I first picked up a pack of ground chicken a few years ago on a whim, and boy did I wish I'd been cooking with it all along. It's a leaner alternative to beef, lamb, and pork, with a mild flavor that's all too willing to partner with any herb, sauce, or vegetable. These days it's my top pick for bulking up rice bowls for dinner. If you regularly cook with ground turkey, ground chicken is a nice way to change things up.
When I can get the meat freshly ground at the butcher, I opt for a mix of light and dark meat. The light breast meat keeps the mixture lean, while the dark leg meat adds a boost of fat and flavor. For this bowl, the ground chicken is quickly browned and broken into crumbles on the stovetop, then mixed with a Thai red curry peanut sauce.
Meal Prep This Bowl
Not only is this vibrant bowl your ticket to a balanced and nourishing lunch or dinner, but it also lends itself to being made in advance during a weekend meal prep session. Everything from the rice and chicken to the veggies and sauce can be prepped and assembled in advance. To make the most of your time, stir together the peanut sauce and chop the vegetables while the brown rice and chicken are cooking. When prepping ahead, it's a good idea to swap the bowl for a lidded container, like the kind you use for meal prep (this one is our favorite meal prep container!).
Portion the brown rice between the containers, add a scoop of the chicken to each, and follow up with the rainbow of vegetables. While the recipe calls for ground chicken, you can certainly use ground turkey as an alternative with the same results.
Keep the curried-peanut sauce stored in a separate container, and drizzle it over the bowl before heading out in the morning (if you're taking it for lunch) or just before serving. To keep them crunchy, sprinkle the peanuts on top right before you dig in.
A faster way to cook rice: How To Cook Rice in the Electric Pressure Cooker
More About Buddha Bowls
The Buddha Bowls cookbook features 100 one-bowl recipes (including plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free bowls!), 13 essential sauce recipes (with variations for each one), and tons of tips and make-ahead moments. It will help you stock your week with wholesome, nourishing meals, get more veggies on the table, and fill your belly with delicious food. The book is currently available in bookstores and on Amazon.
Buy the book: Buddha Bowls: 100 Nourishing One-Bowl Meals
Spicy Thai Chicken and Brown Rice Bowls
Prep time: 10 minutes to 15 minutes ; cooking time: 34 minutes
- For the Curried Peanut Sauce:
creamy peanut butter
tamari or soy sauce
toasted (Asian) sesame oil
Thai red curry paste
finely grated peeled fresh ginger
cayenne pepper (optional)
- For the bowls:
short-grain brown rice
coconut oil, divided
medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
medium scallions, thinly sliced, divided
finely shredded red cabbage
Chopped fresh Thai basil leaves, for garnish
Chopped roasted peanuts, for garnish
Place all the ingredients in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment or blender. Process continuously until smooth, about 2 minutes; set aside.
Place the rice, 2 cups of water, and a generous pinch of salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the rice is tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to steam, covered, for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the bell pepper and chicken.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the bell pepper, season with a salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, garlic, and cayenne, season with salt and pepper, and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in 1/2 of the scallions and 2 tablespoons of the reserved peanut sauce, and cook for 1 minute more.
To serve, divide the cabbage and carrots among 4 bowls. Divide the brown rice, ground chicken mixture, and bell pepper among the bowls. Drizzle with the peanut sauce and sprinkle with the basil, remaining scallions, and peanuts.
Substitutions: Ground turkey can be substituted for ground chicken.
Make ahead: The sauce, rice, bell pepper, and chicken can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated in separate airtight containers.
Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Reprinted with permission from Buddha Bowls by Kelli Foster, copyright (c) 2018. Published by Harvard Common Press.