This post is sponsored by ALDI USA. Thank you for supporting the brands who help make my work possible!
Back in December, when we were all stuffing our faces with holiday cookies and that third slice of pie, I asked you on Instagram what kind of recipes you wanted to see in the New Year. The majority of the answers I got involved some variation of “healthy,” but there were surprisingly few responses along the lines of “low calorie” or “low carb” or “salads.” In fact, I think there was just one or two.
I suspect this is, at least in part, due to the fact that I don’t promote a “low calorie” lifestyle, or any dietary fads for that matter. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love sharing recipes that are healthy!
I create lots of recipes with kale (including today’s recipe), for instance, but I never talk about the fact that kale is a low-cal food (how boring would that be??). Instead, I emphasize the overall goodness of eating leafy greens, which are rich in calcium, iron, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and help promote gut, brain, bone, and skin health.
In that vein, today’s recipe for a Vegan Gambian Peanut Stew is hearty enough to keep you satiated for hours, and it’s packed with aromatics and spices so it’ll satisfy your taste buds and winter comfort food cravings. But it’s also made with wholesome and nourishing ingredients, and is vegan, gluten-free, and plant-forward.
Please note: I originally titled this recipe Vegan West African Peanut Stew, but after doing more research on the various differences across West African peanut stews, I came to identify my particular recipe as being most influenced by Gambian Peanut Stew, aka domoda.
Whether your goals for 2020 include eating more plant-based foods, going vegan, or simply being more veg-curious, this recipe will help you get there! It’s made with some of my favorite ingredients from the plant world—sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, white beans, kale, and peanut butter (obviously)—and you can find it all at your local ALDI grocery store!
And not only can you find these plant-based staples at ALDI, you’ll also find them at crazy good prices! So you can eat healthy and save money in 2020!
Domoda is a type of West African Peanut Stew, so we obviously have to add some peanut butter!
Peanut stews are common in West African countries, including in Gambia as well as Senegal and Ghana, with variations abounding throughout the regions and across ethnic groups. Before the introduction of peanuts from the New World, this stew was made with groundnuts that are native to West Africa.
Some versions of peanut stew are soupier, others are thick stews served over grains such as millet, rice, or couscous; this recipe falls into the latter camp. Some versions contain okra or hot chilies or tomatoes.
In Gambia, the dish is called domoda, and you’ll find both vegetarian and meat versions, though the vegetarian version is more popular because meat is quite expensive. It usually contains peanut butter or peanut paste, tomatoes, chili peppers, and a vegetable such as sweet potatoes, carrots, or pumpkin.
In Senegal, the dish is called mafe. It is made with tomatoes, is spicy, and often served over rice. It’s typically made with meat or chicken, but for obvious reasons, my version does not contain meat or chicken.
While peanut butter might sound like an unusual ingredient in a stew, I promise you it blends effortlessly with the spices and aromatics and lends a creamy richness you’ll adore.
And I love the Simply Nature Organic Creamy Peanut Butter from ALDI! First, it’s made with just peanuts and sea salt (no added oils or sugar here). Two, it’s an organic, non-GMO peanut butter that is incredibly affordable. Three, thanks to its clean and simple ingredients, it’s one of 80 Simply Nature products that earned the Good Housekeeping Nutritionist Approved Emblem, which is basically an award for products that make it easier to eat healthier. Oh, and three, did I mention it is super creamy, just how I like my PB (sorry, crunchy PB fans).
As mentioned above, domoda may contain meat or not, and while many Westernized versions of this recipe are vegetarian, most of the latter do not contain a primary source of protein.
I chose to include white beans in my version to bring some additional protein and to make it super hearty, but also because white beans bring such a nice creaminess to stews and soups in a healthy way yet satisfying way. My favorite white bean to use here is cannellini beans (the king of creamy beans!), but any white bean will work just fine.
As with most of my stews/curries/soups, I start this recipe by sautéing some aromatics. This helps build layers of flavors and infuses more depth of flavor into the whole dish. In this recipe, I start with onions, garlic, ginger, and jalapeño peppers.
Often, peanut stews such as domoda are made with habanero peppers, but I find those to be too spicy for most of my readers, so I opted for jalapeño peppers here. If you’re very sensitive to spicy food, use just 1 jalapeño pepper and remove the seeds and membranes, where most of the heat lives. But if you can handle the heat, feel free to use a habanero pepper (the seeds are very spicy so I recommend removing them).
