This Asian style tofu coconut curry is a little Thai and a little American organic farmer’s market. It was created out of ingredients I had on hand and ended up being one of those dishes that my family couldn’t get enough of. The leftovers went fast! The creamy coconut curry is comforting with just enough heat and acidity. The textures work wonderfully, with squash-like green papaya, crunchy bean sprouts, soft marinated tofu and just-cooked Swiss chard. If you don’t have some of these ingredients available, I’ve included a variety of substitutions in the recipe.
I happen to have a papaya tree in my yard (well, I HAD one in my yard). It was so full of unripe fruit; it broke in half, leaving me with 30 or so green papayas to get creative with. I found they are delicious roasted, fried, raw and sautéed, like in this dish. Each way of preparing them brings out a different quality of this versatile fruit. I used a very green papaya this time, it should be completely white on the inside and the seeds should be white as well. When cooked, the papaya softens just enough, and the texture becomes like a turnip, taking on the flavor of whatever you cook it in. If you don’t have green papaya, substitute anything starchy like winter squash, pumpkin or sweet potato.
This is an easy dish to prepare, and healthy. The key is to cook each veggie in the right order to keep them fresh and crunchy. Before preparing this dish, remove your tofu from its container, slice it and marinate it overnight. You will be surprised at how delicious and flavorful it will be. One more note: I used yellow curry powder in this dish (not authentic Thai, but easy), accented with some herbs. If you want to be more authentic, use Thai yellow curry paste.
Yield: Serves 4-6
Serve with white or brown rice, or rice noodles.
Remove tofu from the container and slice into 1 inch cubes. Add the tofu to a plastic zip lock bag long with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 2 tablespoons of lime juice and a pinch of chili flakes. Shake bag to distribute evenly and place into the refrigerator overnight, turning once. Before cooking, drain the marinade from the tofu and place on a paper towel to dry.
To make the curry, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic and chili flakes and stir until fragrant but not browned. Add the onion, coriander, cumin, turmeric, pepper, bay leaf and curry powder. Cook until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk, stock, fish sauce,1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and brown sugar to the pan and stir to combine. Add the papaya (or substitute) to the pan and cook over medium heat, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.
While the papaya is cooking, heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan on medium high heat. Add the tofu when the oil is hot and let brown, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce and cook, turning the cubes, until they are crusted and brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add the Swiss chard to the curry and cook uncovered until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the bean sprouts, tofu cubes and lime juice and stir for 1 minute. Remove the pan from heat. Remove the bay leaf and garnish with chopped cilantro or basil. Serve over rice or noodles.
I always thought broccoli rabe (also known as raab or rapini) was a baby stalk of broccoli, but I was wrong. Because I thought this was a baby vegetable, I expected it to be sweet and delicate. Nope. Broccoli rabe is a robust, slightly bitter green that holds up to some strong flavors. This relative to broccoli loves to be smothered in garlic and good olive oil. It is a favorite vegetable in Italy and Portugal and lends itself well to pastas, spicy sausage and nutty cheese like Parmesan Reggiano. It also makes a great addition to a sandwich or pizza.
Brocolli rabe is easy to cook, but usually requires a quick blanch in boiling water before you sauté it to make sure the tougher stem is cooked through. I left most of the stem on in this dish because we like to eat every bit of this healthy veggie. If you like a more tender green, remove the stem at the point where the leaves are growing. With its dark green color and robust flavor, you know this veggie is healthy for you. Dr. Axe listed it #2 on his list of Top 10 Superfoods because it’s, “packed with potassium, iron and calcium, dietary fiber and as well as Vitamins A, C and K. Broccoli rabe also contains lutein, which is an antioxidant that protects the retinas of your eyes from damage caused by free radicals.”
Along with the nutritional benefits of broccoli rabe, I love how it looks on a plate. It’s elegant and wild at the same time. This is a veggie that impresses. I served this batch with roasted pork loin and shallot, tarragon cream for our Sunday dinner. I like to go all out on the weekend and cook something that is out of the ordinary and has the bonus of leftovers. Usually it’s a perfectly roasted chicken. Sometimes it’s a duck. For this occasion I had a gorgeous organic boneless pork loin roast from Sea Breeze Organic Farm in Fort Pierce, Florida. A good roast deserves a great vegetable and broccoli rabe fit the bill.
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yield: Serves 4
Adapted from Maria’s Broccoli Rabe.
Trim off most of the broccoli rabe stem. Blanch in boiling water 5 minutes until it becomes bright green and slightly wilted. Remove from water with a strainer.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and pepper flakes and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe and continue to stir and cook for 12-15 minutes until leaves are wilted and stems are tender.
