19 December 2008

African Stew (Vegan)

Today's recipe is a product of our cooking for 'the freezer club'. In the freezer club, a number of people each cook one dish for 4-5 different families and freeze it. Then, on a given day, they all get together and swap their packets of frozen meals for 5 other packs of frozen meals. So, every one gets to try different things and basically cooks one day a month to receive 5 days of dinners.

I like to cook and like having people test recipes, so I also make 5 meals, but give my share of the proceeds to my oldest daughter. So, she gets to cook one day and gets 10 meals in return. A sweet deal for her and I get guinea pigs.

Well, this month, Tae is home, so she and I cooked up a vegan dish. We found a recipe for African Peanut-Potato Stew that seemed interesting.

We started cooking it, and both of us started having second thoughts. The smells just didn't seem to be coming together which is a worry when you are making 20-25 servings of something.

We did a little tweaking with quantities and spices, carried on and eventually it all worked out wonderfully. It was so good, in fact, that we ended up confiscating some for our own dinner before ladling out the portions.

The original recipe is oil-free except for the peanut butter, and has a fair bit of heat to it. Since Tae cannot handle any heat, we revised the recipe, adding grains of paradise and then carrots for more texture, and leaving out the hot parts.

The lack of oil in the original recipe when cooking the onions let the onion flavor disappear, so we felt the oil was worth using.

We added some yukon gold potato. The sweet potatoes will disintegrate completely, especially upon reheating, and we wanted some chunks remaining. The sturdier white potatoes and carrots, along with the chickpeas, give it all a bit more tooth.

We strongly recommend good fire roasted organic diced tomatoes for this recipe. The tomato is a big contributor to the dish, and the best is called for. Also, the char from the roasting adds to the visual appeal of the dish. The tomato juice, water and peanut butter ends up giving you a gorgeous sauce which almost looks like a cream sauce.

African Stew

1 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, cut into medium dice
2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbs minced fresh ginger
1 Tbs minced fresh garlic
1 1/2 Tbs ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground grains of paradise (optional)
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper (optional)
1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 lb yukon gold (or red) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 in cubes
6 -8 baby carrots, or 2 large carrots, cut into coins
2 15 oz cans Muir Glen Fire Roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
2 15 oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 lb green beans, cut in 1 inch pieces
3 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup chunky peanut butter

In a 6 qt pot over low-medium heat, heat olive oil, and then add onions. Sprinkle salt over onions and cook until the onions are starting to turn translucent.

Add garlic, ginger and spices and cook 2 minutes until fragrant.

Add the remaining ingredients. Cook, stirring gently every few minutes until the potatoes are cooked, around 20 minutes. Add water if the stew starts looking too thick to the point it might stick to the bottom and burn.

The stew is ready when the potatoes are cooked through. Taste for salt, and serve hot over brown rice.

Note: couscous is an excellent accompaniment in place of brown rice.

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