Saturday 19 May 2007

TGRWT #2 - It’s nuts, it’s bananas, it’s stew!

Recently I came across an announcement on Should You Eat That about a newish regular blog event called They Go Really Well Together (TGRWT). It aims to get people pairing unusual flavours that are strangely complementary bedfellows. This month is banana and parsley – you can see the science here. This combination made a lot of sense to me. So I decided it was time for my first blog event.

It not only made sense, but it drove me back to recipes that have been lingering at the back of my mind. I think I might like blog events for giving me a kick-start to stop dreaming and start cooking! This event sparked of thoughts of combining banana with a peanut soup/curry.

When I searched my recipe books I found no less than 3 versions of the recipe I had in mind so didn’t even bother muddying the waters with more recipes from the web. One was the Curried Peanut Soup recipe from Mollie Katzen’s Enchanted Broccoli Forest. I also had two handwritten unsourced recipes for African Peanut Sauce and East African Sweet Pea Soup.

Sometimes I think my cooking style has magpie tendencies when I tend to pick sparking gems from various recipes and create my own thing. My only complaint about cooking this way is the inconvenience of flitting from cookbook to cookbook, and trying not to leave out vital ingredients. It would be nice to be organised and write out the recipe I will make before I do it, but my recipes evolve a bit more organically than that.

In Mollie’s recipe the banana was fried with cinnamon, sesame seeds, lemon and tumeric which I may try with the leftovers. Another recipe had mashed banana in the recipe. But I was inspired by Eat’N Veg’N who had a photo of banana with tacos rice and salsa. I wanted the banana quite plain with the parsley featuring. I wanted peanut butter (mmmm), interesting spices and apricot nectar. E wanted a sauce over rice rather than a soup (and my soups are often like stews anyway). It has occurred to me tahini might be good in this recipe too – maybe next time.

Of course there had to be lots of veggies and colour. I was in Pedimontes this week and fell in love with a purple cauliflower. You might have noticed that I love green – my other colour I love is purple (yep the feminist colours!). Green veggies are easy but purple is harder to find. These caulis were spectacular – even the few spots going a little mouldy were a beautiful bruise of blue so I didn’t mind that so much.

And a quick word on the name. As the actual dominant flavours are nuts and bananas, it occurred to me that these are words used to indicate someone is crazy in popular speech – and some might think the combination of flavours a little crazy anyway. Those of you who are Chaser fans should try and imagine the Super Spruiker saying the title of the blog entry!

This was fantastic. I am not a huge fan of bananas by themselves but I love the way fruit can lift a savoury meal. In this recipes the sweetness of bananas, the freshness of the parsley and the tartness of the lemon were a perfect foil for the rich nuttiness of the stew. E said it was an outstanding meal and ate my leftovers when I was too full to finish. Here is what I did:

Peanut Stew with Banana (a.k.a. Crazy Stew)
(serves 6-8)

1 onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil (or peanut oil if you have it)
¼ tsp each of ground cloves, ground cardamom, cinnamon
1 tsp each of ground cumin, tumeric, grated fresh ginger
½ tsp salt
½ cup peanut butter ('unmolested' as Mollie says)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
½ cup apricot nectar
1½ cups water
1 cup frozen peas
700g pumpkin, peeled and diced
1 (360g) sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 medium zucchini, diced

Banana Parsley Salsa
1 just ripe banana
1 handful of parsley, finely chopped (about ⅓ cup)
Juice of 1 lime
Generous sprinkle of chilli flakes and salt

In a large saucepan, fry onion in oil on low-medium heat about 5 minutes. Add spices and fry an additional 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add remaining ingredients, bring to boil and simmer for approximately 20-30 minutes til pumpkin and sweet potato are soft. You will need to stir occasionally as it tends to stick to the bottom of the pan.

While stew is simmering, prepare salsa by mixing all ingredients.

Serve stew on brown rice and some steamed green vegetables such a broccoli or Brussels sprouts. Top with banana parsley salsa.

On the Stereo:
Hatful of Hollow: The Smiths


  1. Hi, Johanna! Thanks for the link and the nice comment you left on my post. What a great blog you have and I LOVE this post! TGRWT sounds like so much fun. I need to check that out. Your plate trimmed with broccoli and purple cauliflower is spectacular. I know I would love that meal.

    I tend to comingle recipes too. I usually have handy the one I most like, then add sticky notes of my changes to the page. That way I wind up with a pretty good recipe.

    I had fun here!

    - Diann

  2. Johanna,

    This looks delicious! I think I may have to buy my local supermarket out of parsley and bananas in order to try all the wonderful creations I am being sent... and I am still yet to decide what to make for my own entry.

    I have wanted to try the purple cauliflower for a while now, imagine purple tinged cauliflower cheese! yum...

  3. That looks amazingly good! I’m not mad on bananas by themselves either, most of mine end up in smoothies. I’ve never had bananas in a stew…definitely something I would like to try! The purple cauliflower is beautiful. I would love to try it also, but I’ve never seen it in a store anywhere. Is it cooked in the top photo? If it is I am amazed that it’s still such a vibrant colour!

  4. Wow, I have never seen such a vegetable as that cauliflower! I thought it was dyed at first glance, but then I read on!
    I think the idea of adding banana to curry is a good one! I used to turn my nose up when my mum used to add banana and pineapple to her curries, but my tastes have moved on a bit since then!
    Purple cauliflower cheese, can you imagine that, go Tara!

  5. Great recipe.

    God, that cauli looks incredible. A very successful pairing of banana and parsley. Well done!

  6. diann, I like your idea of sticky notes. glad you enjoyed the blog - and I would recommend checking out TGRWT for some intrigue and inspiration.

    Tara, I have really enjoyed the TGRWT idea so thanks for your hosting prowess. I love the idea of purple cauliflower cheese - don't make it often but it is a staple with my mum that I love.

    Scottish vegan - yes it is cooked in the pic - actually when I cut the cauli at first I thought it a bit disappointing but when it cooked it went that fantastic purple colour. Hope you can find one to try as they are so much fun.

    holler - I think my mum might have put pineapple in curries too but I don't think she put banana in. It did go really well with all the spices. Now imagine purple banana on a curry :-)

    Thanks Lucy - I feel like the blogging has been great for inspiring some interesting cooking.


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