Originally called “Soul Soothing African Peanut Stew,” this recipe is really more about the vegetables than the peanuts. The flavor of peanuts is actually pretty subtle. There is so much else going on: chickpeas, spinach, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic and lots of spice.
I know . . . the right name is African Peanut Stew . . . and the concept is based on a real West African dish (Maafe or Domodah).
This comes from a cookbook that my sister-in-law has been steadily working her way through: The Oh She Glows Cookbook by blogger Angela Liddon. Everything my sister-in-law has made from this book has been fantastic, and she has made a lot of the recipes from the book. My sister-in-law makes this stew for company and it has become her most requested recipe.
Given the above, you would think I would just faithfully follow the recipe instead of changing it around. But, I changed it just a little bit. Just a little.
I added eggplant, increased the amount of spinach and reduced the amount of broth. Plus, I replaced the jalapeno pepper with a poblano pepper.
You can use my changes, or follow the recipe as originally written, but do try it. The combination of peanut butter and vegetables sounds improbable, but the end result is fantastic.
African Vegetable Stew
Adapted from “Soul Soothing African Peanut Stew” in the Oh She Glows Cookbook.
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced (original recipe called for jalapeno)
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped, 1/2″ chunks
1 eggplant, cut in 1/2″ chunks (not in original recipe, but good addition)
28 oz. can tomatoes (original recipe called for diced tomatoes in juice, but I used tomatoes in tomato sauce because that is what I had)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup natural peanut butter (can puree roasted peanuts to make your own peanut butter)
2 cups water (original recipe called for 4 cups vegetable broth)
1 1/2 tsp chili powder (I used 1/2 tsp. oregano, 1/2 tsp. cumin and some Trader Joe’s pilpelchuma spice mix–a mix of chili, cayenne, garlic, cumin, caraway and paprika)
14.5 oz. can chickpeas, drained
4 handfuls baby spinach or baby kale (originally called for 2 handfuls, but I wanted more)
Fresh cilantro or parsley (I left this out)
Roasted peanuts, for garnish
In a large Dutch oven or large pot, saute the onion and garlic in oil until the onion is translucent. Add the bell pepper, poblano pepper, sweet potato, eggplant and, as you add each ingredient, stir everything around a bit in the pot. Add the tomatoes and let the stew simmer for a few minutes. Adjust seasoning with some salt and pepper, to taste.
Combine the peanut butter with a cup of water (or vegetable broth) until the mixture is smooth and lump free. Stir the peanut sauce into the sauce pan and add seasonings (chili powder or equivalent mix of oregano, cumin and hot pepper). Add the chickpeas. Add more water/broth as needed to make a thick stew. Adjust seasoning as needed.
Simmer, covered, on medium low for 20 minutes, or until sweet potato and eggplant are tender. Stir in the spinach or kale and cook until the greens are wilted. Adjust seasoning as needed.
Serve over rice, garnished with peanut (and cilantro or parsley, if using).