African Peanut Stew

Piping hot with a good dose of extra Sriracha hot sauce on top.

Okay, so this isn’t authentically African, but I like to call it that because when I think of luscious, spicy, peanutty stew I think of what little I know of Pan-African cuisine.

This recipe came to me from a PPK member.  I can’t remember who and I’m pretty sure it’s long gone anyway.  So, if it’s yours, good work!  And let me know so I can give you credit, since this is your piece and your instructions.  This one is too good not to share.

Infact, it’s more of a method than a recipe.  It’s pretty hard to screw up, though, so even if you’re a novice cook, give it a go.  You’ll have yummy, filling leftovers for days!  We’ve made this so many times with great success each time.

Peanut Stew

Olive oil (~2 tbsp)
1 small onion
Any or all of the following: carrot, potato, sweet potato
A few cloves of garlic (3-5 work well)
2 cups vegetable broth
1 28oz can stewed tomatoes (any kind – even with basil works!)
A few large handfuls of chopped greens (spinach, kale, collard greens, beet greens – whatever you’ve got!)
Red pepper flakes or hot sauce
A splash of soy sauce
A splash of vinegar (apple cider, sherry, or red wine work the best)
A big spoonful of something sweet (some sugar, stevia, maple syrup – I’ve even used apricot jam)
A big heaping 1/4 cup or so of peanut butter

Start by sautéeing the onion and garlic in some oil at the bottom of a large pot.  Once they onion has softened and the garlic has become nice and aromatic, add in the chopped root vegetables.  Sautée them for a few minutes until they get a nice little bit of crispiness.  Then add in both the vegetable broth and the canned tomatoes.  Let simmer, covered, until the vegetables are soft (I think it ends up being about 10-20 minutes, depending on how small the chop of the veggies is.)  Once the vegetables are soft, and the soup has thickened a little, throw in your big bunches of greens and stir.  Then add your splashes of soy sauce and vinegar, your hot element, your sweet element and your peanut butter.  Taste and adjust flavorings until it’s completely delicious to you!

It ends up being nice and thick, almost like a curry.  It’s great, filling and nutritious on it’s own, but could also be served over rice, or with bread.  It’s great with some more seasonings, too – cumin, coriander, chili powder, cayenne.  And you can literally add almost any veggies to this – I’ve thrown in frozen peas (at the end), green beans, cauliflower.  This is just such an easy, and intuitive recipe – and it lasts forever, and is a complete meal in a bowl!

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And look!  A new patch on my apron!  Chicks do dig vegans.

– Crystal

Jackfruit Carnitas

Jackfruit carnitas is a dish that has a few different variations floating around.  We found some canned young jackfruit in brine in the asian market, and decided to give my friend Melisser Elliott’s version a go, which you can see in this video here.  Anyway, it’s supposed to mimic pulled pork and it really does!  I was almost thrown off at first at how meaty it looked.  Texture wise, it’s a bit softer than meat, but delicious.  Totally delicious.

Jackfruit is an interesting thing, I had never had it before, but apparently in its young form, it is used quite commonly in many south asian countries where people perhaps don’t eat meat for religious or economical reasons.

Beware of the heat from the salsa verde you use to make it though – Trevor picked some up from the latin market and – OUCH! – it was hot hot hot.  Next time, we’ll use a milder version, so the other flavours can shine through more.

We filled tacos with the carnitas, along with some fresh guacamole and lettuce to cool it down a bit. Some vegan sour cream would have been lovely on it – a nice homemade cashew-based one would do the trick.  We had that with some fried plantains, and tortilla chips with salsa. We also scored some frozen tropical fruit pulp at the latin market – guava, mango and lulo – so we decided to blend that up with some fresh pineapple and orange juice, and have some yummy, healthy smoothies with dinner, to help cool our scorching tongues.

There are two states in which plantains are consumed – when they are green (made into tostones) or very ripe, nearly black.  We mostly eat them in the latter stage.  Cooking plantains is very easy. Let them ripen until the skin is black and soft…they aren’t like bananas, which would be no good by that point; you want them to be nice and black or atleast speckled a lot.  Peel them by cutting off the ends and then slicing through the skin lengthwise. It should peel off very easily this way. I like to slice them in four pieces, but you can really slice them up however you like. Heat up a tablespoon of coconut oil (or your preferred oil) in a frying pan on medium. Put the plantains in when the oil is hot. Squish ’em a bit with the back of a spoon if you like. Sprinkle them with lime juice as they fry. Cook them until they are a little crispy and brown on the outside. Now sprinkle a dash of salt on them and they’re ready to eat.

This is NOT meat!  

– Crystal

Jambalaya

Each year in the depths of winter, I find myself gravitating towards Southern inspired dishes.  I’m not really sure why, as I’ve never been to the American south, but during the cold months I crave that warmth and comfort that cajun-creole dishes inspire.

We used this recipe but made a few tweaks.  We substituted the vegan chorizo for sliced Tofurky Italian sausages, and substituted the “chicken” strips for a can of red kidney beans.  We topped our bowls with a drizzle of hot sauce to crank it up a notch.  Wow, this was delicious and really stick-to-your-ribs filling.  We’ll definitely make this again and again.  Next time I think I’ll brown the sausage in a little oil and stir in right before serving, as it kind of got broken up during cooking.
This is just a simple weeknight dinner I had one night when Trevor was working late.  A Mediterranean inspired salad with leftover pita chips I posted about earlier, some cucumber slices and dressed with lemon, a drizzle of tahini, salt and pepper.  The toasted bagel has Tofutti cream cheese and cucumbers.  Oh, and a couple almond-stuffed olives for good measure.  Yum!
– Crystal