A delectable sweet potato and okra stew in a rich peanut butter base, this is a westernized version of a typical African recipe.
In its original form, African peanut stew is referred to as maafe or groundnut soup. I first made this stew many moons ago as part of an “African feast” at my kids’ school, in conjunction with a class project.
Since I was already known as a food person, I was corralled to oversee its preparation. We tried to stick with the original ingredients as much as possible, focusing on the veggies — sweet potatoes, cabbage, greens, and okra.
Privately, I doubted that any of the kids (then third and fourth graders) would eat this, especially because of the okra — not your most kid-friendly vegetable. I couldn’t have been more mistaken! The kids not only loved making it, but every last drop was scraped from the huge pot. Maybe it’s the peanut butter…
Traditionally, this stew is eaten with a mashed root vegetable or a mushy grain, like cooked millet, but I prefer leaving that out and serving with Vegan Jalapeño Cornbread, a fantastic accompaniment with this peanut butter-flavored stew.
Recipe adapted from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large red or yellow onion, chopped
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups shredded green cabbage
- 2 medium-large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (see tip in notes)
- 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
- 2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, or from a squeeze bottle, or more to taste
- 2 cups trimmed and sliced fresh okra, or a 10- to 12-ounce package frozen sliced okra, thawed (see Note)
- 3/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter
- 2 cups or so thinly shredded kale or collard greens, or a couple of big handfuls of baby spinach
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
- Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat until the onion is golden.
- Add the cabbage, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, ginger, and 3 cups water. Bring to a simmer, then simmer gently, covered, until the sweet potatoes and cabbage are nearly tender, about 15 minutes.
- Add the okra, then stir in the peanut butter, a little at a time, until it melts into the broth. Stir in the cayenne or red pepper flakes, then simmer gently, covered, for 10 minutes longer, or until all the vegetables are tender. Add a bit more water if needed for a moist but not soupy consistency.
- Season with salt, pepper, and dried hot red pepper flakes. Or, you can also leave out the red pepper flakes and pass them around to do so in the entire stew, or in individual portions.
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