In the States, we eat it with jam or in cookies. If we’re getting really creative, we might throw in an apple or a stalk of celery with raisins. (Remember your childhood “ant-on-a-log” snacks?) In other regions of the world, though — notably Africa and southeast Asia — peanut butter is incorporated into everything from porridge to poultry.
Not only do peanuts have a stunningly rich nutritional portfolio, they add depth and creaminess to whatever they come across. They’re also easy to grow and easy to shove into your pocket and carry with you. Not bad for a misnamed plant! (Peanuts aren’t nuts — they’re actually legumes and grow underground. Most other nuts grow on trees, which is why allergen labels discern between peanuts and tree nuts. If you’re anywhere outside of the U.S., in fact, you would be calling peanuts “groundnuts.”)
Peanut butter is an intrinsic element of the sauce served in Thai restaurants alongside chicken satay, and peanut butter also forms the base flavors for Indonesian soups and sauces. (Along with coconut, lime, and cilantro.) Groundnut stew can be found across the African continent, and like their counterparts in southeast Asia, African cooks also like to pair PB with their poultry dishes. I think we ought to use PB more often in our own meals — we’re missing out!
An easy way to segue into using PB in savory settings is to try this simple glaze for carrots. You might want to use unsalted PB since you’ll be using soy sauce as well.
Peanut Butter-Maple Carrots
Simmer carrots in boiling water for about 5 minutes, then drain and set aside. In a separate bowl, stir together soy sauce, maple syrup, and PB. While you can adjust the amounts as you see fit, the basic proportions are equal parts soy and maple + a spoonful of PB. (I like PB a lot, so I would use 4 T. of soy, 4 T. of maple, and 3 T. of PB for about 8 carrots.)
Sautée PB mixture and cooked carrots in a nonstick pan over medium-low heat for about 8 minutes, stirring often to prevent the maple from clotting and scorching. Serve hot. (Tip: because this is such a flavorful side dish, it would make a great side to pass at Thanksgiving!)
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