So, my mother got me a new cookbook for Christmas. She figured it was right up my alley, given that I have been really focused on making vegetarian choices for my family as of late. And it has a super-cute title on top of that: "Peas and Thank You: Simple Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love."
The author, Sarah Matheny, is an "attorney turned stay-at-home mom" from Keizer, OR. And I'm nothing if not a fan of local talent.
Sounds like a match made in heaven, right?
Well, it depends.
I have tried several recipes out of the book so far. Some have been EPIC FAILS, like the chocolate chip cookies (that my mom wasn't sure were fit to leave out for Santa) or the Tofu Fun Nuggets (seriously, the words "tofu" and "fun" should never even be in the same sentence, except for "It would sure be fun if tofu never appeared on my table again." And maybe I would have thought the final products would have been more fun if they hadn't taken me hours--yes, hours-- to prepare them or minutes--yes, minutes--for my family to decide that they truly were not fun, but disgusting).
Yet, there have also been several delightful recipes emerge as well, one of which I made for the first time last night: Spicy African Peanut Slow Cooker Soup (you can read Matheny's blog containing the original recipe).
Now, I've never been to Africa, and I've only had Ethiopian food a whopping three times in my life, so I'm certainly not the person to verify that this dish is authentically African. To be honest, it tastes a great deal like some of the Thai cuisine that I've had in the past, mainly because of the inclusion of peanut butter and coconut milk, both top-notch "can't go wrong" ingredients in my book. Add that to rich spices like cumin, curry powder, garam masala (a combination of black pepper, cumin, cardamom, and cinnamon) and some of my favorite plant products (sweet potatoes, tomatoes, garbanzo beans, and red lentils) and you have a winner-winner-no-chicken-dinner.
If this soup were a coat, it would be a warm, orange down parka with a hibiscus flower print--hearty, warm, and a bit tropical.
Don't let the name fool you, however. If you are looking for a spicy dish that will leave your tongue screaming, this is not that dish. No one in our household thought the soup was in any way spicy. And if you want to prepare it without using your slow cooker, it takes no time at all. Dump everything into a large pot and simmer for 20-30 minutes (this is the way I prepared it, and no regrets). We garnished only with cilantro (which I highly recommend)
Spicy African Peanut Slow Cooker Soup
from Sarah Matheny's "Peas and Thank You"
1 14-oz can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed (about 1 cup)
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 to 3/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 tsp minced garlic
sweetener to taste (organic sugar or stevia--although I didn't add a bit and it was perfect)
dash of cinnamon
1 14-oz can fire-roasted tomatoes, in juice
1 14-oz can light coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp natural peanut butter
1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
Garnishes: chopped cilantro, chopped peanuts, sour cream, or plain yogurt
Directions:Combine all ingredients in a Crock-Pot and set on high for about 30 minutes, then switch to low for an additional 3-4 hours. Serve and top with garnish(es) of choice.