I have a fondness for mustard greens, mostly because they challenge me to like them. I buy them because they look so beautiful, with their light green, frilly leaves that look so fresh. They beat kale in appearance any day. To eat them, however, you have to love a little spice in your food because mustard greens don’t mess around. You can’t hide them in garlic or dressing. Eat them raw and you’ll get a mustardy kick in your mouth. This is why they earned my respect as a green.
Mustard greens are the green or purple top leaves harvested from the mustard plant. This crunchy green is extremely nutritious; high in vitamins A, C and K. I like sautéed mustard greens in olive oil and garlic with a touch of sugar to mellow their bitterness. Mustard greens are also delicious stewed Southern style with some smoked ham and apple cider vinegar. You can also bake them to make mustard green chips or add them sparingly to a salad.
To prepare them, wash well in water. The curled leaf variety can hold a good amount of dirt in the leaves. If the leaves are large, remove the tough stem. Then cut or tear the leaves into small pieces.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
This recipe was made with young, spring greens. Cook longer if you are using late season greens.
In a large skillet, saute onion in olive oil on medium heat until tender, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute.
Add mustard greens, broth, vinegar and sugar. Add greens and let wilt in batches if they don't all fit in the pan at once.
When greens are wilted, sprinkle with sesame oil. Add salt and pepper and toss. Serve immediately topped with toasted sesame seeds (optional).
Kale is riding high on the food trend wave, almost to the point of overkill. While I love the nutritional benefits; I haven’t found a recipe that blows my socks off. I still eat kale regularly. It keeps for a long time in the refrigerator and makes a decent sauteed green (though I prefer Swiss chard). In this case I had a getting-old-but-still-good bunch of organic kale, a perfectly ripe Florida avocado and some fancy anchovies in the fridge. I thought to myself, “How wonderful and brilliant would a kale Caesar with creamy avocado dressing be?” Apparently, I’m not that brilliant. A quick search on Google and I found a few variations of the recipe.
To save myself some time inventing yet another version of the recipe, I gave this recipe by Emily from Five and Spice (a recipe she adapted from In Pat’s Kitchen via Food52) a shot, adding big pieces of shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, heirloom yellow tomato, avocado chunks and whole wheat croutons made from leftover breakfast toast.
The salad was delicious, but I still prefer the crunchy sweetness of Romaine lettuce. So why should you try it? I can think of three good reasons: First, like me, you probably have an aging bunch of kale in your fridge. Second, it keeps much longer than a traditional Caesar; even dressed. Third, you get the sweet satisfaction of feeding yourself and your family a healthier meal.
A note: If you are using a Florida avocado, use only half of one in the dressing.
Using a food processor, pulse together the anchovies, garlic, Worcestershire, and Dijon until the garlic is finely chopped. Add the avocado, lemon and mayonnaise. Blend until very smooth. Add a little water 1 teaspoon at a time if the dressing is too thick.
In a bowl, stir together the dressing and Parmesan cheese. Cover with plastic wrap so the surface is touching (to prevent browning). Refrigerate until chilled.
Wash and dry the kale, removing the ribs with a knife. Slice into thin, bite-sized pieces.
Add the kale to a bowl and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Using your hands, rub the kale pieces in the salt for a few minutes.
Toss the kale in the dressing (use a little or a lot) and top with fresh black pepper, croutons and extra cheese.
Drizzle bread cubes with olive oil and bake in a 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes or until crusty and brown.
I’ve been making baby food for my little one since he started to eat solids at six months. I started with a book of recipes, but soon left the book on the shelf to create my own. Now that he’s 8 months old, I sometimes just puree what we are having for dinner. He loves variety and I can see the excitement on his face when he tries new foods. He’s already had every type of seasonal organic fruit and veggie I could get my hands on, plus yogurt, cheese, beef, chicken, rabbit, lamb, octopus and fish. That’s quite a good start for my little foodie-in-training!
This recipe is a basic one I keep on hand, changing the ingredients according to what I find at the market. Something I like to do is roast my veggies instead of boil them. The flavor is much more intensified, because the water is removed from the veggies as they roast. Quinoa is a great way to add protein and it cooks faster than other grains.I bump up the protein and flavor by cooking it in chicken broth.
Roast the sweet potato and apple whole without oil in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. You should see juice coming out of the potato and the apple skin blistering. Remove from the oven and let cool.
In a pan, combine the quinoa, thinly sliced carrots and chicken broth. Add any seasonings like ginger and cinnamon here. Simmer covered for about 15 minutes. You will know the quinoa is done when little sprouts pop out from the seeds and the liquid is absorbed. Carrots should be fork tender. Let cool.
Peel the skin from the sweet potato and apple. It should come right off in your hand. Slice the apple from the core. Combine all ingredients in a food processor (I use a Cuisinart mini prep for this job). Blend until smooth, adding additional liquid until you get the consistency you like.