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.
A papaya tree in my backyard was so heavy with fruit; it broke in half, leaving me with 30 or so green papayas all ripening at the same time. This is our second crop of fruit from this tree, and we have learned to eat papaya in many nontraditional ways. We love to eat it while it is still green. It makes a delicious, crunchy addition to salads like in a traditional Thai green papaya salad. I’ve also prepared green papaya stewed like a potato in curry dishes, fried and roasted, like this recipe.
There are varying ripeness levels of a green papaya, each appropriate for different ways of cooking. I’ve found that a very young papaya isn’t ideal for roasting. It lacks any flavor. For this dish, you want the papaya to be green on the outside, with just a touch of yellow near the top. When you slice it open, there should be a faint blush of coral, with the seeds mostly dark grey.
At this stage, the papaya is still firm. When you roast it, the sugars will intensify and the resulting glossy chunks will have a divine taste and texture that is a cross between a peach and a butternut squash. This is nothing like the papaya you know! I can think of a bunch of ways you can use your roasted papaya. Serve it for breakfast with vanilla Greek yogurt, add it in a savory sauce to pair with tropical pork tenderloin or sprinkle it with brown sugar and cinnamon for dessert. I bet it would even be good in a pie!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
Peel the skin from the papaya and split in half lengthwise. With a spoon, scrape out the seeds and any membrane. Cut the papaya in slices 1-inch thick, or 1-inch cubes. Arrange in a single layer on a backing sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat.
Roast for approximately 20 minutes, until papaya is tender and lightly browned.
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.
This delicious dish with wild salmon and dill sauce paired with black Forbidden Rice and simple green salad is full of healthy, antioxidant-rich ingredients. It’s low in saturated fat and high in omega-3 fatty acids. The taste is luxurious. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!
Salmon is one of my favorite fish, but I have been steering away from Atlantic farm raised salmon for a while now due to the environmental impact of the farms and health concerns from chemical additives. When I can find fresh, wild salmon, I jump to purchase it. If you don’t eat a lot of wild salmon, the first think you’ll notice it the color. It’s usually much darker. To get that familiar pink color in farmed fish, they actually have to add carotene to the feed. Wild salmon is also more flavorful; unlike the near tasteless farmed variety. It can get confusing choosing which type of seafood is safe and good for the environment, which is why I love the site, seafood.edf.org, for great information on what types of seafood are safe to eat.
One of my favorite parts of salmon is the skin. I could eat it just by itself. It’s chewy, oily, crispy deliciousness. And when I start to think about all of that oil, I remind myself that it’s GOOD fat. Yes, this is the part of the fish loaded with omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation and may just lower your risks of chronic disease. So, embrace this fatty treat and revel in its goodness. If you are one of those people who peel your fish skin off in disgust, give it another try. It may just be that it wasn’t cooked properly. The skin should be seasoned well, and really crispy. There’s a technique to this, and it’s pretty easy to get results like the best restaurants.
I paired the fish with black rice, also known as Forbidden rice. This heirloom rice was once grown just for Chinese nobility and can now be found in 4 pound bags on Amazon. I love the dramatic color, and prefer the complex, nutty flavor and chewy texture of black rice to brown. It has virtually the same antioxidant-rich bran as brown rice, but with the added health benefits of anthocyanins, pigments that produce the dark color. According to a report presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, “Just a spoonful of black rice bran contains more health promoting anthocyanin antioxidants than are found in a spoonful of blueberries, but with less sugar and more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants,” said Zhimin Xu, Associate Professor at the Department of Food Science at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center in Baton Rouge, La.
With this dish, I also included a mixture of organic baby greens from the market. I love SUPERGREENS! from Organicgirl. It has a colorful and healthy mix of red chard, Swiss chard and arugula. Tossed in a simple vinaigrette; it’s an easy and healthy side.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 2 servings
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
To prepare the salmon, season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fillets to the pan, skin side down. Cook until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the filets from the pan and transfer them to a baking sheet, skin side up. Place the fish in the oven and cook about 5-6 minutes more, until medium rare in the center and flaky on the outside.
To make the sauce, combine yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil and dill. Season with salt and pepper
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 36 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
To prepare the rice, rinse under cold water. Saute shallots in olive oil until tender, but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, 1 minute. Add shallot mixture, rice, stock, salt and pepper to a rice cooker. This is the time to stick your finger in the pot and taste the seasoning of the stock to make sure it tastes good. Now close the lid and allow to cook roughly 35 minutes. When the rice is cooked, add the lemon juice and stir.
This recipe makes enough vinaigrette for a few salads. Use just a splash for the amount of vegetable in this dish and save the rest for later.
Whisk together ingredients in a large bowl. Toss salad greens in the vinaigrette and serve.