West African peanut stew is made with chicken, sweet potatoes, tomato, bell pepper and collard greens. (Photo by Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post)

West African peanut stew is made with chicken, sweet potatoes, tomato, bell pepper and collard greens. (Photo by Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post)

Peanut butter helps West African-style stew find the ‘sweet spot’

This recipe is a colorful medley of sweet potatoes, tomato, bell pepper and collard greens.

I am on a constant quest for exciting ways to hit what I call the “sweet spot,” where delicious and healthy meet. Happily, there are endless such discoveries to be made by exploring cuisines from around the globe, and it’s doubly nice when their ingredients are easily accessible as they are for this wonderful West African-inspired one-pot meal.

The stew’s distinctive taste comes from its unexpected combination of familiar flavors: peanut butter, which provides a creamy, toasty richness; and a warm, earthy spice blend of cumin, coriander, turmeric and cinnamon. These healthful seasonings add richness, nutrition and depth to the colorful medley of sweet potatoes, tomato, bell pepper and collard greens that is studded with plump chunks of chicken breast.

If you are feeling a little bored with your health-conscious eating routine, this sumptuously satisfying dish is sure to shake things up.

West African peanut stew with chicken

1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons peanut oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2½- to 3-inch piece peeled fresh ginger root, minced (2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

14.5-ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, with juices

1 medium sweet potato (12 ounces), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

½ bunch collard greens (tough ribs discarded), leaves chopped (about 3 cups total)

2 medium red bell peppers, seeded and chopped

⅓ cup natural-style peanut butter (smooth or chunky)

6 tablespoons chopped roasted unsalted peanuts, for garnish

Season the chicken with 1⁄4 teaspoon of the salt and the black pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a Dutch oven or other large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add half the chicken and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring, until it loses its raw look and is lightly browned in spots, then transfer to a plate. Repeat with another tablespoon of the oil and the remaining chicken, transferring the meat to the plate as well.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pot; reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon and the remaining 3⁄4 teaspoon of salt; cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

Stir in the broth, tomatoes and their juices, the sweet potato, collard greens and red bell peppers; once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Return the chicken with any accumulated juices to the pot. Increase the heat to medium; once the mixture starts to boil, stir in the peanut butter until well incorporated; cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the chicken is thoroughly done.

Serve warm, topped with the chopped peanuts.

Makes 6 servings (about 11 1⁄2 cups). Nutrition per serving: 410 calories, 35 grams protein, 26 grams carbohydrates, 18 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 85 milligrams cholesterol, 380 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber, 8 grams sugar.

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