My friend Susan introduced me to African peanut stew several years ago now, and I’ve been making it ever since. I was blogging about my cooking experiments when she suggested given my penchant for unique flavors, I should give the stew a chance.
As I recall, she said I seemed like someone who wouldn’t be afraid of seeing ingredients like shelled edamame and peanut butter in a recipe.
I love peanut sauce and had been making it for years, so I knew peanut butter could be used to add some sweetness to savory dishes. I wasn’t super familiar with edamame, but I wasn' afraid of soy, so I gave it a shot.
Since then, it’s been such a staple in our house, and one I often turn to particularly at this time of year. That’s because I’m on a one-person quest to make the case that Valentine’s Day dinners — if you’re into such things — should be more comfort than class.
There’s a sort of forced pretense about a romantic dinner that doesn’t appeal to me, and I think it’s better to be relaxed for date night. So, one of my go-tos for the holiday is this simple yet tasty stew.
It’s full of bright colors for a festive day; it’s healthy so you won’t feel too full afterward; and it’s actually pretty quick other than cutting the vegetables, which can be done in advance if you’re crunched for time. (And you can save even more time by buying canned sweet potatoes rather than cutting them yourself.)
And if you’re not into the whole Valentine’s Day thing at all, that’s cool too. The stew actually tastes good pretty much any time of year.
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African Peanut Stew
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 2 small carrots, finely chopped
- 1 rib celery, finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons peeled fresh ginger, minced
- 1 ½ tablespoon curry powder
- 1 (14 ½ ounces) can diced tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces (or 1 12-ounce can, drained)
- 1 ½ cups. shelled edamame
- ½ cup creamy or crunchy natural peanut butter (or almond butter)
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 (5 ounces) bag baby spinach leaves, torn up
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat oil in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, pepper, carrot and celery. Saute about 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Add garlic, ginger and curry powder; cook for another minute until fragrant.
Add tomatoes and bay leaf; cook about 3 minutes until tomato liquid is slightly reduced. Add broth and sweet potatoes; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes (10 minutes with canned sweet potatoes). Stir in peanut butter and edamame,mixing well to incorporate peanut butter. Cook about another 5 minutes to thoroughly heat stew.
Just before serving, stir in cilantro and spinach until it wilts, about 2 minutes. Season to taste, and enjoy!