a little organic farm's February recipe
Kale is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables and is nutritional powerhouse that tastes wonderful when properly cooked. Kale is one of nature’s best sources of vitamins A, C and K and a very good source of copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. The flavonoids and sulfur-containing compounds are believed to have antioxidant properties, as are two other compounds that kale delivers, zeaxanthin and lutein, both thought to play a role in protecting the eyes.
These greens are hearty, and they maintain about 50 percent of their volume when you cook them, unlike spinach, which cooks down to a fraction of its volume. The various types of kale also maintain a lot of texture, which makes them perfect for stir-fries. Remove the ropy stems and wash the leaves in at least two changes of water, as organic kale can be very attractive to aphids. Aphids won’t hurt you, but it might take a few rinses to clean them off the leaves.
Stir-Fried Tofu (or chicken) With Kale and Red Pepper
Kale is a good choice of greens for a stir-fry because it retains its texture.
1 bunch curly kale (about 10 ounces), stemmed and washed
1 14-ounce package firm tofu, sliced about 1/4 inch thick (or same amount of chicken breast)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, preferably white pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon peanut oil or canola oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1 red bell pepper, cut in 2-inch julienne
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1. Bring a medium saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil, add the kale and blanch 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl of cold water, drain and squeeze out excess water. Chop coarsely and place in a bowl near your wok.
2. Cut the tofu into dominos and place them on paper towels. Place another paper towel on top and prepare the remaining ingredients.
3. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the soy sauce, rice wine or sherry, stock and cornstarch. Combine the salt, pepper and sugar in another small bowl. Have all the ingredients within arm’s length of your wok.
4. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch steel skillet over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within a second or two when added to the pan. Swirl in the canola or peanut oil by adding it to the sides of the pan and swirling the pan, then add the tofu. Stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes, until it begins to color. Add the garlic, ginger and chili and stir-fry for no more than 10 seconds. If using chicken, stir fry until done.
5. Add the red pepper and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the kale, salt, pepper and sugar and toss together. Add the soy sauce mixture and the sesame oil. Stir-fry for another 30 seconds to a minute. Remove from the heat and serve with grains or noodles.
Yield: 4 servings.