Perusing the seeds display at the market last spring, I tossed into my cart a packet Tuscan Kale. I hadn’t thought much about the garden yet, but for $1.29, it seemed worth the potential. In March I planted them in the shadiest spot in the garden… primarily because I wanted to save the limited, but prime sunny locations for the cherished tomatoes. I also know that greens don’t like the heat, and I hoped that the cooler location would prevent the kale from going to seed in the summer – turning the plant bitter and grinding production to a halt.
I planted 4 rows and harvest my first bunch in June. Since then, I’ve been cooking up kale as a side dish for many meals… sautéed in all manner (with bacon, garlic and chile flakes, and mushrooms) and pureed in dumplings. I even froze 6 quart bags of wilted leaves. And now into the first week of fall, the plants show no sign of weakening. They survived the heat, the rains, the drought and the aphids.
You better believe it’s going in again next year! Talk about bang for your buck.
Last night I made a favorite dish that straddles fall and summer… a Balinese inspired curry with kale, sweet potatoes and tomatoes. The kale and tomatoes came from the garden (as well as the scallion garnish).
Coconut Curried Vegetables
I prefer sweet potatoes, kale and tomatoes in this recipe for the flavor, color and textural contrasts, but you could use any you like.
1 tbs. plain oil
½ onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbs. Lan Chi chili-garlic paste (more or less to taste)
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 can coconut milk
1 bunch kale, washed and coarsely chopped
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 tbs. fried shallots or onions
Salt or fish sauce to taste
1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and onions and cook until they wilt and start to brown.
2. Add the chili paste and sweet potatoes and stir to evenly mix everything. Cook for 2 minutes to toast the chili paste and bring out its flavor.
3. Add the coconut milk and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt or fish sauce. Cook, covered, until the sweet potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes.
4. Add the kale and tomatoes and cook until the kale is wilted and tender, about 5 minutes more. 5. Sprinkle fried shallots on top. Serve over steamed rice.
I'm submitting this recipe to Grow Your Own -- a blogging event that celebrates home gardeners and foragers. It was started by Andrea and is being hosted this month by Dido. Check out Dido's blog on October 1 to see what great things are being cooked up.