Thai Yam and Kale Stew


Though I’ve never expressly intended to go vegan, it seems like all my new favorite recipes within the last couple years have been vegan. And the fact that it’s so simple to have a largely vegan diet, and ridiculously delicious and nutritious at that, makes me wish others (both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike) weren’t so quick to dismiss food labeled ‘vegan’. So, since it’s been a long while since I had a kOs food post, I thought I’d share my newest favorite recipe with you. This one is the result of my NY hosts (well, one of them, at least) converting me into a Gwyneth Paltrow fan. Say what you will about her movie role and kid’s name choices, this woman knows her food. Having already mastered a roasted yam and kabocha squash coconut curry stew, I was immediately interested in this slightly different version from a recent goop newsletter, as it cut out the laborious squash cutting and roasting ordeal, and used kale, something I had never ever purchased from the grocery store. And, I have to say, Gwyneth has made me do a 180 on my opinion of ginger in the kitchen. Ginger ale is guzzled like water in my house, but I’ve never met a recipe involving fresh ginger that I actually liked. But for this, it was the crucial ingredient of the stew. Anyway, the first time I made it, I followed the recipe pretty much exactly (except for using baby kale instead of grown-up kale), making it as a sauce on top of some red quinoa, resulting in a look not unlike the photo above (taken from the newsletter – I can’t possibly photograph it as well, so that’s all you get here). However, with my man gone for the weekend and with me being much easier on myself for messing up a dish if it’s only me that has to eat it, I thought I’d experiment a bit more. And it was much much better the second time around. As I can’t link directly to the original recipe itself, only to the entire newsletter, I’m reproducing it below, with my emendations/explanations on the right in bold.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced –> 1 red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced –> 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, peeled and minced (this amounts to about an inch-long piece; don’t reduce the amount or leave out if at all possible!)
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (‘sweet potatoes’ being yams, i.e. the orange ones, not the yellow ones; this is about 1 kg worth of whole yams)
  • 4 ounces tomato sauce –> 8 oz organic tomato sauce (about 1 cup/250 ml; can be frozen – it’ll thaw quickly in the pan)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder –> 1 1/2 tbsp red curry paste (hence why I cut down the garlic)
  • 13 1/2 ounces (1 small can) light coconut milk (use organic light coconut milk if possible)
  • 2 cups kale, roughly chopped (grown-up kale is much much better than baby kale, so don’t be tempted by the ready washed bags/containers of baby kale at the store)
  • 15 ounces white kidney beans, drained and rinsed –> 1 can of organic pinto beans (organic is important to avoid the excess salt added to regular canned beans)

1. Heat coconut oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until it melts. –> I’m not sure why the original recipe says ‘coconut oil’ – my guess is that it was meant to say coconut oil in the recipe, but I’ve never had that in my kitchen. I heated the olive oil in the large frying pan I use for the majority of my cooking.

2. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 6 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Stir in the garlic and ginger then continue stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the sweet potatoes, tomato sauce, and curry powder and continue stirring for 10 minutes or until the potatoes begin to soften. –> With the red onion, it’s not going to be translucent, but the cooking time is about the same, until the nice bright purple colour has turned into a duskier hue. After they’re ready, it’s better to add the tomato sauce first to coat the onions and stop them from burning, then add the curry paste and mix in well, then the yams. You should put a lid on it between stirring, so the steam will help cook the yams, as they aren’t submerged in liquid at this point.

3. Add the coconut milk, kale, and beans to the pot. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft and completely cooked through. –> After adding the coconut milk, add some water to the can (about half full) to get the remaining coconut milk off the walls of the can, and pour this into the pan. I also suggest simmering for 30 minutes instead of 20.

With covering the pan in #2 as well as the added water and doubled tomato sauce, the emended version is then more of a hearty stew than sauce. While I quite like white kidney beans (also called cannellini), the pinto beans seemed to give the flavour of the stew a bit more depth. I highly recommend eating it with a piece of naan and a kleenex. This recipe makes 3 full portions if all you’re eating is the stew, but could feed 4-5 if bread or other grains are served alongside.