EAT FOR PEANUTS
Peanuts have been enjoyed by humans for at least 3,500 years. They were brought to North America in the 1700s, according to the National Peanut Board, and have been common in savory and sweet dishes since the turn of the last century. But despite being high in nutrition and low in cost, peanuts are not often the star of a meal. Home cooks don't need an excuse to try these recipes, from appetizers to main dishes to desserts, but National Peanut Day, on Sept. 13, does put peanuts in the spotlight.
PEANUT SAUCE NOODLES
Turning peanuts into a sauce is common across Latin American and Asian cultures. The natural richness and fat content of peanuts creates a silky and substantial texture to coat anything from spaghetti and udon to spiralized zucchini or daikon noodles. A recipe from vegetarian recipe site Veggie Belly uses a handful of ingredients, including peanut butter, soy sauce, lime, garlic, and chili flakes, for a sauce that is as inexpensive as it is quick, tasty, and wholesome.
PEANUT ICE CREAM SANDWICHES
This peanut lover's dessert combines soft ice cream, chewy peanut butter cookies, and crunchy roasted peanuts for a flavor and texture combination that's hard to beat. Vanilla ice cream is a natural choice to sandwich between peanut butter cookies, but peanut, chocolate, or coffee ice cream also work well. This recipe from Taste of Home (originally published by the magazine Country) suggests using melted chocolate as a barrier between cookie and ice cream, but using a layer of peanut butter instead adds even more peanut taste.
KUNG PAO BROCCOLI
This healthy and inexpensive dish is a breeze to make. Simply sauté precooked broccoli florets with onions and red bell peppers in a bit of oil, soy sauce, and minced garlic. Once coated, add chili flakes and peanuts and sauté for another minute. Serve over rice or noodles.
WEST AFRICAN PEANUT SOUP
A West African-inspired soup from Food.com is spicy, creamy, and nutritious. The base is sweet potatoes and peanut butter, two of the lowest-cost sources of healthy vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids, making this a healthy and hearty meal. The rest of the recipe calls for a handful of vegetables, such as carrot and onion, and spices including cayenne and ginger, which keep costs and calories low. Because of the high protein and low-to-no-carb profile, this is a good weeknight meal for those toning their bodies and building muscle.
ANTS ON A LOG
Celery never tastes as good as it does when filled with peanut butter. For this classic after-school snack, load creamy or chunky peanut butter into celery boats and top with raisins for a sweet, salty, and crunchy nosh that packs a wallop of protein into each bite. Adding a sprinkle of cinnamon or even a pinch of salt can help bring out the flavors even more.
CHICKEN PEANUT CURRY
Recipes featuring peanuts save money by carrying so much flavor and texture in themselves that they require little support from herbs and spices to bring a dish together. A chicken peanut curry recipe posted at Simply Recipes is a good example. It combines aromatics such as ginger, chilies, cilantro, mint, lime juice, and chicken broth to make a flavorful sauce for chicken breasts, legs, or thighs.
PEANUT BANANA SMOOTHIE
This easy morning smoothie provides a hefty dose of peanut flavor and all-around nutrition in a sippable package. A recipe from the blog Gimme Some Oven relies on ice for a frosty consistency. But for an extra thick and milkshake-like smoothie, use a frozen banana and ditch the ice completely. Chocoholics can add 1 to 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder for extra decadence.
PEANUT ENERGY BITES
For those who depend on on-the-go nutrition to get them through a busy schedule, these peanut-butter-based snacks are a tasty option. A recipe posted on Allrecipes combines oats, chocolate or raisins, flax, honey, and vanilla with peanut butter for a boost of delicious and satisfying energy. Keep a few of these on hand as an alternative to those ubiquitous protein bars and help reduce impulse spending on expensive ready-made foods.
CHILI ROASTED PEANUTS
Roasting peanuts at home is a simple way to create a tasty appetizerfor parties or on-the-go snacking while avoiding the markups and staleness sometimes found with store-bought flavored peanuts. Add spices such as chili, garlic, and salt to create a custom blend of flavored roasted peanuts, which also serve as inexpensive gifts for birthdays or holidays when presented in decorative jars.
This classic sandwich is a taste of childhood nostalgia for many. Creamy, sweet, and a touch salty, it combines peanut butter (chunky or smooth) with marshmallow fluff between two slices of sandwich bread to make a gooey treat. Enjoy with a cup of milk to indulge in the simple pleasures of life.
Peanuts are a common ingredient in salsas, lending body and flavor to the final sauce. A mixture of roasted peanuts and chile de árbol concocted by Saveur yields a smooth and spicy sauce that works well on chicken and vegetables. It couldn't be easier to prepare and requires just one pan and a blender.
Peanut brittle from a candy shop or gourmet store can cost three times as much as homemade, so if you're a fan of this classic American sweet, it's a good idea to learn how to make it. It's easy -- at least according to the Allrecipes community -- and uses humble, staple ingredients such as sugar and butter. Get creative and try adding other nuts and seeds, such as sesame and cashew.
This spicy and savory Indian dish combines peanuts, vegetables, and spices into a dish that works as appetizer or midday snack. A few ingredients require an unusually well-stocked spice pantry or a trip to an Indian specialty store where it's possible to find mango powder (amchoor) and roasted cumin seed powder (bhuna jeera). A recipe from Manjula's Kitchen works without them, but each contributes a strong and particular flavor that merits an effort to find these inexpensive and aromatic additions.
PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES
Anyone who already has basic baking ingredients on hand can whip up a large batch of these comforting cookies up for just a few dollars. A version posted on the blog Simply Recipes combines baking soda, powder, flour, eggs, butter, peanut butter, and sugar to yield a soft and flavorful classic cookie.
PEANUT BUTTER PIE
This dense and filling pie is a peanut butter lover's dream. With only seven ingredients in a recipe from Epicurious, it's a low-cost and minimal-effort pie that easily serves 12, thanks to the rich combination of peanut butter, cream, and cream cheese. Somewhat addictive, it hits the spot on special occasions as an alternative to pricey cakes.