Whenever I want to give to someone or the world in some way, I usually provide homemade food. A while back, a friend could not eat solid food due to a car accident and was tired of the liquids she was forced to eat. I wanted to provide her with something nourishing, filling and interesting. I created a version of a ground nut stew from West Africa – a stew of tomatoes, sweet potatoes, hearty greens, and peanuts. A surprising combination of foods and flavors that work well together. Rather than leave it chunky as a stew, I blended it into a drinkable soup. It was rich, tasty, and filling. I was dreaming about this stew the other night and wanted to recreate it with almond butter. The stew is typically served over rice with chicken. I decided to serve it as a sauce with sweet potato noodles and broccoli along with sesame seeds, almonds, and sunflower seeds for texture a bit of protein. This dish is nourishing, full of texture and depth and satisfying hot or cold with or without the broccoli.
I am in love with this dish because I am incorporating four cultures – West African, Indian, Thai and what I am calling new healthy American. The stew is inspired from a traditional West African dish. I incorporate spices and cook them with traditional Indian techniques. I thought about Thai peanut sauces with ginger, sesame and often with vegetable like broccoli. And finally served over sweet potato noodles which I deem new healthy American because I do believe the spiralizing craze began here. And the sunflower seeds and nuts are an important part of my American vegetarian diet.
The stew is an easy one to make. I mentioned that it is one that is traditionally made with peanuts and peanut butter which provides a richer taste and can easily be used in place of almond butter in this recipe. I made it with almond butter to keep it free of legumes and friendly for those on Whole30. But if you are not bothered by peanuts, I highly recommend trying this recipe with peanut butter – the flavor is amazing.
Start by heating the coconut oil and frying the spices until they are fragrant. Then add in the ginger and let cook for another 30 sec to 1 min. Add in the onion and carrots and coat with the spices. Red onions are sweeter than white onions and are typically better eaten raw, but they can be cooked down for a sweeter onion. Vidalia onions are also good for this purpose. Yellow onions are fine, I just recommend cooking them a bit longer to release the sugars and caramelize them.
Add in the sweet potato, sun dried tomato, salt and garlic and toss with the onions and carrots. You may wonder why I state to cook each ingredient for 1-5 min before adding the next. This helps release sweetness from each of these veggies rather than adding them all in at once. It adds layers of flavor.
Add in the broth, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. The sundried tomatoes will absorb some liquid. Then remove some of the soup liquid and the sundried tomatoes blend with the almond butter until smooth.
Take note of the almond butter or peanut butter you are using if you are not making it fresh – pay attention to the salt and added ingredients because it can impact the taste of the sauce.
Return it back to the pot, add in the leafy greens and cook for an additional 10-15 min. Collards are heartier and more traditional. Kale or chard may also be used. Tuscan (also known as dinosaur or lacinato kale) is a bit sweeter than curly kale. I use a combination of collards and Tuscan kale. Just remember that collards require a longer cooking time.
Add the apple cider or coconut vinegar – which adds a bit of brightness and cut through the fat.
Once cooked, remove the soup from the heat and blend the entire pot of soup in batches in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth. I do a combination of both to make the sauce smooth.
After the immersion blender, as I said, I blend it again in my vitamix to create a smooth velvety sauce.
I store the sauce in batches and freeze and cook with noodles when I am ready to eat.
Place some of the sauce in a pot and add in spiralized sweet potato noodles. There are so many kinds of sweet potatoes available. The orange is the most common. For noodles, at times I use other varieties because colors in food add different nutrients into your diet and change things up. I would not use the other varieties of sweet potatoes in the sauce because they are not as sweet as the orange variety, but they do work well as noodles.
However, this time, using what I had in stock, I stuck to the more common orange variety. Cook the noodles in the sauce for 3-10 min, until desired tenderness. I prefer a more crisp bite which works well when I serve the dish cold or for left overs. But some prefer a more tender noodle.
Serve the noodles and sauce in a bowl and garnish with steamed broccoli florets, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and almond slices.
Rich, hearty, full of veggies.
So fresh and inviting. Crunchy. Flavorful. Packed with protein and whole foods. It tastes great hot or cold. With and without broccoli.
Spicy Almond Butter, Collard, Kale and Sweet Potato Sauce with Sweet Potato Noodles and Broccoli
- 1.5 Tbs coconut oil
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground clove
- 1/8 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (depends on your preferred spice level)
- 2 Tbs ginger, minced
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced + 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and spiralized
- 5-7 sundried tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp salt + some for taste
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 bunch tuscan kale or collards, stems removed and chopped
- 2 teaspoons apple cider or coconut vinegar
- 3/4 cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- Sesame seeds, white or black or mixed for garnish
- Sunflower seeds for garnish
- Sliced almonds (or raw peanuts) for garnish
Heat the coconut oil in a large pot or dutch oven. Add in cumin, clove and cayenne and fry the spices until they are fragrant – about 10-30 secs. Add in the ginger and let cook for another 30 sec to 1 min. Add in the onion and cook for 2 min. Add carrots and coat with the spices and cook for 3-5 min.
Add in the sweet potato and let cook for an additional 5-7 min. Add in sun dried tomato, salt and garlic, toss with the onions, carrot and sweet potato and cook for about 2 min. Add in the broth, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Simmer partially covered for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Remove about 1 cup of liquid and and the sundried tomatoes and place in a blender. It’s ok if some of the other veggies are included. Add almond butter. Blend until smooth. Return to pot.
Add collards and simmer partially covered cook for 10 min. Add Tuscan kale and cook for an additional 5 minutes (Note collards take the most time to cook; chard the least, kale in the middle – adjust time according to green used). Add in apple cider vinegar and stir. Remove from heat.
Blend in batches in a blender or use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. Return blended soup to pot. Taste and adjust for salt and seasoning.
Add in spiralized sweet potato noodles and cook in sauce over low heat for about 3-10 minutes until noodles are at the desired tenderness. Remove from heat.
Steam the broccoli florets. To steam, add a small amount of water with the florets in a covered pan or pot over low heat and cook until the florets turn bright green. Add a touch of salt and toss.
Place noodles with sauce into a wide bowl or plate. Garnish with sunflower seeds and almond slices (or peanuts). Top with florets. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve warm.