If you’ve been looking for that perfect vegetarian stew recipe, look no further.
West African Peanut Stew is hearty, comforting, and not shy on flavor. I was stunned because it is made from such simple, healthy ingredients that aren’t at all hard to find.
Crops in West Africa
Now how did a sweet potato stew with peanut butter come to be? Let’s have a look at the landscape of West Africa. There are 16 nations, all with their own unique cultures. It has a coastline alongside the Atlantic Ocean, and intersecting rivers throughout with the Niger River being the largest. The top crops of the region are peanuts, sorghum, millet, cassava, sweet potato, rice, cacao and coffee. These cash crops date back two centuries to the time of European colonization, likely brought over from Great Britain and France. They remain driving forces in the West African economy today.
Here’s to eating local
Yes, whomever invented this stew had the right idea: use locally-sourced ingredients, because hey, fresh is best. Making sweet potato the star of the dish is not unusual in this region. Many West African dishes are heavy on starches because they’re in abundance, easy to grow, and a great energy source. The most popular starches are sweet potatoes, millet, corn, rice, and black-eyes peas.
But I digress, what makes this African Peanut Stew wonderfully unique is the simplicity of ingredients and how much of a nutrient powerhouse it is. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of fiber, Vitamin A, C, and antioxidants, who knew? The black beans are high in protein, fiber, and iron. Finally the spinach is packed with iron, calcium, and magnesium and acts as the low calorie player in the dish.
Let’s get cooking
West African Peanut Stew requires very little prep work so that’s an added bonus for busy weeknights. Really all you need to do is peel and chop the sweet potatoes, dice the onion, mince the garlic and ginger and you’re nearly there. If you want to turn up the heat a notch you have the option to add more ginger or hot pepper.
Step by step photos:
- Gather all your ingredients and have them chopped, measured and ready to go.
- Heat a large Dutch oven on medium heat with the vegetable oil. Add the onion and sauté until translucent.
- Add the ginger, garlic, jalapeño, tomato paste and coriander then cook for 2 minutes stirring frequently.
- Place the cut sweet potatoes and vegetable stock then simmer for 15 minutes until they are fork tender. Do not let them get too soft.
- Turn off the heat and add the peanut butter, corn, spinach and black beans.
- Stir to combine all the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle with cilantro and enjoy plain or with steamed rice.
Frequently asked questions:
- How long can I save this soup? You can store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container. Be sure to completely cool the soup before storing in the refrigerator.
- Can I freeze this stew? No, since this soup contains whole pieces of potato they will get very mushy once thawed.
Would you like to explore more stew recipes that may be a change from your regular one or a but exotic? Moroccan harira is a hearty chickpea and lentil stew with sone incredible flavors and easy to make. Who doesn't like chicken soup? How about one with a punch of lemon flavor in traditional Greek avgolemono that is rich, creamy with no dairy. Many Middle Eastern restaurants serve a simple lentil soup that is really easy make with flavors that are bold. This soup freezes well and I keep some on hand to break out for a meatless quick meal.
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West African Peanut Stew Recipe
Simple healthy ingredients make up this vegetarian stew with bold flavors that will take you by surprise.
- 4 sweet potatoes medium, peeled and cubed
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion sweet, diced fine
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 jalapeño seeded and chopped fine
- 1 Tbsp ginger fresh, minced or microplaned
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- ½ cup peanut butter smooth
- 1 Tbsp coriander powder
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup corn whole kernels, rinsed canned or frozen
- 3 cups spinach fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 15.5 oz black beans 1 can, drained and rinsed
- salt to taste
Wash the sweet potatoes, peel and dice into 1 inch cubes. Set aside.
Dice the onion, mice the garlic and ginger. Seed and dice the jalapeño then set aside.
Add the vegetable oil to a large Dutch oven on medium heat. Sauté the onion until it is translucent.
Add the ginger, garlic, jalapeño, tomato paste and coriander. Stir to combine and cook for 12 minutes stirring frequently.
Add the sweet potatoes and vegetable stock. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Reduce the heat to keep from boiling if necessary.
Once the potatoes are just soft turn off the heat then add the peanut butter, corn, spinach and black beans. Add salt to taste.
Serve with a sprinkle of cilantro on top. You can enjoy it plain for with steamed rice.