Sunday, October 18, 2015

Ginger-peanut kale with tofu & quinoa

October 17, 2015

I recently had a bit of a work shake-up, meaning I left a research group in Sydney that I'd been working with (mostly remotely) for the last three years. We had a lovely farewell dinner earlier in the week, and I was thrilled with the parting gift they gave me - the Arthur Street Kitchen cookbook Community. I was even more thrilled to realise that I could bust this book out straight away, to contribute to Hayley's birthday potluck picnic.

The book's probably 70% vegetarian and 30% vegan and, to make sure everyone picnicking could indulge, I focussed on the vegan options. The Thai kohlrabi, cabbage and apple slaw was tempting, as was the smashed chickpeas with broccoli and dukkah, but in the end I went with one of the dishes featured on the cover: ginger-peanut kale with tofu and quinoa.

There are a few separate bits to the recipe, but nothing is very complicated, and you can knock the whole thing off in about an hour without any trouble. The kale seems ludicrously disproportionate compared to the sauce, but it shrinks down nicely in the end, so don't panic. The end result is wonderful - the kale and quinoa soak up lots of peanutty flavour, and the tofu and roasted peanuts add texture and variety. It's easily a meal on its own, but thankfully it also works well in a potluck-style picnic situation.

Ginger-peanut kale with tofu & quinoa
(slightly adapted from a recipe in Hetty McKinnon's Community)

1 big bunch of kale (~500g), roughly shredded (stems removed)
350g firm tofu, cut into thin slices
1 red onion, thinly sliced
300g (1.5 cups) quinoa
2 teaspoons Massel 'chicken' stock powder
1 cup of roasted, salted peanuts
Veggie oil, for frying
salt and pepper

1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup water
2 tablespoons tahini
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 teaspoons tamari
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup (it's honey in the original, but this is more vegan appropriate)
salt and pepper

This recipe has basically three separate processes: the kale 'n' sauce, the quinoa and the tofu and onion frying - it doesn't really matter what order you do them in, but the quinoa takes a good 25-30 minutes, so it can be left to cook while you're doing the rest.

Pop the quinoa, a pinch of salt and stock powder in a medium sized saucepan and fill with water to about 2cm above the quinoa (which kind of floats, making this a bit tricky to judge).

Bring it to the boil and the simmer, covered until the quinoa is cooked and the water is absorbed - about 25 minutes.

Sauce and kale
Melt all of the sauce ingredients together in another medium saucepan. You should wind up with a smooth and slightly thick sauce.

Kill the heat and stir in the kale, a bit at a time - it looks like a complete mismatch in size, but the kale will shrink down a bit as the hot sauce wilts it. I tossed it all together as well as I could and then left the saucepan covered (with the heat off) so that everything kept cooking.

Tofu and onion
Season the tofu slices with salt and pepper.

Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a frying pan on medium-high heat. Fry the tofu for 6-8 minutes on each side until it's nice and golden.

Allow the slices to cool and then cut them crossways into little strips.

Throw the onion in the same frying pan (with another tablespoon of oil if necessary) and cook slowly, for 10-12 minutes, until it's super soft and caramelised.

Finishing it off!
Once everything has cooled down a little, combine the quinoa, saucy kale, tofu and onions in a large bowl. Top with the roasted peanuts and serve.

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