Lime & Chili Chicken, Black Beans and Spaghetti Squash for Lunch

Chili Lime ChickenIf you work in New York City, chances are you eat at one of the following places weekly or even daily: Pret a Manger, Subway, Chipotle, Hale and Hearty, Local Crappy Chinese. If you’re like me, then you’re totally sick of tasteless tuna, bad deli meat and giant burrito bowls that make you feel like death. The only solution is to call in the big guns. Yes, that’s right, make your own lunch for once. It’s really not that hard, I promise.

You’ll need a bit of time. But you’ll be saving yourself money, calories and literally adding years to your life. Maybe not years, but by just eating protein, fiber and vegetables you’ll  be full and happy. Lunch is really the only thing I have to look forward to while sifting through the morning deluge of emails relating tales of various printing crises and angry authors who haven’t been paid.

And when lunch is bad- my whole afternoon is ruined. I try and bring my lunch three times a week both to save money but also to preserve a little culinary dignity and not subject my poor mouth to another tasteless $14.00 salad from Chop’t.

This meal will take a little bit of effort, especially if you use dried beans- but it’s soooo worth it for the slightly firm texture. Chicken, beans and a vegetable – it doesn’t get much healthier than that. With some clever marinating and few bold flavors – just a few ingredients will make this meal the envy of your office.

I’ve also made a shopping list for you. It’s best to do you shopping on Saturday, so you can soak the beans and marinate the chicken overnight for your kitchen time on Sunday. This will make lunch-sized servings. You’ll have a ton of leftover beans – so plan for taco night later in the week.

Lime & Chili Chicken

Makes 3 servings

You will need:

1 1/2 lbs. chicken cutlets (about 9 small, thin stripes)

1 lime

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 dash of pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 dried Ancho chili

1 teaspoon olive oil

Method:

1. Put everything in gallon-sized plastic  bag and marinate for 12 hours

2. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 of the olive oil and fry 1/2 of the chicken. Cook for 5 minutes on each side until browned and cooked through. Repeat until all the chicken is cooked.

Lime and Chili Chicken

Black Beans

Makes 6 servings (you will have extra beans)

1 package black beans (1 lb.)

1 bay leaf

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 Ancho chili, broken into small pieces

1 teaspoon olive or canola oil

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1. Soak the beans over night in a large bowl overnight (or at least 8 hours). Rinse the beans several times and drain.

2. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven or tall pot with a lid. Add the onions, garlic and chili pieces and stir for about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaf and beans along with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 1 hour.  After 30 minutes, add the paprika and continue cooking.

3. Taste beans for doneness and add salt and pepper as needed. Continue cooking if they seem hard. Can take up to an hour and 30 minutes depending on how hot your pan is and other unexplainable factors.

Spaghetti Squash

Makes 3 servings

You will need:

1 spaghetti squash (about 2 lbs)

1 teaspoon cumin

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon chopped parsley

1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 375. Cut the stem off the squash so you have a flat end to steady it while you slice it in half. Place the squash in a glass baking dish, face down. Pour 1 inch of water in the pan and carefully transfer to the oven.

2. Cook for 30 minutes. Carefully remove the dish from the over and let the squash cool for at least 20 minutes. Using a fork, remove the squash strands and set aside.

3. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the squash strands, cumin, parsley and pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes until the squash begins to brown. Serve in a bowl with the beans and a few pieces of chicken.

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