Almond Butter and Basil Curry Sauce

When New York gets blasted with Arctic temperatures, my contempt for the weather-fascinated disappears, clearly getting swept up in the polar vortex of disdain because now it is perfectly reasonable to go looking for that new and dramatic way of characterizing the cold. So crazy this cold! How cold is it? But more importantly, can I tell you how cold I am? Certain mornings, after making the bitter hike from F train to office building, I would feel like Dorothy trying to break in to her storm cellar, our double doors heavy like a pair of mean bouncers. Then, mustering some pre-coffee morning strength I’d shoot myself like a pinball into the foyer warmth I swear still spinning once in the elevator, woozy from the wind freeze, recognizing not one person under their hood, scarf, and cowl.  

When I think cold weather, I immediately think of pasta, of chili, of something bubbling in an oven. But we’d already had our share of linguini around Christmas, and I’d already cooked a beefy chili on New Years Eve, and Michael’s mom had just made a cheesy gruyere potato gratin for dinner the other night. I needed a snug dinner dish that a) wasn’t going to kick my ass all the way to the gym and, b) would taste great tomorrow for lunch when there was no way in hell I’d be venturing back out into the mother lode of cold air. If brown rice, tofu, and broccoli fail to get you excited… then I completely agree with you and you’re not alone. Rather, I’m talking brown rice, tofu, and broccoli dressed for the weather in a creamy, dreamy Thai curry almond butter basil sauce with toasted almond slivers to boot. The great thing about this sauce is how versatile it is – you can play around with the flavors as much as you like, thickening it up or thinning it out. Mine was thinned out and then cooked down with some white wine, fresh lemon, and tablespoons of hot water. 

Ingredients to serve 4:

  • Package of tofu
  • Broccoli head, trimmed to florets 
  • 1 lemon
  • Large handful fresh basil
  • Large handful slivered almonds
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 5-6 tbsp. red thai curry paste
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 20 tbsp. hot water (depending on your preference for a thicker or thinner sauce)
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • Peanut oil for frying the tofu (or vegetable oil or canola oil; basically, any neutral-flavored oil with a high smoking point will be good)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Get moving on the brown rice because brown rice takes somewhat long to cook. 40 minutes for me.

In a small bowl, get started on the sauce by adding 5-6 tbsp. of red thai curry paste to 1 cup of almond butter. Tasting as you go, mix in the juice of 1 lemon, 1/3 cup of wine, 20 tbsp. of hot water, and a tsp. of salt. Stir altogether and set aside. 

Meanwhile, get a large pot of water boiling for the broccoli. Cook the broccoli until it turns a bright green. Then rinse and drain it under cold water so it stops cooking. Set aside. 

Slice the tofu into squares, then give it a pat down with some paper towels. In a peanut oiled pan, cook it in batches over medium-high heat for about 2-3 minutes per side, being careful not to move them around much. You want them golden brown. Set aside. 

In a small pan over low heat, toast your large handfuls of slivered almonds. Set aside. 

Finally, heat up the sauce and stir in handfuls of fresh basil. When you're ready, slowly add the broccoli and tofu to the pan. Sprinkle on top the toasted almond slivers. 

Eat with brown rice, and enjoy.