In the Kitchen with the Hub: African Peanut Stew and Kale Salad

by Katherine Moser

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The other night I decided to try new recipes using some of the local bounty that’s in season.  With kale and sweet potatoes flooding the farmer’s market, I decided on a warming winter meal of African Peanut Stew and Kale Salad.

The Stew

Peanut Stew is a common dish made in West Africa using peanuts, yams, and tomatoes. The stew has alternatively been used as a sauce for rice and vegetables, or meats.  Today there are many versions of this once simple stew.  Although I love my proteins, I did not want a stew that was just curried peanut butter soup… and that seems to be what a lot of the recipes out there have to offer.  Vegetables are important to me and I try to incorporate them into whatever I can, including desserts.  (Veggie dessert recipes to come!)  After some searching I came upon two recipes that I decided would be tastiest when combined.  The first recipe met my need of vegetables, while the second met my need for warming spices.  Please note that while I did use peanut butter, I opted for using blanched almonds in place of peanuts in this recipe since I prefer them.

First, I chopped all of the ingredients to almost equal sizes so that they would cook evenly in the pot.  I love soups and stews because they are cooked simply in ONE pot and can easily be frozen for quick future meals.

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Most recipes suggest that you skin your vegetables, but depending on where you are sourcing your foods… I vouch for keeping skins on for added fiber!  Next, I sauteed everything for a bit, and added the spices.

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After adding water and bringing it to a boil, I used one of my favorite kitchen tools: the Immersion Blender!  The immersion blender makes pureeing soup so easy.  I pureed everything right in the pot (with the stove turned off).

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I chopped some additional almonds and added them along with torn pieces of raw kale as a topping to be mixed in when serving the soup.  The kale wilts down due to the heat and adds a nice green color.  Cilantro would also be a great addition, but I didn’t have any handy.

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African Peanut Stew 

Ingredients
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 – 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger root
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground mustard
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 – 5 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped, unsalted blanched almonds, or unsalted nuts of choice
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 pinches cayenne pepper

Toppings: 1 bunch chopped fresh cilantro, fresh torn kale, chopped nuts, etc

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Mix in the garlic, ginger, and spices.. Stir in the tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots, and continue to cook and stir about 5 minutes.
  2. Pour water into the saucepan, and season the mixture with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.
  1. Remove the soup mixture from heat. In a food processor or blender, blend the soup and almonds/peanuts until almost smooth. Season with cayenne pepper. Return to the saucepan. Whisk in the peanut butter, and cook until heated through. You can also use an immersion stick blender if you have one and forgo transferring the mixture out of the heating pot.  **Remember to turn the stove off and remove the pot from the hot surface when blending!**
  1. Serve warm toppings of choice: cilantro, kale, chopped nuts, etc

Kale Salad

It seems like it is always the season for kale around here, and I don’t mind one bit.  Looking through an Eating Well magazine one day re-introduced me to the art of a raw kale salad.  I had made these a few times in the past, but now it has become a winter staple!

First, wash and dry all of the kale you’ll be using.  Next, in a separate bowl, mix up all ingredients for the salad dressing except for the olive oil.  Whisk up the salad dressing while slowly adding the olive oil in (this helps the oil to be well blended throughout instead of floating separate at the top).  I like to make a little extra of the dressing so I can have it for other salads later on.

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Wash your hands thoroughly and get ready for rubbing your greens!  Throw in the salad dressing to your washed kale and start squeezing the greens.  This makes them more tender than just eating them raw.  You can do this for 3-5 minutes depending on how tender you want them to be.  They also will get a little more tender the longer they sit, so if you’ll be storing them in the fridge you might not have to squeeze them.  Massaging the greens might be a little weird at first but just think of it as helping your hands;  the olive oil should make them feel a little softer and how often do you use muscles in your hands to squeeze things for three minutes consecutively?  It’s probably good for preventing a little hand arthritis, right? 🙂

After squeezing the greens, add any other toppings you would like in your salad.  I added some carrot shavings (using a vegetable peeler) and thin slices of apples.

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Voila! A delicious, nutritious, and relatively local meal to enjoy.

Kale Salad

Ingredients:
2 bunches greens (kale, beet greens, Swiss chard)
¼ – ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp dijon mustard
¼ cup lemon juice
1 – 2 minced garlic cloves
1 – 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (red wine or white vinegars work too)
1 tsp kosher salt
Ground pepper to taste
Any extra salad toppings: carrots, apples, avocado, etc

Instructions:
1. Prep
Start with 2 bunches of kale, wash and dry the leaves (and florets). Tear the leaves into small pieces and place everything in a large bowl.

2. Season
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp dijon mustard, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 – 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.

3. Massage
With clean hands, firmly massage and crush the greens until the volume is reduced by about half (1 to 2 minutes). They should look a little darker and somewhat shiny and have a silky, soft texture.

4. Add
Add in extra ingredients to mix: Dice, or skin slivers of carrot into the bowl.  Thinly slice apple of your choice to add as well.

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