Kale Curry & Pan Fried Tofu with Rice

Kale: of the Red Russian variety to be specific

Kale. It’s trendy, it’s wildly popular, everyone knows what it is and what they want to cook with it. You probably know where I’m going with this already, but there’s more to the story of this crop! Red Russian kale, the variety we like to grow best out here at Stonecrop Garden, is a lot less well known than it’s curly and dino (lacinato) relatives. In fact, at market people sometimes ask us what Red Russian Kale is (if I forget to bring my tabletop signs) because it looks so different from what people expect to see when they hear the word “kale.”

Why do we bother to grow this lesser known variety? Well, it’s because it grows quite a bit faster than the other types, and it is often more tender and delicious (in our opinion, of course). If you’ve never tried Red Russian kale, I highly recommend you head out to your local Farmers’ Market and get some. Be sure to also buy any other kale varieties you see and try them all to see which one you prefer! I’d love to hear your which one you like best!

Okay, we’ve established that we grow kale in the market garden. What’s it like to grow? Well, it’s a lot like collard greens & other members of the brassica family. We start it in early March (or late February) in the greenhouse and tend to it for about a month until the ground is ready to be worked outside. Once the kale has reached a good transplanting size, we move it out to the field in beds with two rows, keeping the plants at least a foot apart. We’ve seen other farms grow them with three rows per bed, and want to try this out but have been hesitant to mess with a good thing. As you may know, brassicas are beloved by flea beetles, so we use frost cloth to cover the kale and protect it from any damage. The good news is that this extra hassle also helps speed up growth in the cooler spring months, so after a weeding or two and about a months time after transplant, you’re ready to enjoy the most tender, flavorful spring green in abundance. Like collards too, you can pull the largest leaves from the outside of the plant and let it keep producing new greens for you for a long while. Yum!

Alright, so by now you’ve added kale to your garden plans for next year. All that’s left is deciding what to do with it besides a simple sautee or raw addition to salad (which are the most amazing staples, might I add). If you’re like me, perhaps you’ve just sauteed kale too many times and now you want to branch out! Well, I have good news for you! This kale curry recipe with pan fried tofu and rice will catapult you out of the realm of standard kale dishes. It is so loaded with spices that as I added them to the dish I hesitated, wondering if I should half the amounts. Fortunately, I chose to trust the recipe instead and was so grateful I did. While we didn’t have every ingredient from the original and definitely made some substitutions, I was really happy with this dish! It was unusual (for me) since I don’t often use turmeric, allspice or coconut milk with kale. I made the rice with a little coconut & rice milk to add a lil somethin to it, and pan fried the tofu in olive oil and a hint of earth balance (because we didn’t have any coconut oil).

Food photographer I am not. Kale curry & pan fried tofu with rice enthusiant, I am!

Food photographer I am not. Kale curry & pan fried tofu with rice enthusiant, I am!

Here’s the original recipe inspiration: https://www.happyveggiekitchen.com/kale-paneer-curry/

Below is the recipe as we prepared it, with all of the modifications written in:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 an onion, sliced

  • 4 garlic cloves, diced

  • 2 tsp ginger

  • 1 tsp cumin

  • 1 tsp ground coriander

  • 1 tsp tumeric

  • 1 1/2 tsp allspice

  • 4 Tbsp tomato paste

  • 2 Tbsp of earth balance

  • 1 bunch of chopped kale

  • 1 can of full fat coconut milk (I ended up only using about 3/4 can)

  • 1 container super firm tofu sliced into cubes or strips

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a skillet or wide saucepan, heat a little vegetable oil and lightly saute the onion until softened (about seven minutes). Add the garlic and ginger and saute for another few minutes until everything is cooked and fragrant.

  2. Add half of the butter to the pan, followed by all of the spices, and cook until the butter is melted.

  3. Add the tomato paste.

  4. Now add about a third of the kale. Saute until the kale is wilted, and continue adding kale in batches. The pan may get dry as you do this, so scoop in some of the coconut milk as you go to add moisture and help the kale to wilt.

  5. Once the kale is all cooked, add the rest of the coconut milk and mix thoroughly.

  6. Now add the entire mixture to a blender or food processor and pulse until the kale is almost pureed but still has some texture. Alternatively, if your dish is deep enough you can use an immersion blender to achieve this, which is much easier.

  7. While the kale curry is in the blender, add the other Tbsp of earth balance to the pan with a Tbsp of oil and heat to med high to pan fry the tofu. 

  8. Serve with rice and/or naan bread.

Please let me know what you thought of this recipe! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Red Russian kale, quite a different look from lacinato or curly.

Red Russian kale, quite a different look from lacinato or curly.

Danielle Keeter