Optimism has taken hold! This is THE week temperatures are sure to rise, and the three feet of snow left in my yard will disappear. I'm banking on it, cuz I've taken the parka to the dry cleaners, and stuffed the winter boots in a box in the basement. I'm done with ya Winter, move along now. In celebration, I thought I would make one of my all time favourite cold weather comfort bowls: West African Groundnut Stew. The recipe is taken from "Sundays At Moosewood", a cookbook that was used plenty back when I was an art school student in Montreal. This is perfect student/peasant food - with the bulk of the ingredients being cabbage and potatoes, it's easy on the budget, and lord knows we ate it often enough.
My dear friend Stacy put a special request in for this recipe, as she was a fixture at my kitchen table way long ago in Montreal. Dinner music then was REM and The Smiths and Duran Duran (I met them once - that's a funny story for another time!) Conversation was about boys (of course), and home, and 90210 and "who would your rather." Cheap red wine was purchased at the little store on the corner, and we sat by candlelight til the wee hours. Now we live at opposite ends of this massive country, but eating this lovely stew tonight makes me think of Stacy, and that makes me happy.
I switched things up in this recipe a little bit. Originally it calls for sweet potatoes, and while I love them mashed or pureed, I don't like them just cooked in something, if that makes any sense. I have "texture issues", what can I say? Also, it calls for okra, and again, "texture issues" arise. So I substitute zucchini. I used fresh hot peppers instead of dried cayenne, but you can use either. And I added more cilantro, cuz I likey, but I know lots of people don't, so it's up to you. If you haven't already guessed, the "groundnut" part is peanut butter, which is truly awesome in this stew. I served mine spooned over some steaming quinoa, for the extra boost of protein, but rice would be fine too. While you are at it crank up some REM (their new album is fantastic, by the way).
West African Groundnut Stew
2 cups chopped onions
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper or other dried chiles (OR 1-2 chopped jalapeno peppers, seeds removed, unless you want it super super hot)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped green cabbage
3 cups cubed sweet potatoes (1 inch cubes) OR use regular white potatoes
3 cups tomato juice
1 cups apple juice or veggie stock
1 tsp salt
1 tsp grated peeled ginger root
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
2 chopped tomatoes
2 cups chopped okra (or zucchini)
1/2 cup peanut butter (natural is optimal)
Saute onions in oil for about 5 minutes. Stir in hot pepper and garlic and cook a few more minutes. Add the cabbage and potatoes and cook covered a little longer. Mix in the juices, salt, ginger, cilantro and tomatoes. Cover, simmer 15 minutes until potatoes tender. Stir in the okra, or zucchini, and cook 5 minutes longer. Reduce heat to low, stir in the peanut butter and simmer gently until ready to serve. Add more juice or stock if you find it too thick. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with more cilantro or green onions. Serves 6.