Moosewood Peanut Sauce

>> Thursday, July 14, 2011

I love cookbooks. But I hate cookbooks. See, the trouble I have with cookbooks is that I usually don't have all the ingredients needed for recipes I want to make. Typically, we eat simply -- so we don't stock our refrigerator shelves and cupboards with exotics. Or forget exotics, we just don't stock them fully enough to have a huge variety of ingredients at our disposal.

Frugal living at its more frustrating, but I digress.

What I've learned is that with some creative substitution, many of these cookbook recipes turn out edible. Tasty, even. So, when we found this African-take-on-peanut-sauce recipe in the Sundays at Moosewood Cookbook, I didn't fret when we didn't have the following:

Cayenne (ground)
Ginger (ground)
Peanut Oil
Tomato Juice
Apricot/Apple Juice

Instead, I looked at these ingredients individually for what each would contribute to the dish.

Cayenne (ground) -- for spice
Ginger (ground) -- for flavor
Peanut Oil -- for flavor
Tomato Juice -- liquid and tang
Apricot/Apple Juice -- liquid and sweetness

And then I looked around our kitchen and found substitutions. Keeping the measurements similar/the same, if possible. First, I'll give you all the recipe.

What you'll need . . .
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil leaves
  • 1/2 ripe banana, mashed well
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 generous tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter

Method . . .
  1. Put the chili oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add in the onions. Cook until glassy and tender.
  2. Add the mashed banana and basil leaves. Cook for two minutes, until browned.
  3. Whisk the water with the ketchup, maple syrup, and lemon juice. Add it to the pan and cook for a couple minutes.
  4. Then turn off the heat and stir in the peanut butter. Mix until well incorporated.
  5. Store peanut sauce for up to one week in your refrigerator. Or serve hot/cold with fried tofu. Or banana naan. Or veggies. ANYTHING, really.

Now, for your reference, here's what I substituted and why. It may not be the same as the original, but it tasted amazing. Well worth the challenge.
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili oil -- flavor and spice (cayenne and peanut oil sub. -- PB adds enough peanut flavor already)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil leaves -- flavor (added for fun)
  • 1/2 ripe banana, mashed well
  • 3/4 cup water -- liquid (equal amount to original juice measurements)
  • 1 generous tablespoon ketchup -- tang (mix with water -- above -- for tomato juice sub.)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup -- sweetness (mix with water -- above -- for apricot/apple juice sub.)
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice -- flavor (ginger sub.)
How do you deal with cookbook recipes that require more than you have? Do you avoid them or get creative? We'd love to know! Just leave a comment or email us at neverhomemaker [at] gmail [dot] com.

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