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Austin Steele/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS African sweet potato-peanut stew is garnished with chopped peanuts

The savory side of peanut butter

I think we can all agree that peanut butter is the most perfect food ever invented — the ultimate expression of man’s genius.

Though peanut butter is the nectar of the gods, we mortals can enjoy it, too. And it doesn’t have to be in a sandwich.

Peanut Butter Hummus

Yield: 4 servings

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter, preferably natural

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon cumin

1 clove garlic, mashed

1/3 cup warm water

¼ teaspoon salt

Combine chickpeas, peanut butter, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin and garlic in a food processor. Add water and salt, and process until smooth.

— Adapted from Men’s Health

Cold Noodles With Chicken And Peanuts

Yield: 6 appetizer servings

¼ cup water

3 tablespoons peanut butter

3 tablespoons peanut oil

3 tablespoons red rice vinegar or red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

3 tablespoons light soy sauce

1 tablespoon Asian (toasted) sesame oil

1 pound fresh egg noodles, cooked and chilled

1 cup cooked, shredded chicken

½ cup roasted peanuts, chopped

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

¼ cup minced green onion or chives

Combine water, peanut butter, peanut oil, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil; blend well and set aside. Place chilled noodles on serving dish or bowl and top with chicken, peanuts, sesame seeds and green onions or chives. Drizzle with dressing and serve.

— Recipe from “Regional Cooking of China,” by Maggie Gin

African Sweet Potato-Peanut Stew

Yield: 6 servings

3 cloves garlic

2 cups fresh cilantro leaves and stems

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

½ cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky)

2 teaspoons ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¾ teaspoon salt

1 cup water

3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)

½ pound green beans, trimmed

In blender or food processor, blend garlic, cilantro, tomatoes with their juice, peanut butter, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and salt until puréed. Pour into a slow cooker and stir in water. Add sweet potatoes and chickpeas; stir to combine. Cover and cook as manufacturer directs on low setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours, until potatoes are very tender.

About 10 minutes before sweet potatoes are done, pour just enough water to cover green beans into a skillet or pot; add a pinch or two of salt if desired. Heat to a boil and add the green beans; cook until crisp-tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain, and stir into the sweet potato mixture before serving.

— Adapted from delish.com

Peanut Butter-Tofu Stir Fry

Yield: 4 servings

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

1 pound tofu, drained, cut into cubes

Cornstarch, for tossing tofu

1 yellow onion, sliced

1 yellow bell pepper, sliced

¼ head red cabbage, thinly sliced

2 heads baby bok choy, roughly chopped

¼ cup peanut butter

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons sesame oil

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Toss cubed tofu in cornstarch to lightly coat. Cook tofu until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes, then transfer to a plate.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in skillet and add onion, pepper and cabbage. Cook until soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Add bok choy and cook until wilted but still crisp-tender, 2 minutes. Return tofu to skillet.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce and sesame oil. Pour into skillet until completely coated.

— Recipe from delish.com

Cauliflower-Lime Curry

Yield: 4 servings

1 cup uncooked basmati rice

2 limes

1 can light coconut milk, divided

1 medium onion

1 teaspoon curry powder

Salt

¼ cup chunky peanut butter

¼ cup water

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets

1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas

Prepare rice according to directions. Finely grate lime peels into a small bowl. Squeeze 2 tablespoons lime juice into another small bowl.

In a 5- to 6-quart pot, heat ½ cup of the coconut milk on medium-high until bubbling. Add onion, curry powder and ¼ teaspoon salt; cook 5 to 6 minutes or until pot is almost dry and onions begin to soften, stirring frequently.

Into pot with onion, whisk peanut butter, water and remaining coconut milk. Heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat to medium. Add cauliflower and chickpeas; cover and cook 10 minutes or until cauliflower is tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in reserved lime juice and ¼ teaspoon salt.

When rice is cooked, fluff with fork; gently fold in reserved lime zest. Serve curry with rice.

— Recipe from delish.com

Scallops With Snow Peas, Cauliflower And Peanut Panade

Yield: 4 servings

2 teaspoons madras curry powder

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil, divided

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Salt and pepper

½ pound cauliflower florets

4 ounces snow peas

1½ tablespoons salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs

16 large sea scallops

Cilantro sprigs

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a small bowl, stir the curry powder into ¼ cup of the oil and let stand for 15 minutes. Let the spices settle, then pour the oil into another small bowl, stopping before you reach the solids. Whisk the lime juice into the curry oil and season this vinaigrette with salt and pepper.

In a small baking dish, toss the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt. Roast on the top rack of the oven, stirring once, until the cauliflower is tender and lightly browned in spots, about 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the snow peas and cook for 1 minute, until crisp-tender and bright green. Drain, cool under water and pat dry.

In a skillet, toast the bread crumbs in 1 tablespoon of the oil until golden, 1 minute. Transfer the bread crumbs to a small bowl and let cool. Stir in the peanuts and peanut butter and season this panade with salt.

Preheat the broiler. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, ovenproof skillet until nearly smoking. Season the scallops with salt and pepper, add them to the pan and cook over high heat until well browned and crusty on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the scallops and continue to cook 1 minute while you spoon a dollop of the peanut panade onto each one. Broil for 10 seconds, until the panade is heated through.

Transfer the scallops to plates and arrange the cauliflower and snow peas around them. Drizzle the curry vinaigrette all around, garnish with cilantro sprigs, and serve.

— Adapted from a recipe by Grant Achatz

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