This is not the typical chicken and asparagus stir-fry recipe. It has more of a mediterranean twist, using lemon, capers, shallots, and pistachios.
Usually a stir-fry points to Asian flavors, but why be limited to that. I find asparagus so much more suitable to this flavor profile with olive oil and lemon, which doesn’t overtake the vegetable but compliments it.
Pistachios are often under-looked as an ingredient, but once you start cooking savory dishes with them, you’ll make it a habit.
A Little Bit about Pistachios
When I was a child, I loved the Encyclopedias. It was probably a foreshadowing of how much I like to research everything, and run to google, especially when it comes to food, ingredients or cuisine.
You might be surprised to discover that pistachios are not nuts, but seeds, and are part of ancient history, one of two nuts mentioned in the old testament.
Pistachios originated in the middle east, probably Iraq, eventually spreading to the Mediterranean. Syria introduced the pistachio tree to Italy in the first century, and you often find them in Italian desserts.
Today, Iran is the world’s largest producer of pistachios and California is second, although America didn’t see its first pistachio until the late 1800’s. Once cultivated, they became more of a snack food, found in vending machines. The shells were often died red to make them more appealing.
While most cooking with pistachios has been reserved to baking, I prefer pistachios in savory dishes more than sweet dishes, although I wouldn’t turn down pistachio gelato.
This is a forgiving recipe. You don’t have to follow the recipe tightly, but you do need to know a few things about asparagus or this dish can fail. I prefer to use a cast iron pan, a staple in my kitchen, but you can use any kind of frying pan.
What You Need to Know About Asparagus for Chicken and Asparagus Stir-Fry Recipe
- Buy the freshest asparagus you can. It should snap, not bend.
- Buy medium-sized asparagus. If they too thin, they aren’t fork friendly, too thick and they’re too woody. Err on the thinner side if that’s all you can find.
- Peel the asparagus. I peel with a potato peeler starting about half way down. I then cut off about 1 inch at the bottom to remove any woody part.
- Don’t overcook or undercook the asparagus.
- Cook your chicken thoroughly first on low (so it doesn’t get dry) and add your asparagus in to cook it enough that it is not necessarily crunchy, but has just a little resistance.
Chicken and Asparagus Stir-Fry is a Super Easy Dinner
This is a super easy dinner, done in about 15 minutes.
You can prep everything ahead, by cutting your chicken and marinating overnight in a little olive oil and lemon, and trimming your asparagus.
In the version below, I used a rotisserie chicken, and that was as good, maybe better as the stir-fried chicken. Just shred, and add after the asparagus is cooked through.
The thing that makes this dish sing are the pistachios. If you want it to sing even higher, add a tablespoon of golden raisins, often a Mediterranean ingredient. I learned about the magic of pairing golden raisins with pistachios when I made this raw cauliflower salad. If you’re not a raisin fan, skip them.
If you can find purple splendor potatoes, do use them. They are super healthy and I tell you why here. If not it’s great all by itself, with rice or with noodles.
As far as herbs, if you have fresh herbs, use them. Mine herb garden is are not ready
Capers and lemon zest. adds acid and brightness to the dish. Don’t forget the sea salt. Salt isn’t just there to make food salty. It’s a flavor enhancer and will make everything taste better. I use himalayan sea salt in almost all of my cooking.
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- 1 pound boneless chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 bundle of asparagus
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon parsley
- 1 teaspoon herbs de provence (or herbs of your choice)
- zest of ½ lemon
- juice of ½ lemon
- 1 tablespoon capers
- ½ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper or to taste
- ¼ cup chopped roasted salted pistachios
- Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. You can also slice chicken breasts through middle lengthwise and make small pieces that way.
- Trim asparagus. Using a potato peeler, peel asparagus from about ¾ from bottom, getting strings off. Cut off 1 inch of bottoms (or woody part). Cut into 2 inch pieces. Set aside.
- Heat oil in pan. Add in shallots until softened.
- Add garlic for about 1 minute.
- Add chicken and turn heat very low so as to not dry or brown.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Once chicken is cooked add in asparagus, lemon juice, zest, capers, herbs.
- Once asparagus is cooked through, season again with salt and pepper to taste.
- If you are adding in purple potatoes, they should be boiled and peeled first. Cut into quarters and cook until heated through.