A colourful bowl of goodness to brighten up your lunchbox
This is a great recipe to prepare ahead for weekday lunchboxes. You can easily substitute the chicken for tofu or prawns, and if you can’t get hold of freekeh, then brown rice is a good alternative. Use any combination of vegetables you want, just make sure they’re colourful.
1 large carrot
1 x 2-inch piece of cucumber
Large handful of sugar snap peas
3 spring onions
¼ red cabbage
1 red pepper
½ large ripe mango
Handful of cashew nuts
1 tbsp sesame seeds
For the chicken marinade:
4 chicken thighs
2 tsp ground turmeric
Juice and zest of ½ lime
½ tsp ground black pepper
Thumb nail-size piece of ginger, grated
1 large garlic clove
For the freekeh:
½ red onion
2 garlic cloves
Thumb nail size piece of ginger
½ red chilli
1 tbsp vegetable oil
For the satay sauce:
3 heaped tsp of nut butter (see my recipe)
150ml coconut milk
1 tbsp honey
Soy sauce/tamari to taste, around 1-2 tbsp
Juice of ½ lime
Start by making the marinade for the chicken. Place the thighs in a bowl along with the turmeric, lime zest and juice, black pepper and grated ginger and garlic. Mix everything together, then cover with clingfilm and keep in the fridge for 1 hour while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
For the freekeh, soak the grain in some cold water for 5 mins. Finely chop the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over a medium flame and sweat the onion for around 5 mins, until soft. Add the remaining ingredients and fry for a further 2 mins.
Drain the water from the freekeh then add to the saucepan for 1 min before adding enough boiling water to cover. Add a good pinch of salt and leave to simmer for around 10-15 mins. The freekeh will absorb the water.
Taste to check the seasoning and also the grain. If the grain still feels a little hard, then add more water and leave to simmer for a further 5 mins before checking again. The freekeh should have a little bite to it, but shouldn’t be hard and the water should all be absorbed. You can cool the freekeh before serving or serve hot.
While the freekeh is cooking, prepare your vegetables. Peel the carrot into ribbons, dice the cucumber into cubes, slice the sugar snaps and the spring onions on the diagonal, shred the red cabbage and thinly slice the red pepper, mango and avocado.
Cook your chicken on a griddle pan, brushed with a little vegetable oil. Grill the chicken for around 5-7 mins on each side, depending on how thick your thighs are and check that the chicken is cooked through before serving.
While the chicken is cooking, gently heat all the satay sauce ingredients over a low heat until smooth and silky. Adjust the consistency by adding more coconut milk and the seasoning by adding more honey and/or soy sauce. Keep warm until needed. Finely chop the cashew nuts.
To assemble, divide the freekeh between 4 plates (or 4 lunchboxes), thinly slice the chicken and place on top of the freekeh. Arrange the vegetables and fruit alongside and squeeze a little lime juice over everything. Finish with a drizzle of satay sauce and garnish with the sesame seeds and chopped cashew nuts. Add salt to taste if needed.
Recipe: Beca Lyne-Pirkis