Sweet Potato Black Bean Stew with Sweet Peppers and Peanut Sauce

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January 29, 2020

This can be a one-dish meal, especially if you use a generous amount of black beans and top with some peanuts. It’s from Molly Katzen’s newest cookbook, The Heart of the Plate. You might recognize her name from Moosewood Cookbook, published in 1977. She was vegetarian way before it was as popular as it is today. I just took a walk down memory lane and browsed through my old food-stained copy of that book. Her recipes in this hardcover new book are more interesting, as evidenced by this peanut flavored sweet potato stew. The color pictures are enticing, as well.

The peanut sauce is very quick to prepare, and can be used on any other stir fry dish. I didn’t take the time to make the banana-cheese empanadas that were meant to accompany this stew, but made a 2-minute version of them by top broiling banana, pepper Jack cheese and a squirt of lime on thin bread in the toaster oven — not bad!! She gives much more direction about preparation than I’m including here. Some other dishes I plan to try are: Roasted Eggplant Salad with Coconut-Lime Vinaigrette, Golden Lentils with Soft Sweet Onions, and Brussel Sprouts with Cranberries. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m addicted to looking at recipes.


For the stew:
2 Tbsp olive or roasted peanut oil, or a combination
2 cups minced red onion
2 Tbsp finely minced fresh ginger 
1 1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
2 tsp minced or crushed garlic
2 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1/2 cup water
1 large sweet red bell pepper, in 1/4 inch dice (2 cups)
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice, or more to taste
3 cups cooked black beans or two 15-oz cans, rinsed and drained

For peanut sauce:
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar or unseasoned rice vinegar
1 1/2 tsp agave nectar or light-colored honey
Crushed red pepper (optional)

Optional extras:
Roasted peanuts, lime wedges, chopped cilantro leaves


  1. Heat a soup pot over medium heat for about a minute; add the oil and swirl to coat the pan.
  2. Add the onion, ginger and 1/2 tsp of the salt. Cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add 1 tsp of the garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes longer, or until the onion becomes translucent.
  4. Stir in the sweet potatoes, plus the remaining 1 tsp of garlic and another 1/2 tsp of salt. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add 1/2 cup water, cover again, and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are almost done. Stir every 10 minutes or so.
  6. Add the bell pepper and lime juice, stir, and cover to cook for 5 minutes or so until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender. Add more water or lime juice if the vegetables are sticking to the bottom.
  7. Gently stir in the beans during the last few minutes of cooking.
  8. Put the peanut butter in a medium bowl and slowly stir in the boiling water, then the vinegar, sweetener and remaining 1/4 tsp of salt.
  9. Use a rubber spatula to scrape all the sauce into the stew, then stir gently. Adjust to taste with salt, lime or possibly crushed red pepper.