I have a shiny object problem when it comes to recipes. My first impulse is to run to the store and load my cart with new ingredients rather than open my pantry door and let its contents guide our meals. A few weeks ago, I challenged myself to see what recipes I could develop without leaving my kitchen. Today’s one-pan Chipotle Chicken Skillet with Sweet Potatoes and Chickpeas is the first of several make-it-up pantry meals I’m excited to share with you!
When I began cooking for myself, I quickly learned the value of a keeping a few pantry staples in stock so that (in theory) I could always pull together a healthy meal, even on the busiest weeknight. It served me well, but now that I’m cooking more frequently, I’ve noticed a bit of an issue with my once-reliable strategy.
I never actually use them.
About This Chipotle Chicken Skillet
Instead of relying on the friendly cans of black beans and chickpeas, expertly frozen chicken breasts, and long-lasting root veggies like onions and sweet potatoes that I so faithfully stock, I fall prey to the “shiny object” phenomenon.
Rather than start with my pantry, I start with my cravings. I’m distracted by a new recipe idea, or I don’t diligently check my pantry for what we already have in stock before I head to the store. The result is that, every week, our pantry becomes a little fuller…and my grocery bill becomes a little (or a lot) higher.
While I adore trying new recipes, both to share here and to enjoy at home, I need to make good use of my prestocked staples instead of starting from zero and filling our kitchen with all-new ingredients.
For the sake of my grocery bill—and to quiet the 15 cans of chickpeas giving me the stink eye from our pantry shelf—I decided to see what recipes I could create using only the ingredients I had on hand. I’d allow myself to purchase fresh vegetables and fruits to supplement them, but all of the dry ingredients needed to come from my pantry.
Results: DELICIOUS! As it turns out, the ingredients I keep stuffing into my pantry are (surprise!) ones I really love. They are also relatively inexpensive and easy to find. You might even have a few on your pantry shelves too.
I also felt like I didn’t need to give up on variety. This Chipotle Chicken Skillet with Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, and Chickpeas was completely new to our table, but its ingredients have been in my kitchen all along.
- Chicken. You can almost always find a pack of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs in my freezer for fast dinners. If I don’t have the foresight to thaw them the night before (um, this happens a lot), I’ll thaw the pack in a bowl of cold water over the course of a few hours or (gasp!) use the microwave’s defrost setting.
- Chickpeas. Low-sodium canned beans are among my top pantry must-haves. They cost around $1 and add instant protein, fiber, and other nutrients to salads, pastas, and simple skillet meals like this one.
- Chipotle Peppers in Adobo. These might seem to be a bit more of an exotic ingredient, but they are available in the Hispanic food section of most grocery stores. Once you start using them, you’ll see that this tiny and inexpensive little can is PACKED with deep, smoky flavor. Add them to any Tex-Mex meal for an instant boost. You’ll likely have some leftover from the can, which you can put in a ziptop bag and freeze for later OR use to make any of these recipes. My extra peppers from this Chipotle Chicken Skillet went towards a fresh batch of Avocado Burgers.
- Sweet Potatoes. I buy one or two sweet potatoes every week. In the winter, I roast them for a quick side, and in the summer, I turn them into Grilled Sweet Potato Fries. If I don’t use the sweet potatoes right away, they can last a few weeks in a cool, dark space.
- Lemons and Limes. I always keep some in my refrigerator to add a hit of freshness to any recipe. A quick squirt of lime juice in this recipe wakes up its flavors.
- Tomatoes, Cilantro, Green Onions. These are the fresh items you will need for this Chipotle Chicken Skillet recipe. If you happen to have a garden of summer tomatoes, or, like me, can’t stop yourself from buying a pint of sweet cherry tomatoes every time you enter the grocery store, then you can consider tomatoes checked off your list.
From my pantry, to yours: Chipotle Chicken Skillet with Sweet Potatoes, Chickpeas, and Tomatoes. What are the staple items you keep in your pantry? I’d love to hear about them! Leave a comment below and let me know.
More Chicken Skillet Recipes
- Harvest Chicken Skillet with Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts
- Lemon Basil Chicken
- Apple Cider Chicken
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
Chipotle Chicken Skillet with Sweet Potatoes and Chickpeas
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt divided
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper divided
- 1 tablespoon sauce from canned chipotle chiles in adobo, plus additional to taste
- 1 medium sweet potato peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 10 ounces)
- 1 to 2 whole chipotle peppers from canned chipotle peppers in adobo diced (I used 2, and the recipe had a pretty good kick—use less if more sensitive to spice)
- 1 can low-sodium chickpeas (15 ounces), rinsed and drained
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
- 3 medium green onions chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 tablespoons lime juice about 1/2 lime
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro optional
- Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium high, until hot and shimmering. Add the chicken, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Cook until lightly browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the 1 tablespoon adobo sauce and let cook 30 additional seconds. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the sweet potatoes to the skillet. Cook until the sweet potatoes are browned and slightly tender, about 6 minutes. Add the diced chipotle peppers, chickpeas, tomatoes, and green onion. Cook until the chickpeas are hot and the tomatoes begin to lose their shape, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the chicken back to the skillet and pour the lime juice over the top. Stir to combine. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve warm.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently in the microwave.
- Make it vegetarian (or vegan!): Omit the chicken and swap it for an additional can of chickpeas or add another bean, such as pinto beans, light or dark red kidney beans, or black beans.
- Extra chipotle peppers in adobe? You can freeze the leftovers in a ziptop bag, or use them to make any of these recipes.
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