Saturday, November 10, 2007

Greens (Food not Politics)

One of the biggest Vietnamese grocery stores in my neighborhood has started to carry African foods. They have put a big handwritten sign in the window reading,

After writing about many African countries, I can write this sentence from memory:
"Cassava (also called manioc or yuca, and the source of tapioca) is a staple crop of [fill in sub-Saharan African country]. People eat both the tubers and the leaves."
But I have never eaten them.
I am excited to try them out in the recipe, below, that I put in a book about the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC/Congo-Kinshasa, formerly Zaire). But I'm not eager to try goat meat.

I've made this recipe with kale, and it's great.

Greens with Peanut Sauce

This dish is common throughout central Africa. Cooks make it with any number of greens, including cassava leaves, collards, and spinach. Spinach and peanuts are native to Africa, and the Portuguese introduced bell peppers and tomatoes from South America.

1 onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tomato, chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
dash of black pepper
dash of cayenne (red) pepper
1 pound greens, washed, stems removed
¼ cup of water
½ cup peanut butter (recipe for homemade pb follows, below)

1. On medium heat, fry the onion and green pepper in oil in large frying pan for 10 minutes, or until tender.

2. Add tomato, salt, black and red pepper, and cook 5 more minutes. Add greens and ¼ cup water. Turn heat to low, and cover pan. Simmer until greens are wilted (time will vary by density of the green--spinach will only take 1 minute, kale maybe 10).

3. Remove a little liquid from pan, and stir into peanut butter. Add peanut butter to pan. Simmer and stir until sauce is smooth and hot.

Serve with rice. Serves 4.

Peanut Butter
To make peanut butter the African way, remove the shells from ½ cup of fresh peanuts. Roast the peanuts in a frying pan (or on cookie sheet in oven), stirring often, until browned. Then cool, and remove the skins. Return peanuts to pan, and cover partially with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat, stirring often, to soften. Crush peanuts with a potato-masher.

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