Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sending Winter Away With West African Groundnut Stew

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. 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 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 Tbsp canola oil
1 onion, chopped
1-2 chopped jalapeno peppers, seeds removed, unless you want it super super hot
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp grated peeled ginger root
3 cups chopped green cabbage
3 cups cubed potatoes
3 cups tomato juice
1 cup vegetable stock
2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 cups chopped zucchini
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup peanut butter (natural is optimal)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the oil. When it has warmed, saut√© the onions for about 5 minutes. Stir in jalapeno pepper, garlic and ginger and cook a few more minutes. Add the cabbage and potatoes and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato juice, veg stock and tomatoes. Cover and simmer 15 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender.  Stir in the zucchini and cilantro and cook 5 minutes longer. Turn the 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. Add some cayenne pepper for more heat, if need be. Garnish with more cilantro. Serve over bowls of steamed brown rice or quinoa. Serves 6.


  1. Such great memories!!! Thanks for posting this Renee!

  2. You're welcome Stacy! Awesome awesome memories.

  3. What a wonderful looking stew. Wait - you met Duran Duran?!!!

  4. Very hearty, good lookin' stew! I love cilantro and am always miffed that so many people don't. I also love okra but I do understand your complaint on that one. Wishing you warm weather!

  5. Sounds like a delicious mix. With peanut butter it can't go wrong. I agree how some food bring back memories of far away places and dear friends.

  6. Oh, wow! My parents were hippy volunteer teachers in Sierra Leone in the early 70's (my mom with Peace Corps, my dad with CUSO)- that's how they met. This was a dish my brother and I would beg my mom to make- we absolute loved it, but it was one of those "special occasion" dishes. I've never actually met anyone else who had heard of it, or seen a recipe! When we ate it, my mom would put out dishes of chopped pineapple, sectioned oranges, shredded coconut, chopped bananas, and chopped peanuts, and we would "accessorize" our own dish of stew. The memories this brings back...!!


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