Kale with peanut sauce and spicy roasted black beans

Kale in peanut sauce with roasted black beans

The weather has been remarkably strange this week. People will walk up to one another and remark, “what a strange day!” We seem to go through several seasons in one day. The mornings are cool and damp and foggy. The chill stretches into the afternoon, so that you sit, shivering in your brick house (which stays cool till sometime in August) and piling on cardigans. Then, when you venture out around three o’clock, the sun burns through the haze and suddenly it feels like mid-summer. It’s hot. You feel dazed, dizzy and burnt in the unexpected sunshine. Then small showers pass by, when they’re not predicted, and a gentle thunder storms wake you at 4:30 in the morning. What strange days!

Malcolm and I went for a walk yesterday morning in the seashore mistiness. Everything was vividly green through the haze. We pilfered a lambs ear from the abandoned train tracks for Malcolm to plant in the back yard. Someone passing asked Malcolm if he likes lambs ear because it’s soft. “No,” he said matter-of-factly, “Because it smells like goat’s cheese.” That’s my boy!!

It’s been nice cooking weather. Lots of exciting produce – fresh and tender and new. But it’s not too hot to cook it yet, and if you’re lucky the day stays warm long enough that you can eat outside. The peanut sauce in this recipe was inspired by barbecue sauce. I find barbecue sauce fascinating. The mix of flavors. The fact that it often contains tamarind, which seems like an unexpected ingredient in a very American food. I thought a peanutty barbecue sauce would be tasty. So that’s what I made. The black beans are roasted separately, with their own complementary spices. They have a nice texture, not crispy, like roasted chickpeas, but pleasantly firm. They go nicely with the kale, which brings its own assertive texture to the bowl.

Here’s Beastie Boys with Peanut Butter and Jelly. I love it! I love them!

1 medium-sized bunch of kale, washed, stems removed
1 large tomato, roughly chopped
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 T brown sugar
2 t tomato paste
1 t cayenne (or to taste)
1 t sage
1 t oregano
1/2 t mustard powder
1/2 t smoked paprika
1/4 t tamarind concentrate
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 T balsamic
salt & plenty of ground black pepper


1 can black beans, rinsed and well-drained
2 T olive oil
1 t oregano
1 t sage
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t smoked paprika
salt and black pepper


Preheat the oven to 425. Combine all of the ingredients but the salt and pepper, and spread in a single layer on a baking tray. Roast for about 15-20 minutes. DOn’t stir them too much, because they’ll fall apart, but make sure they don’t stick to the tray. When they’re dark and fragrant, take them out and let them cool. They won’t be crispy, but they’ll have a nice, almost-crunchy texture.


Boil a large pot of salted water. Drop the kale in and boil for about 10 minutes, till it’s quite soft, but still bright. Drain, let it cool till you can handle it, and chop it into small pieces.

Meanwhile, over medium heat, warm the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic, sage and oregano. Stir and cook for a minute or two. Add the brown sugar, tomato paste and tamarind concentrate. Stir and cook for a minute or two. Then add the peanut butter, the mustard, cayenne, paprika and cumin. Stir to mix, and then add the tomato and a cup and a half of water. Mix till smooth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer till it’s warm through and slightly thickened. If it gets too thick, add more water. Add the balsamic, salt and plenty of ground pepper, and then taste the sauce. Adjust for sweetness, heat and tartness with sugar, cayenne and balsamic.

Drop the kale into the sauce, stir and mix.

Serve with rice, and with a bowl of roasted black beans on the side – people can add them by the spoonful as they like.


4 thoughts on “Kale with peanut sauce and spicy roasted black beans

    • So sad about MCA! So sad.

      And yes, you rinse the black beans, and then drain them quite well so they’re very dry.

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