Sometimes it’s OK to Cheat

OK, “cheating” may be too strong of a word, but we all have (many) times when we cut corners and don’t make a meal from total scratch. Check out my version of a quick stir-fry using a store-bought simmer sauce that’s chock full of flavor and less time-consuming. So what’s to complain about?

I don’t often promote specific brands in my food blog, but in this case, the “cheat” element is Trader Joe’s Thai Basil Green Curry Simmer Sauce—the basis of which contains coconut milk and lemongrass, two Thai staples—however, use whatever suits your fancy. As far as the produce, try to incorporate a mix of colors for both the visual impact and nutrient value.


Our organic garden was bursting with herbs and green beans so I wanted to use a few of them in a stir-fry meal—and you all know I adore Thai cuisine. So the backbone for it started with our abundance of Thai basil and the beans, a jar of that sauce in our pantry, and removal of the chicken breasts from our freezer. A quick trip to the supermarket for the other veggies completed the list of ingredients.

My man Russ is the ultimate stir-fry machine. He can wok those veggies and meats around like nobody’s business. So when it comes to stir-fries, I act as sous chef prepping everything in advance (a must), and then he takes over and does his magic.

This recipe acts as a blueprint to adapt as you please, so feel free to alter your ingredient choices, but stick to the approximate amounts for balance.


Lynn's Quick Thai Stir-Fry

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 3 Tbsp. peanut oil
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4″ pieces
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, stemmed and cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 6 oz. fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 yellow and 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 3/4″ pieces
  • 3 large scallions, whites cut into 1″ pieces, greens thinly sliced at a diagonal for garnish
  • 2 Tbsp. Thai basil, roughly chopped and divided into two equal parts
  • 1 12 oz. jar Thai simmer sauce, like Trader Joe’s Thai Green Curry or a similar product
  • 1/4 cup roasted unsalted cashews, roughly chopped
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • Jasmine rice, preferably steamed with homemade chicken stock


  1. Heat a large wok over medium-high heat. In the meantime cook the rice according to package directions.
  2. Add 1 Tbsp. of peanut oil and swirl around wok.
  3. Add green beans, bell peppers and scallion whites to hot wok, stir continuously for about 4 minutes.
  4. Add 2 Tbsp. of water to wok and cover for about 4 minutes, stirring once, until veggies are crisp tender. Transfer to large bowl.
  5. Put another tbsp. of oil into wok and when hot, add mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Flip continuously for several minutes until starting to brown then transfer to bowl with other vegetables.
  6. Add last Tbsp. of oil to wok and when hot, add chicken pieces and season lightly with salt and pepper. Spread out into one layer and leave undisturbed for about 2 minutes, then turn continuously with spatula until opaque and cooked through.
  7. Lower heat and add jar of Thai sauce to chicken, stir and let sit for 1 minute. Add all of the veggies back to the wok with the chicken, stir in half of the basil and let reheat for 1 final minute.
  8. Divide rice into 4 to 6 bowls, ladle stir-fry over rice and garnish with scallion greens, chopped cashews and remaining basil. Add a sprinkle of finishing salt.

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