Wednesday, March 17, 2010
African Peanut Stew with Whole Wheat Couscous
This isn't exactly Irish fare, but I wanted comfort food tonight. So, please forgive me for making a Nigerian dish on St. Patrick's Day. It's just been one of those kinds of weeks!
In case you hadn't noticed, I love bold flavors. Doesn't always have to be "hot" spicy, but it must always have LOTS of flavor. Becoming vegan opened up a whole new world of spices and seasonings for me, and so far I haven't found one yet that I don't like. I have definitely discovered some peppers that I can't tolerate, but no seasonings that don't suit me.
This dish has the wonderful smokey flavor of cumin and chili powder, with the slight sweetness of coriander, and while I made it pretty hot with crushed red pepper flakes, it would be just as delightful without the heat. In fact, I think kids might really like the peanutty-ness of this one!
This dish is loosely based on a recipe from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. If you have never checked out her cookbooks, they are quite wonderful!
African Peanut Stew
2 cans beans - I used pintos, but kidney beans are more traditional
1 cup chopped celery
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 tbs whole cumin seeds
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tbs chili powder
1 tsp salt
a BIG pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven. Add celery, onion, and carrots. Cook until vegetables are tender.
Add cumin seeds, chili powder, red pepper flakes, and coriander. Cook until seeds begin to splutter, or pop, and the spices form a kind of paste.
Add beans, with their liquid. Stir to combine. Add tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 8-10 minutes.
Stir in peanut butter, stirring until it melts into the rest of the dish. If you use freshly ground peanut butter, you can mix it with some of the hot liquid from the stew before adding it to the pot. Replace cover and return to simmer while you prepare the couscous.
Follow the package directions to prepare the couscous. I used whole wheat couscous, cooked with about a tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tsp of salt. I also added 1/2 cup of lightly toasted pine nuts, which adds a yummy crunch. If you like, you can squeeze the juice of the other half of the lemon over the couscous.
Finish off the stew by stirring in the lemon juice and spooning it over bowls of couscous.