Springtime Asparagus and Peanut Chicken Fried Rice

fried rice with chicken and asparagus
Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE
Total Time 30 min
Prep 10 min, Cook 20 min
Yield 4 2-cup servings (362 cals)

Craving takeout? You can have this healthy fried brown rice with chicken and asparagus on the dinner table in 30 minutes, about the same amount of time you’d wait for delivery. This recipe swaps fiber-rich brown rice for white rice, which helps keep you full and keeps blood sugar steady.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
  • 1 pound chicken breast, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • ½ yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 carrot, trimmed and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 cups chopped asparagus, from approximately a 1-pound bunch
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice, chilled
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • ¾ cup frozen green peas

Preparation

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add chicken and cook until golden on all sides and cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside in a bowl.

  2. Wipe skillet clean. Add remaining tablespoon oil to the skillet and heat on medium-high. Add onion, carrot, garlic, and ginger. Saute 2 to 3 minutes until onion is translucent. Stir in asparagus and ⅓ cup water, scraping up any browned bits at the bottom. Cook until asparagus is tender but still bright green and water has evaporated, about 5 minutes.

  1. Stir in rice and soy sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly crispy and warmed through, about 5 minutes total. Stir in peas and cook an additional minute to warm through.

Ingredient Variations and Substitutions

If you’re usually not a fan of the heavier flavor of brown rice, you may be surprised to find you like it in this dish. The nutty flavor of brown rice is brought out by a quick stir fry in peanut oil. However, if you’re still not sold, you could try a mix of white and brown rice or make this with white rice.

Think of this quick and easy recipe as a template for making grain and vegetable stir fries. Look beyond rice and try different whole grains. Quinoa is packed with protein and has the same fluffy texture. Millet has a mild flavor that many people who do not enjoy brown rice will find pleasant. You could even make this with other whole grains like farro or spelt grains, which lend a nutty flavor and chewy texture from their larger grains.

To make this dish vegan, swap cubes of tofu for the chicken. You may want to marinate it first or toss with a seasoning spice, like lemon pepper seasoning. Tofu by itself is pretty bland. You could also make this with chunks of pork tenderloin or lean ham.

For gluten-free fried rice, use tamari instead of soy sauce.

Tamari is a soy sauce made from only soybeans rather than a blend of soy and wheat. If you are allergic to soy, look for coconut aminos, which has a similar umami flavor.

Feel free to use any combination of vegetables you or your family enjoy! I’ve made this with zucchini, green beans, broccoli, and peppers—whatever is on sale or seasonal at the grocery store.

For those with peanut allergies, make this with sesame oil, which adds a similar nutty flavor, or your favorite neutral flavored oil, like canola or avocado oil. Avoid olive oil, which is too strongly flavored for this dish.

Cooking and Serving Tips

The most important part of this dish is making sure your brown rice is cold, otherwise it will get a gluey, pasty consistency. Prepare it the night before and keep it refrigerated, or use frozen, precooked brown rice, heated in the microwave for just a minute to defrost. Fun fact: cooking and cooling rice allows more resistant starch to form, so it has less of an effect on blood sugar.

I like to serve this with steamed or stir fried green beans tossed with a little soy sauce, ginger, and sesame seeds.

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