Cookbook challenge - hearty

This week's theme was hearty, which lead to a discussion about what makes a meal hearty. We agreed that some soups are hearty, but not all soups are. I think stews are hearty, and that a stew that can't be described as hearty isn't a very good stew at all. My dining companion in chief disagreed. In the end, neither of us could describe what qualifies. I think this recipe is, he wasn't entirely convinced. Regardless, it's very enjoyable and certainly didn't leave me any room for dessert.

The recipe is from one of my newest books - Vegetarian Slow Cooker: Over 200 Delicious Recipes. I wanted dinner a little bit quicker than that, so cooked it all in my favourite French oven. It worked perfectly well this way, and I probably wouldn't get my slow cooker out unless I needed the oven for something else. I replaced the peanuts with cashews and cashew almond and brazil nut paste, as I prefer their flavour. Since they're not as strongly flavoured as peanuts, I think I'd use half a jalapeno next time, with the added benefit of letting the flavour of the ancho through, too.

All in all, my only quibble with the recipe is the name. Describing something as an "African stew" makes about as much sense as calling ratatouille "European". Still, that's the name the cookbook used, so that's what I'll go with.

African-style Peanut Stew

2 tbspn coconut oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbspn ginger, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tspn cracked pepper
800g tinned tomatoes, with juice
2 cups vegetable stock
1 sweet potato, cubed
2 dried ancho chillies
1/2 to 1 jalapeno chilli, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter
1/4 cup coriander, roughly chopped
1 capsicum, seeded and diced
1/4 cup roasted peanuts


Preheat oven to 190 Celsius. Heat the oil in a large French oven or stockpot. Add onions, celery and carrots and cook, stirring, until softened.

Cook the vegies for around 7 minutes
Add garlic, ginger, slat and pepper, and cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice and stir well. Add vegetable stock and sweet potato. Place lid on pot and cook for around one hour.
Ready to go in the oven
Meanwhile, soak the ancho peppers in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain, discarding the liquid and stems. Transfer to a blender, and add the jalapeno, peanut paste, coriander, and around 1/2 a cup of the stew liquid. Puree. Add to the pot along with the capsicum, cover and cook for another 15 to 30 minutes until the capsicum is tender and the flavours have melded. Serve over brown rice, garnished with roasted peanuts.


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