Spring is here! It’s official, as of yesterday.
Woo! Now, if we could just get this snow/slush completely melted off, that would be great. Mother Nature, get on it.
In the meantime, we can get on this meal! Guys. This meal. It’s my new obsession. And I think you’ll like it too.
Not only does this dish sort of celebrate spring with all the colors and flavors and freshness, but it is completely hearty and satisfying too. All on top of being healthy! It also feeds us for a few nights a week (see my recipe “Notes” at the bottom of the page), which is my favorite thing ever. It fits all my weeknight needs.
Now, you might scroll down and see that this recipe has a lot of ingredients and components. Bear with me. It’s intentional. And here’s why.
Rice bowls are absolutely boring to me if there is not enough going on. I know myself well enough to know that I will simply not eat it if it’s just some cooked rice and chicken with a few sad veggies thrown in. Oh no. It has got to keep me INTERESTED.
Especially on weeknights when I am tired and more prone to eating cheese and Triscuits and calling it dinner. This happens more than I care to admit.
To combat this, I make my rice bowls super fun and load them up with all sorts of yummy things. Read: high maintenance. Sorry? I promise you won’t be disappointed when it comes to flavor, though! And there’s no way you can get bored.
We’ve got chicken that is marinated in pineapple juice and chile-garlic sauce (one of my Asian pantry staples) and then seared until crispy, caramelized perfection. We’ve got some fluffy rice as a base. We’ve got a fun cabbage and pineapple slaw for crunch. Some cucumbers for springy freshness! Some buttery avocado because, well, avocado is life. And the creamy texture is much appreciated here. And it all gets topped with a drizzle of gingery sauce that is straight-up drinkable.
I love meals like this because there is so much going on. The flavors are light and fresh (which screams “SPRING!” to me). You are excited to put it together. You are excited to eat it. You are excited WHILE you are eating it. And you’re completely satisfied when you’re done eating it. It’s savory, salty, sweet, tangy, a touch spicy, and every bite is incredible.
Like I said: weeknight meal perfection. Right? Right.
1 lb chicken breasts
6 oz pineapple juice
1 tablespoon garlic chile paste
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced (about 1 ¼ cup total)
1 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and very finely minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
⅓ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
⅓ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 cups cooked brown rice
3 cups shredded green cabbage
3 cups shredded purple cabbage
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 cup finely diced fresh pineapple
The cooked chicken
The ginger-scallion sauce
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lime
2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced
Additional scallions, for garnish
Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
In a large resealable plastic bag (or bowl), mix together the pineapple juice, chile paste, oil, salt and pepper. Add the chicken and toss to coat in the marinade.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours. HINT: I also make the sauce and prep my veggies at this point, so that it is ready and waiting for me once the chicken is done marinating.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add another drizzle of canola oil.
Remove the chicken from the marinade, discard the marinade, and add the chicken to the skillet. Cook for 5-6 minutes per side, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the pan, allow to rest for a few minutes, and then thinly slice or shred.
Place the scallions, ginger, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Add in the sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, lime juice, sugar, oil, and red pepper flakes. Pulse until all the ingredients are mixed and the sauce is mostly smooth.
In each serving bowl, place some rice.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cabbages, romaine lettuce, bell peppers, and pineapple. Toss with roughly half of the sauce until everything is evenly coated.
Add some of the cooked chicken and the cabbage mixture to each serving bowl with rice.
Top with sliced cucumber, sliced avocado, and a drizzle of the remaining sauce. Garnish each bowl with chopped scallions and toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately.
This is the type of meal I like to prep in large batches and in stages. I marinate the chicken, cook my rice, make my sauce, and prep all my veggies the day before I plan to serve. I keep each of the components in the fridge in separate containers.
I cook the chicken and then assemble. This works really well for us on weeknights because you can easily assemble the bowls as you need them throughout the week.