Groundnut and Greens Palaver with Black-Eyes

It’s the first day of autumn here on the west coast, and it’s raining, it’s cold, and I’m sick & busy. I froze some of this soup last spring during a more leisurely spell, and ingesting it is improving the quality of my life manifold. This stew is hot, rich, spicy, and packed with everything one needs for happy sustenance. It’s lifted straight off the pages of Crescent Dragonwagon’s “Passionate Vegetarian”.


  • 6 cups filtered water
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 serrano chile, diced (you choose: seeds or no seeds)
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 to 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 8 to 10 gratings fresh nutmeg
  • 1 can (10 oz.) tomatoes and green chiles (I don’t buy this, so I use canned tomatoes and extra chiles somewhere else)
  • 1 large sweet potato, 1-inch dice
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter (organic & straight up if possible — peanuts are really good at absorbing pesticide, so they’re one of the top priority food items to buy organic)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • about 2 tablespoons tamari or shoyu (soy sauce)
  • 1 pound spinach or whatever leafy green vegetable you have on hand, very well rinsed and chopped
  • 1/2 pound mustard greens, or whatever spicy delicious leafy green vegetable you have on hand (i.e. arugula…)
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh okra (or something else green and chunky like green pepper, green bean…)
  • 3 cups cooked black-eyed peas
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the water on to boil.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute until starting to soften, about 4 min. Add the serrano, curry powder, cayenne, and nutmeg and saute for another minute while stirring. Add 4 cups of the boiling water, and the canned tomatoes and sweet potato. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Simmer, half-covered, for 15 min.

Place the peanut butter in a large bowl. Add the remaining boiling water to it, whisking constantly to bled. When blended, whisk in the tomato paste, and set aside.

Add the 2 tablespoons soy sauce, spinach, mustard greens, and okra to the simmering palaver. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Carefully stir in the peanut butter mixture. It will take some stirring to blend it all in. When smooth, add the black-eyed peas and cook until everything’s hot. Season with the salt and pepper!


12 Comments Add yours

  1. Glenda Berry says:

    Wow! This sounds perfect for a cool day. I am sharing this recipe with my friend Diana. She used to live in the South and she loves all the ingrediants in this stew. I’m hoping she will make a big pot to share!

  2. Oh hooray!
    Spread it around 😀

  3. Hey Silvi!

    This sound nourishing, delicious and very unusual! I was curious if this is from the imagination of the author or if it might be inspired a bit by African cuisine, which I don’t know much about….but a sort of recall reading a recipe for a stew with some of these ingredients (peanuts, okra, bitter greens, black eyed peas, yams). So I did a little bit of research and a Palaver is an African stew….this website seemed to have lots of info about African cooking
    I will totally try this dish…it seems like it would be pure yummy energy!


  4. Erin —

    It’s so good. You would love it.

    Yes, it is definitely African-inspired. The peanut is from Africa, so they have some interesting ways of cooking it, I understand. Here’s an excerpt from the intro to this recipe. Passionate Vegetarian has a lot of good writing in it:

    “How appropriate, I thought, understanding ‘palaver’ to mean casual conversation, sit-around storytelling–just what you’d be likely to do over a good pot of stew. I wasn’t entirely wrong. According to the Dictionary of Word Origins, by John Ayto, it ‘originated as a piece of naval slag picked up by English sailors in Africa. There they came across Portuguese traders negotiating with the local inhabitants, a process known in Portuguese as palavra, ‘speech’ (a descendant of Latin parabola, source of English parable). They took the Portuguese word over as palaver, applying it first to ‘negotiations’ and then by extension to ‘idle chatter.”

    But consider this, from The African-American Kitchen: Cooking from Our Heritage, by Angela Shelf Medearis: ‘My first experience with African food was when a friend from Ghana lived with my family. Having graciously offered to prepare a traditional African dinner, she served us a tomato-based stew called palaver (also known as palava in different regions) which contained small portions of beef and spinach served over rice. It had a wonderful aroma, and we couldn’t wait to try it. She warned us it was hot; we thought it would be like the Mexican dishes we’re accustomed to from living in Texas, and assured her we were used to eating spicy foods. Several glasses of cold water later, we realized we were wrong! It was one of the hottest dishes any of us had ever attempted to eat. I found out later that the word palaver, which originated in West Africa, means ‘trouble.'”

    Love you,

  5. That just makes me want to try this recipe even more!!!

    1. yum yum yum! I made it! its good.


  6. Oh! This stew is very good served with the spicy chick pea pancakes as a sop!


  7. I love the picture you took, Erin.


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