04 November 2015

J & L's West African Peanut Stew

There is a big vegan event occurring in our small mid-western town: I've started a monthly vegan potluck! September was our first and was a great success. Although I knew many of the people who came the first night, there were still some folks new to me, and many of the people who came didn't really know each other. Regardless, we all laughed, shared feelings about how amazing it was to be able to eat everything on the table, and joked that it was nice to be in a place where we didn't have to explain our food choices or be "jokingly" offered a bit of someone's steak/burger/bacon. Our second potluck went as well as the first and November's gathering is just around the corner! We're building a little community of vegans, which is just so awesome.

For me, one of the most fun parts of these monthly gatherings (aside from feeling less isolated) is the ability to try and share new recipes with other vegans. After every potluck, we've compiled our recipes and shared them with the others on the email list. I've eaten some amazing new things and even my food neophobic wife has tried (and enjoyed) everything. The recipe below arrived at our first vegan potluck from our new vegan friends J & L (I'm not sure if they would want me to post their names, so I'm refraining). This dish was SO good that Shana and I have made it twice since our first potluck, which is more than we've made anything - aside from soup, because soup - since then. This really is a winner of a dish - delicious, easy, and inexpensive! You may even have all of the ingredients in your pantry already, so what are you waiting for?!

J & L's West African Peanut Stew
1, 15 oz. can tomato sauce (unseasoned)
1, 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes or petite diced tomatoes
5 T. creamy peanut butter
1 large onion, finely diced
1 large bell pepper, finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced (or more to taste)
1 very small sweet potato, finely diced
5 oz. spinach, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. salt (or more to taste)
1 tsp. black pepper (or more to taste)

1. Combine tomatoes and peanut butter in a large pot over medium heat, until the peanut butter is melted. Add salt and pepper.
2. Add onion, both peppers, and sweet potato. Reduce heat to low, cover, and stir regularly until veggies are soft (25 minutes or more).
3. Add spinach. Continue to cook for another 5-ish minutes.
4. Serve over rice.

Helpful Hints
  • J & L made this a nice mild spice level for our potluck, but told us that it should be blisteringly hot and that West Africans would scoff at the heat in this mild version. J's advisor in graduate school was West African and made this for him. Since Shana and I are kind of wimpy, one jalapeno pepper does just fine for us. It's warm, but not too hot. If you like spicy foods, add another jalapeno or more. 
  • You can serve this stew over a variety of other grains, such as cous cous or millet. We don't always have those on hand, so rice is easy. We've eaten this with brown medium grain rice as well as more aromatic basmati. 
  • Also, if you want to add peanuts to the top of each plate, feel free. I like the added crunch, but Shana doesn't. You could also add other veggies. J suggested okra or plantain. 
  • Once you've got the veggies in the pan, really do lower the heat. If you don't, this can begin to stick to the bottom of the pan. 
  • Assuming that your peanut butter is soy- and gluten-free, this is an easy dinner for vegans with allergy issues (unless they have peanut allergies!). My guess is that you could use another nut butter, though I've not tried it. 
  • We're attempting to see how freezer-friendly this dish is, so I'll update when I figure it out. 
The post "J & L's West African Peanut Stew" originally appeared on Maggie's LesVegan Kitchen.

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