Chilly? Have Some Curry!
Whoa boy, has fall ever flung itself on us this week! Each morning I commute 10 miles by bike to work, an activity that has plenty of virtues but also several challenges. The current challenge being how to keep my face from freezing solid as my body adjusts to the sudden snap back into appropriate seasonal temperatures. Normally I don’t mind biking in the cold and continue to do such all through the winter, but that’s after a nice gradual change in the temperature over the autumn months. Getting used to cold weather biking is a lot like getting into the swimming pool for the first time in June…you’re better off if you ease yourself in one inch at a time. But Mother Nature continues to prove she’s not in a mood to be messed with this year, and I had no such luxury of easing into the near-freezing digits on the thermometer.
This morning as I was pedaling along, teeth a-chatter, I had visions of delicious curried mustard greens in my head (sugar plums aren’t in season yet). When I had this dish for dinner the sauce was so warming, the beans so silky, and the greens so satisfying…why hadn’t I thought to have the leftovers for breakfast?? Oh yeah, that’s right – no one in their right mind would consider curried mustard greens breakfast food. Well, by golly, if it’s in the 30s again tomorrow morning, I might just have to buck notions of traditional breakfast dishes and fuel myself with these spicy greens!
Quirky breakfast fare and chilly commuter cycling aside, I’m glad I’m getting to know the farm’s Osaka Purple mustard greens more – they’re quite mild but still retain enough flavor to add depth to the overall dish. And they’re just so beautiful to work with – the melding of the deep purple and cool green among the reddish veins makes me wish I was a better painter. I’d love to have a huge canvas of an oil close-up of these leaves to emphasis not only their colors, but also their texture.
Now then, here’s the part where you do as I say and not as I do. The original recipe I snagged from AllRecipes.com called for tomato sauce. I wasn’t exactly sure if they meant marinara sauce or tomato puree from a can. Since I didn’t have any puree but I did have the marinara, I went ahead with using that. I also added a little tomato paste (that I later realized was a “garlic pesto” variety instead of the plain stuff I’d meant to pick up at the supermarket) to be on the safe side. The dish was still quite good but more Italian in nature than the Indian delicacy I was anticipating, so in my rendition below, I’ve opted to suggest using diced canned tomatoes and no tomato paste so the curry flavor can come to the forefront more. That being said, if you aren’t a fan of curry but want to try this recipe still, use the marinara and some tomato paste. I will also be adding some toasted mustard seeds to the dish next time (and next time will be very soon, I’m sure) to increase the depth of spice. If I were using a mustard green variety that has stronger flavor, I wouldn’t worry about adding the seeds.
Oh, and I almost forgot another key change I made to the original recipe. It called for kidney beans but I opted for butter beans instead and highly recommend you do too. The butter beans add a real meatiness to the dish and their creaminess is a nice offset to the spicy bite of the curry. Plus butter beans (really they’re lima beans but I find calling them butter beans much more appetizing) are higher in fiber and potassium than kidney beans, filling you up more and alleviating muscle fatigue and cramping – a big bonus if you’re a daily bike commuter like myself or if you have some other daily workout routine.
Now that you know I’ll most likely be eating curried mustard greens for breakfast tomorrow, what’s the most unusual breakfast food you’ve had?
Check out this scarecrow Farmer Dave made.
I bet this guy could use some curried mustard greens
with all the chilly morning guard duty he’s doing!
CURRIED MUSTARD GREENS WITH BUTTER BEANS
Adapted from AllRecipes.com
1 bunch mustard greens (about 15 large leaves)
1 T. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 T. minced fresh ginger root
1 large pinch of red pepper flakes
1 (15 oz.) can butter beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 T. curry powder
1/3 c. heavy cream or soy milk
1 t. mustard seeds (optional)
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Roughly chop greens and place in the pot, cover, and cook 5 minutes, or just until tender. Drain, and rinse under cold water.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. If using the mustard seeds, add to hot oil and cook until they start to pop. Add the onion and saute until lightly brown. Stir in ginger and then the red pepper. Mix in greens, butter beans, tomatoes (and juice), and curry powder. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the cream, and continue cooking until just heated through. Serve over rice for a main course or alone for a side dish.
(serves 4 as a main dish over rice)