gourmet Nutrition cookbook really emphasized this. And really, you do not need it at all. As for the corn, some do consider that a grain however, in my dish, it is a veggie!! I like the yellow color it adds and also the crisp bite of sweetness.
3. A meal with no cheese
Again, my cooking instincts on Mexican flavoured food requires cheese but this does not need it. Trust me. Cheese always tastes good on food but it is not needed here at all and I like that. Resist the urge and try it 'naked'. The yogurt topping offers a great creamy texture and flavour contrast in place of the cheese I suppose and fewer calories too!
One last comment that has to be made...the roasted nuts are not optional here. Really. It is the surprise ingredient that helps creates the magic in this dish. Now here is the recipe so that the rest of you can enjoy this delicious meal of beautiful color, textures and flavours. Happy eating!
2 chicken breasts - cubed and precooked
1 sweet potato * - roasted and diced
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen green peas
1 cup canned beans (black or red) - rinsed thoroughly
1 fresh tomato - diced
1/2 fresh cilantro - finely chopped
1 Tbsp DIY Taco Seasoning *
1/4 - 1/2 cup water (or more as needed)
1/2 cup almonds - roasted and chopped
1/2 - 1 cup plain yogurt *
In a large skillet, add the cooked chicken, sweet potato cubes, corn, peas, beans, seasoning and water. Mix thoroughly and heat through. Add more water if necessary so the food does not stick in the pan. Add the diced tomato and fresh cilantro and heat for another minute or two.
To serve, top with a dollop of plain yogurt and roasted almonds (they are not optional!)
Cook's Notes:Roasted Sweet Potato - For this dish, it works fastest to use a pre-cooked sweet potato. After it is cooked, a cooled potato will chop us easily and hold it's shape better.
The baking process allows the natural sugars to roast and creates a sweeter potato and it is simple. Just 1. wash the skins and add the potatoes to a baking dish.
2. Poke them with a fork to allow the steam to escape and prevent explosions.
3. Cover the dish with a lid or foil (I find they bake faster this way)
4. Bake at 350 F for about 30 - 45 min or until desired for cooking purposes. Test with a fork to see how firm the potato is. This amount of time will depend on how big the sweet potatoes are. When using sweet potatoes in pieces for this dish, they can be baked a little less so they remain in shape (hence less baking time). If using your potatoes for mashed sweet potatoes, then I would bake at least an hour or more.
Roasted almonds - For a recipe like this, it really does not matter if you use raw or roasted almonds but I really prefer the flavour of the roasted and the crisper crunch.
1. To roast them, I chop the almonds in a food chopper or with a knife on a cutting board to desired size.
2. Using a frying pan on your stove top, heat the pan over med heat and add the chopped nuts. Add the nuts to a dry pan and stir them until they become golden and smell fragrant. If you walk away, they are likely to burn - the laws of cooking.
DIY Taco Seasoning - I posted this recipe a few weeks ago on my blog. Any taco seasoning mix can be used for this recipe but the amount will vary.
Plain Yogurt - My family uses plain yogurt in place of sour cream. It is a very easy swap to make and prevents me from having both yogurt and sour cream in the fridge. Plus the yogurt does have healthy bacteria in it that sour cream does not have. If you don't have plain yogurt, feel free to use sour cream.