I know, I know, we do like to put peanut butter in/on just about anything around here. What can I say – it’s just one of many glorious things Michael (and America) has opened my eyes to. As a matter of fact, I think peanut butter has an undeservedly bad reputation – why, really? If you get (or make) unsweetened peanut butter, it’s just ground up nuts with a dash of salt. That’s all. Peanuts pack a lot of protein, good fats (both mono and polyunsaturated), vitamins (especially folate, some B’s and E) and minerals (good amounts of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and iron, for example). And it’s energy dense. All of the above together make peanut butter a great staple for athletes. And while it’s quite amazing slathered on bread, we use it primarily as an ingredient in energy bars/balls, as an oatmeal topping (oh my, it’s the best) and as an amazing flavor and nutrient booster in savory meals, such as this stew.
This recipe draws inspiration from Maafe, a traditional West African soup which – in addition to peanuts/peanut butter and vegetables – often contains some type of meat. Recipes vary hugely though and a set formula doesn’t seem to exist, so we deemed it fair game for us to give our own vegan version a go, and share the recipe if it came out good. It did. Sweet potatoes are commonly seen in these kinds of concoctions and rightfully so – the flavor is just perfect and the consistency can’t be argued either, so it never crossed our minds to go another route. Instead of a meat protein though, we’re (naturally) choosing legumes instead – both black beans and red lentils, actually. The red lentils will sort of disappear into the broth and not really get noticed much, but they add plenty of nutrients and help thicken the stew. The black beans, on the other hand, stay intact and chewy. And as no stew is complete without a generous amounts of greens, we stir in a whole bunch of dino kale at the end, making sure everyone gets their fair share of vitamin A and K, among other goodies. If you don’t have dino kale on hand, any kale will do, or even chard or spinach.
As you can see, this recipe makes roughly eight (8) servings. The stew freezes and reheats well, so don’t be afraid to make the whole recipe even though you’re not feeding a crowd at once. Good luck!
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Makes 7-8 servings
1/2 tbsp olive oil
400 g onion (approx. 4 medium), chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
190 g (approx. 2 dl) dried red lentils, rinsed
3/4 dl minced fresh ginger
1 kg sweet potatoes, washed and cut into 2 cm cubes
2 l of water
3 tbsp bouillon powder (equals 3 cubes)
250 g tomato paste
250 g (approx. 2 1/2 dl) unsweetened peanut butter
525 g (approx. 7 1/2 dl) cooked/canned black beans, rinsed
200-250 g de-stemmed dino kale (320-400 g including stems), chopped
Optional topping: chopped cilantro
- Heat up the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté onions and 1/2 tsp salt until soft, approx. 5 min.
- Add garlic, lentils and ginger and continue cooking for another 3-4 min. Add in sweet potato cubes and stir around.
- Pour in the water, add bouillon powder and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer, and cook until sweet potatoes have started to soften but aren’t done yet, approx. 15 min.
- In the meantime, place tomato paste and peanut butter in a heatproof bowl. Scoop up 3-4 dl of hot broth and add to the bowl. Stir until smooth, adding in more liquid if needed. Then, pour the mixture back into the pot and stir.
- Add in black beans and kale. Add the greens little by little, allowing the leaves to wilt down as you go instead of overflowing the pot all at once. Cook until the consistency of the stew has thickened and the potatoes are done to your liking (anywhere between 10 and 20 min).
- Season with salt. We usually add about 1/4 tsp salt more here, but that will depend on your peanut butter and bouillon of choice.
- Serve in large bowls with an optional sprinkle of chopped cilantro on top.