I wanted something on the table in 30 minutes – follow me! And, if the “kick” part scares you, leave out anything hot that is mentioned. Read recipe first to get your bearings.
Get the following ready: 2 or 3 breasts of chicken sliced thinly, 1 onion (diced) or 1 bunch of scallions (green onions, cut, including green parts), 1 carrot thinly sliced (or not), 3 cloves garlic chopped fine, 1 jalapeno pepper sliced or chopped fine (I always slice a bit of the pepper off and put it to my tongue to test how hot it is. Some can be really mild and some really hot. If it is hot I may decide to add less. I do not remove seeds and veins as it’s too much bother, but you can if you like – it will reduce the heat factor. I like all those little seeds floating around in my bowl!), juice from 1 lime, 1 monster bunch of spinach (washed but no need to dry as it’s going into liquid), OR if spinach just isn’t your thing you could use 1 cup of peas (baby frozen work great and an easy thing to keep on hand in your freezer), 4 cups chicken broth (or water and chicken or veggie bouillon cube if you don’t have broth), more water as needed, a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger root minced (1 tbs or so & I use the small option on my grater to do the job) cayenne pepper flakes (add as much as you like but start out with 1/8 tsp and go from there). AND, about 4 cups (1 per person or a little less)of tortellini – I used a six cheese tortellini that I keep frozen in the fridge (no, not fresh stuff that I laboriously made and froze!). sometimes I use a tri-color variety or even a ravioli. I buy it from the fridge section of the supermarket (or I suppose you could buy frozen tortellini?) and then I freeze it for times like this – very handy item indeed.
OK – time to put your big saute pan on the stove-top on medium heat. If you are stuck for the right pan, you could probably get away with a 3 or 4 qt sauce/soup pot? Don’t get too worried about the pot. Just use a little logic( 4 to 6 cups liquid with chicken and vegetables, hmmmmm? grab a pot or pan!). Add some olive oil (extra virgin is fine too) to your pan (2 tbs) and give it a minute to warm. Add the onions or scallions and garlic and let soften for 3 or so minutes. Add the jalapeno & carrots and give another stir. Season with some salt, pepper and the cayenne flakes. Add broth, lime juice and ginger, stir and let the pot come to a simmer. Cover and simmer for about 4 minutes. Add chicken and cook for a further 5 minutes and then tip in tortellini and peas (if using). If you want more liquid add it now – sometimes I want it to be soupier. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes and then keep testing pasta (by tasting) until it’s to your liking. It only takes 3 or 4 minutes to cook so don’t forget about it. Pull off heat and add spinach. Let it wilt for a couple of minutes before ladling into shallow bowls. I like to top with some more pepper flakes or even a dollop of chili garlic sauce (gets the nose dripping!). Also, some chopped cilantro gives it something special in the flavor department. A happy meal!