Over the last couple of years, our diet has slowly shifted away from meat. At first, our meals featured chicken a lot more than red meat. At some point, I found myself ordering fish from Fresh Direct and Good Eggs more and more often, until I cooked some kind of seafood at least three times a week. And in the last few months, I have found myself making a completely vegetarian meal for us at least once a week, sometimes twice. It helps that we have access to great vegetables from both local farmers (thank you Good Eggs and farmers’ markets) and far away ones (thank you Whole Foods and Fresh Direct).
Our go-to vegetarian meal has been my mom’s lentil recipe (sometimes with the addition of a little smoked fish, so…vegetarianish). But I have also cooked beans a few times, boiled in water with potatoes and carrots, that we ate with lots of olive oil and lemon juice (my favorite bean dish as a kid). So for Christmas, I gave Steve a 5lb box of five different kinds of dried beans from Rancho Gordo (isn’t it such a romantic gift? <insert fart joke here>). I’ve been cooking beans once a week since then, experimenting with different ways of preparing them.
Today’s recipe does not have beens in it, but it’s vegetarian. In fact, it’s vegan. It’s the result of needing to use up a bunch of veggies I bought in preparation for the giant snowstorm that never came last week. I had leeks, kohlrabi, and sweet potatoes. Not an obvious combination of ingredients. For some reason, however, I remembered a stew I used to make many years ago, that was based on a West African dish made with peanuts. I no longer had that recipe but I figured I could make one up myself. And I did. The result was a thick, rich, vegetarian stew that was perfect for a cold winter night. And a nice addition to our list of vegetarian meals.
Note: I’ve noticed that some people have identified that this is a paleo recipe as well, though I thought that peanuts were not paleo. In any case, if you are a paleo enthusiast but you still eat peanuts, this is for you.
Makes 5-6 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 leeks, dark green parts discarded, white parts sliced thinly crosswise
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon paprika
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 cups vegetable stock
2 medium sized kohlrabi, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
1 14oz can of dice tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup natural-style (no sugar added) peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
1/2 cup basmati or jasmine rice
hot sauce (optional)
Place peanut butter in a medium-sized heat-proof bowl and set aside.
In a large heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add leeks and sauté stirring frequently until soft, about 5 minutes. Add cinnamon, paprika, and garlic. Continue to cook, stirring constantly for about 30-45 seconds. Add stock, kohlrabi, potato, tomatoes with their juices, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium-low, cover pot and cook for 10 minutes.
Uncover pot and add some of the hot liquid in the bowl with the peanut butter. Use a spoon or whisk to help the peanut butter dissolve. Pour dissolved peanut butter back into pot and add rice. Raise heat to medium-high and bring back to a low boil. Lower heat to medium-low and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until rice and potatoes are fully cooked (kohlrabi will still have a slight crunch). Adjust salt if necessary. Remove and discard bay leaves.
Serve immediately, topped with your favorite hot sauce.