Another recipe this week from customer El. This is one of those recipes that's great for a weeknight supper and good all year round. El writes…
I was introduced to this dish by my vegan father-in-law. He is a walking advert for veganism. He literally looks 20 years younger than his chronological age: he has a head of lustrous black hair and is in great shape. With my stray grey hairs and flabby physique, I sometimes wonder if I look like his mother-in-law. I'm all for something that will make me look younger, so I was intrigued at this dish he presented. Peanuts and pasta? I was surprised but I love peanuts so I was excited by the prospect of utilising peanuts in a new way. This dish is warming, filling and satisfying. I've introduced this to vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters and they all love it.
Like a common cold, this dish has spread throughout my family. It's a staple in my family and now in my extended family. Everyone is delightfully surprised by this dish. The peanuts give the creamy and obviously nutty flavour which works nicely with the garlicky tomato sauce. It's hearty and does just the job when you're hungry.
The trick to this dish is that the vegetables shouldn't be too big. The carrots (organic ones are the best as they are extra sweet), celery and onion act as a base flavouring to the sauce so their roles are supporting actors rather than the main stars. Dice these finely, as small as you can, without cutting off your fingers and spending masses of time doing it.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy meat but it's good to take a break and experiment with new foods. This dish is cheap, good for animals (because you're not eating them) and for the environment (because forests aren't being cut down for cattle or for their feed) so why not give it a go, you'll be pleasantly surprised.
By the way, I can’t take the credit for this delicious recipe unfortunately. The original recipe came from my father-in-law’s wife, so my step-mother-in-law? She got it from a friend who got it from a cookbook and that was about 30 years ago. Clearly it’s stood the test of time and lives on with a few adjustments from me. I hope you enjoy it.
300g Dry roasted peanuts
Large pinch of mixed herbs
4 bulbs of crushed garlic (or go for more if you love garlic)
1 small onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 sticks of celery
1/2 small aubergine, diced into roughly 2cm cubes
Handful of chopped parsley
Give a good coating to a medium sauce pan with oil and put on a medium heat.
Put the diced onion, carrot and celery into the pan. Add a good pinch of mixed herbs. Let the vegetables sweat or, in nicer terms, stir them around and let them cook down a bit. Add the aubergine. Add more oil and stir. Let it cook down a bit.
Add the crushed garlic and stir. When the garlic is pungent, add the passata. Stir. Lower the heat so the sauce is simmering. Leave for the magic to happen. This should take about 20 minutes
In the meantime, put your pasta on and follow the cooking instructions on the packet. Do not throw the water away.
Whizz up the dry roast peanuts in a food processor so they break down into chunks. Don't blend them too finely. If you don't have a food processor, use the old hammer and plastic bag trick.
Once the sauce has reduced, taste. If it's reduced, the tomatoes shouldn't taste bitter. If it has reduced by about a quarter/half of its original size and for some reason, still taste bitter, stir in a teaspoon of sugar. This should change those naughty tomatoes' minds. Season to taste.
The pasta should be cooked by now, put 2 large spoonfuls of the pasta water into the sauce and stir. Drain the pasta and add into the pan of sauce. Add handful of chopped parsley. Mix all together and serve.
El is a lover of food and writing. Her favourite hobbies are cooking, staring at menus and spending too many hours in food markets.