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Nigerian-style White Bean and Pumpkin Stew

March 31, 2011

I know, it looks a little weird: pumpkin…curry…peanut butter? But try it, this is a very satisfying vegetarian dinner. And pretty quick, because I used some shortcuts for a change.

Ingredients:
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 large celery stalk, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 small hot green chile, seeded (or to taste) and minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 tbsp curry powder
1 can (14 oz.) whole tomatoes in juice
2 cans (14 oz. each) white navy beans
2 cups vegetable broth (or water, or chicken broth)
1 medium (approx. 1 lb.) kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into large (2-inch) chunks
1.5 tbsp smooth peanut butter
salt (to taste)
garnishes (optional): green onion, lemon or lime wedges, fresh cilantro

Method
1. Put the coconut oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion, bell pepper, celery and carrot.
2. Cook the vegetables with a pinch of salt until wilted, translucent, and fragrant. Add the garlic, ginger and chile and cook for a minute or so. Then, add the curry powder and stir for another minute.
3. Next, add the beans, broth, tomatoes and squash. And another pinch of salt. Break up the tomatoes using a wooden spoon or whatever you have handy. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a low simmer.
4. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes, until the squash is just tender. Remove about 1/2 cup of liquid from the pot into a small bowl. Add the peanut butter to the bowl and stir until you have a very smooth consistency (it should not look curdled). Pour the contents of the bowl back into your stew and stir to combine.
5. Continue to simmer for a few more minutes to blend flavors, and serve with any, all, or none of the optional garnishes.

Notes
– Almost any kind of beans would be good with this. Canellini, kidney beans, whatever you have around.
– Kabocha squash is my most favorite, but use whatever hard winter squash you can get your hands on. Acorn squash, butternut, delicata and sugar pumpkin would all be good. Sweet potatoes would work, too.
– Jif, Skippy, Peter Pan and their ilk are delicious for peanut butter cookies, and great to hoard in your emergency bunker with the bottled water, flashlights and antibiotics. However, they’re too sweet for this recipe. Use a natural peanut butter: the only ingredients on the label should be peanuts and salt.

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