Chilly? Have Some Curry!

October 30, 2007 at 9:05 am 11 comments

Butter beans draining in front of mustard greens

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.

Mustard Greens Chopped

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. 

Osaka Purple Mustard Greens

Now then, here’s the part where you do as I say and not as I do.  The original recipe I snagged from 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. 

A large pinch of red pepper flakes gives curry a kick

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?    

Random farm photo of scarecrow 
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!

Adapted from

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)

Curried Mustard Greens with Butter Beans


Entry filed under: Purely Vegetables, Recipes.

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11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. taylor  |  October 30, 2007 at 11:14 am

    It’s 55 degrees in my house right now! I need curry. Warm curry.

  • 2. Jennie  |  October 30, 2007 at 11:56 am

    Good lord, woman! Turn on the heat! And make some curry. 🙂

  • 3. marimann  |  October 30, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    I just cooked up a “mess” (as we say here in the South) of wild mustard greens this morning and now I know what I’m going to do with them- curry, here we come! And for breakfast I’ve had ramen noodles with tofu, ginger and chard. Yum!

  • 4. Christine  |  October 30, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    I’m glad you posted this; I’ve been eyeing the mustard greens at Willow Creek, but have been rather afraid of them so far. I might be brave enough to try them in your lovely looking curry.

    I think you can get “tomato sauce” in a can — my mom used to mix it with herbs and stuff to make pizza sauce. Look for it in the canned tomato section, not in the spaghetti sauce section. It’s in a smaller can than diced tomatoes, but not as small as the tiny tomato paste cans. I recall it having a smoother texture than tomato puree, but I can’t remember if it has any seasoning in it. I’m thinking not.

    Nevertheless I use diced tomatoes for pretty much everything 😉

  • 5. Jennie  |  October 31, 2007 at 6:48 am

    Marimann – *wild* mustard greens? I love it! I’ll have to put that on my list of things to forage for sometime in the future — that along with wild garlic and wild herbs for tea. As for your breakfast choices, you might have just topped mine! 🙂

  • 6. Jennie  |  October 31, 2007 at 6:54 am

    Christine – Don’t be afraid of the mustard greens…they love you and only want you to love them back. 🙂 Seirously, this curry is a good way to get acquainted as the mustard green flavors aren’t very distinct so you can see if you like the texture and general presence of them in a dish before committing to another recipe that might push their flavor on you more.

    Thanks for the insight on tomato sauce in a can. I kind of remember seeing that before too but I just wasn’t sure. Too many canned tomato products on the market! And I didn’t grow up using any at all (my mom canned anything tomato-based that we might need) so I’m still a bit ignorant of what’s there besides my beloved diced tomatoes and tomato paste for my soup base. If it weren’t the end of tomato season, I would have actually recommended using fresh diced tomato instead but figured considering it’s nearly November, I should be realistic about how many fresh local ingredients are still available.

    Viva la diced tomatoes!! 🙂

  • 7. nemo  |  October 31, 2007 at 6:56 am

    This sounds yummy!

    I love curries and beans so I’ll be trying this one soon!
    Just need to get some mustard greens, plain yogurt could work as a sub for the cream right?

    I’m in Italy and have to search to find some ingredients that seem to be more common in the States… are there other greens that could work well with this since I’ve never had mustard greens and have no clue what they taste like or if I could find them here.

    Thanks ^_^

    ah, my main blog is not food related in case you go visit, my food blog is at 🙂

  • 8. Jennie  |  October 31, 2007 at 7:07 am

    Nemo – While I’ve been to Italy, unfortunately I’m not very well versed it what’s available there in the way of vegetables. But I can recommend a few substitutes for the greens. I’m certain that kale and swiss chard would work well in this dish too. I also suspect, but am not certain, that beet or turnip greens would work too. As for what mustard greens are like in case you have something else there that might be a good substitute, they are fairly hearty greens that take a few minutes to cook down (in contrast to spinach which I consider a tender green since it doesn’t hold up to much heat) and have a mild to strong spicey flavor. If you’ve ever had mustard seeds in a dish, that is a similar flavor, although the flavor of the greens is usually more mild than that. Do you think there’s anything there in Italy that will work now that you know a bit more?

    If you make this dish, please let us know what you used so other readers in Europe might give it a try too with your adaptations. 🙂

    Thanks for the link to your blog – I’ll check it out!

  • 9. Jamie  |  November 17, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    It is so cold out and I have been dying for some curry. I made this for my boyfriend tonight who has never had curry or mustard greens and he loved it. This recipe will definitely. be made again by us!


  • 10. Jennie  |  November 19, 2007 at 7:21 am

    Jamie – so glad you enjoyed it! It really is the perfect cold-weather soup. 🙂

  • 11. Inner Alchemist  |  January 6, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    I have a large pot of collard greens on the stove right now. I haven’t tried mustard greens but am surely going to now after seeing the curry, bean and mustard green recipe. Yum. I love curry! Thank you for sharing that (can’t see a name on that recipe…)

    ((Everyone)) Stay warm.


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