This vegetarian stew is my take on the classic West African dish, groundnut stew. Many versions of groundnut stew exist and most use meat but this is a dish which works beautifully with vegetarian ingredients. Sweet potato and groundnuts are a particularly good combination and the stew is rich and creamy but high in protein and low in cholesterol.
Groundnuts are, of course, just peanuts by another name and, for this recipe, I actually use peanut butter. I should stress though that I wouldn't recommend normal, perfectly-delicious-on-bread-type-of-peanut-butter. Most commercial peanut butter is sweetened with sugar and contains a generous helping of salt. Health concerns aside, this type of peanut butter will dominate the flavour of this stew too much. The dish should taste like peanuts rather than peanut butter.
I either make my own peanut butter or, more usually these days use Meridian brand peanut butter which I find easier and as good, if not better than homemade. There is only one item on the list of ingredients: "Organic Peanuts Whole Skin On" which I find pretty impressive. Now, for the bad news, this peanut butter is not available in the U.S. as far as I know. In the U.K. and Ireland, you'll find it in wholefood shops or online.. If you can't find Meridian or an equivalent product, I recommend whizzing up some of your own homemade peanut butter.
1 teaspoon of sunflower or canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
200g/1½ cups of chopped carrots
400g/3 cups of chopped sweet potato (or pumpkin)
2 fresh green chillis
1 teaspoon of salt
1 400g/14oz can of chopped tomatoes
500mls/1 pint water
150g/1 cup of best quality peanut butter
1 small zucchini or courgette, cut into chunks
100g/3 cups of washed and trimmed spinach leaves
1. Heat the oil to a medium heat in a large heavy based saucepan . Add the onion and fry gently for a few minutes.
2. Add the carrot and sweet potato, cover and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes until the vegetables have softened.
3. Now stir in the chillies, salt, tomatoes and water. Bring to the boil, remove the cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.
4. Next add the peanut butter and courgettes and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Finally stir in the spinach and cook for about 2 or 3 minutes. Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Serve with rice.