Speaking of aromatics, I love sautéing them in coconut oil. It brings a subtle buttery richness that a neutral oil wouldn’t bring. And even better, I found this *organic, cold-pressed* coconut oil at ALDI for just $4.89. Of course, the price may vary depending on where you live, but I’ve never seen organic, cold-pressed coconut oil at that price anywhere else in NYC!
The particular spices used in peanut stews vary across regions in West Africa, but I love using the combination of cumin, coriander, cloves, and cinnamon. If you don’t have all of these spices, luckily for you, you can find an affordable collection of spices at ALDI. Plus, once you stock up on some basic spices, they’ll last you quite a long time, provided you store them in a cool, dark, dry place (i.e., not directly above your oven, please!).
The sweet potatoes are key in this dish, as they bring a pleasant sweetness that balances the spices and acidity in this stew. And the longer you cook the stew, the more the sweet potatoes will fall apart and virtually melt into the stew.
Just be sure to dice your sweet potatoes pretty finely; if the pieces are too large, they won’t cook down as quickly and it’ll take longer to finish the stew.
I love finishing stews, soups and curries with kale. Just toss it in towards the end of cooking until they’re wilted. It’s an easy way to eat more greens that won’t make you feel like you’re eating yet another kale salad (all the chewing!).
If you don’t feel like chopping up a whole head of kale and measuring out 5 cups, you’re in luck again because ALDI has pre-washed, pre-chopped kale waiting for you! And it’s organic! I always prioritize buying organic kale because kale is regularly featured on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen (i.e., it’s one of the vegetables with the most pesticides when conventionally grown).
Since we’re knee-deep in winter and fresh tomatoes are not in season, I prefer to stick to canned tomatoes. I like the thick texture that crushed tomatoes bring to this stew, and I also add a few spoons of tomato paste for those concentrated umami flavors.
Tips for Making this Recipe
As mentioned earlier, be sure to dice your sweet potatoes finely to ensure they fully soften and almost melt into the stew.
This dish gets pretty creamy from the white beans, but if you want it to be even creamier, run an immersion blender through half of the stew at the end of cooking. Don’t blend the rest of the stew – you want to retain some texture.
This stew is hearty enough on its own, but to stretch out your meal (and budget), serve it over your favorite grain, such as white rice, brown rice, or quinoa.
Finish the domoda with some freshly squeezed lemon (or lime) juice. This final hit of acidity balances the spice in the stew and freshens up the flavors.
That’s all you need to know about making this vegan, gluten-free Vegan Gambian Peanut Stew (Domoda). I hope you head to your local ALDI to stock up on all these wholesome vegan staples and get to cooking! If you try the recipe, be sure to drop me a note with your feedback, and happy New Year!
- 1 ½ tablespoons Simply Nature Organic Coconut Oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger*
- 1-2 jalapeño peppers, diced**
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- Black pepper to taste
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or water
- 1 small handful of fresh thyme sprigs**
- 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- ½ cup Simply Nature Organic Creamy Peanut Butter
- 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 5 cups chopped organic kale
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (or lime juice)
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- For serving optional: white or brown rice or quinoa
- Heat a large, deep nonstick pan (or Dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Add the coconut oil, and once shimmering, add the onions with a pinch of kosher salt. Cook until the onions are just starting to brown, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add the garlic, ginger, jalapeño peppers, and Spice Blend. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring to coat the vegetables. If you are not using a nonstick pan, you may need to add a bit more coconut oil or a bit of water to prevent burning.
- Pour in the vegetable broth or water, stirring with a spatula to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the fresh thyme (if using), sweet potatoes, peanut butter, white beans, crushed tomatoes, and tomato paste. Stir well to combine.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low or medium-low to maintain a simmer for 20 minutes, or until the sweet potato is completely soft and tender.
- Optional step: If you’d like the stew to be very thick and creamy, run an immersion blender through half of the stew (don’t blend it all - you want to retain some texture).
- Add the chopped kale and simmer for 3-5 minutes, or until wilted. If desired, use a fork to smash the sweet potatoes to further thicken the stew.
- Stir in the lemon or lime juice and cilantro. Season to taste, adding more salt as needed. Serve with white or brown rice or quinoa, if desired.