Sunday, December 6, 2009

Peanut, Sweet Potato, Barley, and Bean Stew

I used up the last of my Rancho Gordo Lila beans in this stew. So good! :)

The impetus for this stew was my sweet potatoes. After being away for five days, one of my (newly bought) sweet potatoes decided to rot. :( Dave just put my bag of sweet potatoes in another plastic bag, and I wasn't able to do anything about it until late Friday night when I got home from work. So, late Friday night, I cleaned and cut off bad spots from my remaining sweet potatoes, and ended up peeling two. (Do I know how to start a weekend or what?) I wanted to use the peeled potatoes up before anything else weird happened with these sweet potatoes, so I used them to make this stew.

The stew uses barley, because J asked for barley while we were looking at the different grains on the table. She chose barley over this cool-looking burnt-umber colored rice I got at Fairways, standard white and brown rices, and kasha. I'm sure any other whole grain would work in this stew too. And next time I'll probably make it with a different grain, because Dave thinks that J has a hard time eating barley (she chews is slowly).

My inspiration for including the peanut butter was J and our breakfast this morning. I made us some Bob's Red Mill 10-grain cereal and she wanted me to add peanut butter to our hot cereal, in addition to our standard soy milk, pumpkin seeds, pecans, and dried cranberries. It creamed up really well and the little chunks of peanut tasted great in the cereal. So, I thought, why not try it in the soup. Not to mention that every recipe I've ever seen for African stew includes peanut butter and sweet potatoes or yams!

The main part of the stew is the beans. The delicious, and now finished, Lila beans.

1 cup dried Lila beans, soaked overnight or two nights
2-3 in piece of Kombu
2 T freshly ground organic peanut butter
handful of whole organic peanuts
2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into small cubes
1 cup pearl barley
1 square no-chicken vegetable bouillon (optional)
1 bunch Vitamin greens

What to do
Soak the beans. (Start on Friday night, get too busy on Saturday to make anything, and finally get to cook them on Sunday.) Cook the beans in a large pot with the Kombu. If the beans need more water as they cook, add boiling water to the pot to keep the beans from getting hard.

After the beans are finished cooking, add the sweet potato cubes, barley, and peanut butter. Add enough more water - everything should be covered. Don't dump the bean cooking water -- it's the broth for this stew. The barley will soak up a lot of water as it cooks, so make sure to add enough. Also, you can add the bouillon if you are using it now. You can add the peanuts now or right before serving, up to you. ( I added them earlier so that they could cook with everything else. I was also not sure if I would get to add them otherwise, as my little A was requiring lots of attention and nursing.) As the stew cooks, stir it regularly to break up the peanut butter and the bouillon and distribute evenly throughout the stew.

While the stew is cooking, chop the greens (including stems). Put them in a pan with some water, cover, and sweat for 5-7 minutes, adding water as needed to keep the greens from scorching.

To serve, put the stew into a bowl and top with the greens. See J's bowl below. That's her cheesing it up for my cell phone camera (we can't find our camera since our trip to Maryland! Have you seen it?).

If reheating, you'll probably want to add more water, as the barley continues to soak up the broth. We have one serving left of this, which J will get for a meal this week.

I have the coolest kids. J asked for the greens for her snack this afternoon (D asked, J, do you want a cookie. J replies, no, I want greens!). And A had some of the greens for dinner tonight. Heehee.

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