AND A VIRTUAL BLACK HISTORY MONTH POTLUCK
Time flies. And January has been crazy for me. It took a couple of friends to drag me out of my little cubby-hole of work to come sit down here and share a little bit of food. I have some news I think I’ll be able to spill soon, which may help explain my blog spotiness, but until then, it feels good to be back writing. Sometimes I forget how nice it is to just write. Writing without rules, just to help organize some thoughts. It’s the reason I started the blog in the first place. For casual conversations with myself about food (to anyone who will listen and occasionally chime in) that help me understand who I am and what I like. And so, I thought to myself, what better way to continue this theme of coming back to my roots and my senses, than to cook some soul food packed with collard greens, hearty sweet potatoes, and, my favorite, crispy okra–minus all that extra oil. African Groundnut/Peanut Stew is an “afro-vegan” way to come back to my roots. I’m sure Bryant Terry would approve.
I’ve really been wanting to make peanut stew for so long really. It’s winter AND black history month is just around the corner, and so I’m happy I found the perfect time to get my big soup pot out from under the cabinets–deep DEEP back there, buried. This soup is my version of the pretty popular West African and Senegalese recipe that is essential thickened and seasoned with ground peanuts. Yes! this soup has a generous serving of peanut butter in it, lucky us, and it gives it a depth of flavor like nothing else. That creamy stuff mixed with the soy sauce (an ode to my Asian half) makes this soup sing! Here’s how I made it:
But first, here are links to all the other wonderful recipes, cooks and blogs that participated in the virtual black History Month Potluck. I wish we were really all sitting around the table sharing our food together and celebrating the complexities of our black voices.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH VIRTUAL POTLUCK
MAKES 4 SERVINGS OF SOUP:
- 5 tomatoes (I used ones on the vine)
- 10 fresh okra pods (optional, just for garnish later)
- 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-2 inches ginger, diced
- 1/4 habanero pepper, minced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 5 cups water or low sodium veggie stock
- 8 leaves collard greens, ribs removed first then rolled and cut into thin ribbons
- 2-4 Tbsp soy sauce, (I used low sodium)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter (I used Teddy’s)
Heat the oven to 450 degrees.
Line a sheet pan with parchment and add the tomatoes and okra to the pan. Drizzle generously with olive oil and season with salt and fresh cracked pepper and place in the oven on the middle rack. On a separate sheet pan spread out the cubed sweet potatoes, drizzle with olive oil and roast on the upper rack until tender and slightly charred on the edges, about 25-30 minutes.
Cook the tomatoes and okra in the oven until the tomatoes blister. Remove, allow to cool, and peel the outer skin off the tomatoes,. and set aside.
In a large pot, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until tender, about 3 minutes, careful not to burn. Add the minced ginger and diced habanero pepper and cook for another 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the tomato paste, the roasted tomatoes (breaking them up with the back of your spoon), and salt and pepper to taste. Add the water or veggie stock, and cook on medium for 25 minutes. Then add the soy sauce and lemon juice and fold in the thinly sliced collard greens and cook until the collards are tender, another 15-20 minutes. Stir in peanut butter and mix until all the peanut butter it well incorporated. Scoop out most of the collards and set aside in a small bowl (I like to remove the collards before blending the soup so the color stays bright orange. I also love grabbing wads of the strings of collards, it reminds me of eating long silky noodles YUM!)
Toss in half the roasted sweet potatoes, reserving the rest for topping, then ladle the soup into a blender, leaving 1- 2 cups still in the pot. Blend the soup until smooth, and pour back into the pot along with the rest of the unblended soup (This creates a semi-chunky soup which I love) Add the collards back into the pot, stir, bring to a simmer, and serve with the garnishes.
Garnish with the roasted okra (halved), roasted lightly salted peanuts, parsley, and the reserved roasted sweet potato! ENJOY!
Serve the soup with crunchy okra, a southern classic, which happens to be one of my favorites, instead of crusty bread or crackers.
Crispy Oven-Baked Okra:
MAKES 2 SERVINGS:
- 10 fresh okra pods
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp mild hot sauce (I used Texas Pete)
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl whisk together the eggs and hot sauce.
In a separate bowl combine the the brown rice flour and seasonings (smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper). Dip the okra into the egg mixture , drain and then dip it into the flour mixture and coat completely. Dip it back into the egg mixture and then again into the flour mixture, this way the okra has a double layer of crunch. Continue until all the okra is double coated. Line on a baking sheet with parchment, drizzle with olive oil, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until brown and super crunchy! Serve alongside the soup.