30-Minute Dinner: Orange Sesame Chicken with Whole-Wheat Noodles

Photo by Becca Boyd

Photo by Becca Boyd

I love one-bowl dinners on weeknights, especially ones that lack arbitrary, hard-to-find ingredients. This one is light and healthy, uses easy-to-find ingredients (in fact, I bet most of them are in your pantry and fridge right now), and is a surefire crowd-pleaser. Case in point: My two-year-old daughter devoured it—bonus!

While I served this dish warm for dinner, the leftovers, eaten cold, were reminiscent of those deliciously greasy sesame noodles that I always want to buy but bypass as I reach for the shrimp-and-veggie summer rolls. (Sometimes, it’s hard to be a good girl.)

This meal should take you no more than 30 minutes to throw together, and it could take you even less; you just have to work efficiently. Get the water boiling for the pasta and chop your veggies. When your pasta is cooking, whisk the liquids and sauté the veggies and chicken. If your prep-and-cooking minutes are nonstop (i.e., you’re not stopping every three seconds to fake-eat your child’s fake-cupcake creation, like I did), this meal could be done in 20 minutes.

And by the way, for my gluten-free friends, rice noodles would be fabulous as a stand-in. Make a double batch and enjoy a few guilt-free lunches at work.

Orange Sesame Chicken with Whole-Wheat Noodles
Serves four

8 oz. (half a package) whole-wheat spaghetti (or rice noodles, if you’re gluten-free)
3/4 c. fresh orange juice (about two oranges)
3 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 tbsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 red onion, diced
16 oz. chicken (about 2 large breasts), cut into large chunks and sprinkled with salt and pepper
2 scallions, thinly sliced


1. Bring water to boil for noodles in large saucepan filled two-thirds of the way. Add 1 tsp. salt to water. Add pasta once boiling and cook until al dente (about 10 minutes). Before draining, reserve 1/3 c. pasta cooking water.

2. Meanwhile, whisk orange juice, soy sauce, cornstarch, garlic powder, crushed red pepper and brown sugar in a small bowl. Add reserved cooking water from Step 1 to mixture.

3. Set a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sesame seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and light brown (should take just a few minutes; watch carefully). Remove from pan to small bowl.

4. Add olive oil to now empty skillet. Add pepper and onion and sauté briefly, two to three minutes. Add chicken and sauté until golden brown and cooked through.

5. Add cooked pasta and orange juice mixture to veggies/chicken and use tongs to combine.

Per serving (with whole-wheat noodles): 360 calories, 9.7 fat grams (including 1.9 grams saturated fat), 87 milligrams cholesterol, 527 milligrams sodium, 508 milligrams potassium, 29.6 grams carbs, 4.8 grams dietary fiber, 7.7 grams sugar, 38.4 grams protein.


Becca Boyd is a wife and mom who creates healthy and delicious recipes in her West Chester kitchen. She blogs about them on her website, Home Beccanomics.

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