January 23, 2009

Limited pots and pans

The sun is shining, kookaburras laughing and cicadas humming outside. Seriously, I haven't seen this much Aussie wildlife around since I was a kid living in Darwin! 
West Ryde has a lot of bush areas and plenty of wildlife thriving much to our delight.
 One aspect of Sydney living that I am not to fond of however is the large presence of electric cooking ranges. We tried to get a house with gas but they were few and far between so I am now trying to wrap my head around electric....I am sure there are 'fans' out there but I am not one of them. 
  Here we are in our house with a big back yard (boys totally ecstatic about that!), electric cooking and our friends camping gear to survive on until god knows when. I have to start coming up with meals that are versatile, yummy and limited to a large fry pan and medium sized pot. Pasta is always a favorite in our family as is a good stir fry, (something I am trying to perfect on an electric top) but the other night I was in the mood for something a little more Mediterranean. There was some leftover rice in the fridge sitting right next a jar of olives and I thought I could make something starting with those ingredients.
 Because the rice was already cooked the whole meal only took about 30 minutes and really only about ten minutes of 'work' time, the rest was the simmering time. If you don't have pre-cooked rice you can use couscous, or cook some more rice and fold it through just before you serve the dish or keep it on side if you prefer it all separate.

Before I begin, I make sure all my ingredients are cut and ready to go. This speeds up the cooking process. Put your piles of vegetables onto a large dinner plate and then scrape them off into the pan as you need them.

Chicken bean and olive one pan wonder
5-6 Chicken thighs cut into medium strips
1 medium onion, roughly diced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup green beans cut into 1 inch pieces
1Tbsp tomato paste
1 can whole tomatoes roughly chopped (keeping about half of the liquid for cooking)
1/3 cup calamarta olives (squash slightly to release flavour)
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/3 cup water
2 cups cooked rice

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper while fry pan is getting very hot, then brown off chicken strips.
2. Turn heat to medium hot and add onion, garlic and beans to chicken, saute for 3-4 minutes until onion is softened. Add tomato paste and stir through, cook for about 5 minutes.
3. Add chopped tomatoes about half the juice from the can, olives, vinegar and water. Reduce the heat to low so the pan is simmering, stirring occasionally. Once sauce thickens (about 7-8 minutes) add cooked rice to cover sauce. (this acts as a 'lid', the steam will help to heat the rice and also adds a starch to your meal).
4. After about 3-5 minutes fold the rice through your chicken and sauce. Remove from the heat, portion out the kids meal then for added flavour you can mix in chopped basil leaves or a hint of chili for the grown ups.

Max and Alex love this dish, it fills them up and they love finding the olives throughout the dish, they are like a 'bonus' treat- gotta love that!

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