This morning we have a special guest blogger, that I am so excited about. I would like to introduce Robin Robertson, who has a fabulous new cook book out called Nut Butter Universe, which you guys are going to love! Oh, and don’t forget to add your name in the comment section, as well as to tell us what your favorite nut butter is, since Robin and the generous folks at Vegan Heritage Press are offering a giveaway too (must be a U.S. resident). Take it away Robin!
Nut Butters Around the World
Nut butters were well known millennia before the first public appearance of peanut butter at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. For example, peanuts were known to have been cultivated as early as 950 B.C., and peanut butter has long been a staple for the people of Asia, Africa, and South America. A peanutty cream was made by the Incas, while in China and other Asian countries, creamy peanut sauces have been around for centuries. In Africa, peanuts have been ground for stews since at least the 15th century.
A wide variety of other nut butters have long been used worldwide, including almond butter and sesame butter. Herodotus wrote about the cultivation of sesame seeds 3,500 years ago near the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Tahini and sesame paste have long been important ingredients in Asian and Middle Eastern cooking.
Almonds were among the earliest cultivated foods, probably before 3,000 B.C. In Morocco, almond butter (or “paste”) is used to make pastry fillings and other desserts. Moroccans also combine almond paste with anise, cinnamon, fennel, sesame seeds, and flour to make a nutritious snack called sellou. In Spain, the traditional sauce known as romesco features almond or hazelnut butter.
Whether we use nut butters to make transporting global recipes or to simply slather on a piece of bread, they give us a world of rich flavors to enjoy.
This recipe from my new book, Nut Butter Universe, is for an Indonesian main-dish salad of raw and cooked vegetables tossed with a spicy peanut sauce. Called Gado-Gado, the flavor of this crunchy salad improves with time, so plan on making it a few hours to a day before you need it.
• 1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil or 1/4 cup water
• 2 shallots, chopped
• 1 large clove garlic, chopped
• 1/2 cup peanut butter
• 1 1/2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari
• 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon natural sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
• 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
• 2 cups green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths
• 1 cup small cauliflower florets
• 2 carrots, shredded
• 2 cups shredded cabbage
• 1 cup fresh bean sprouts
• 1/3 cup roasted peanuts
1. Heat the oil or water in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic. Cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the peanut butter, tamari, lemon juice, sugar, cayenne, and coconut milk. Simmer over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring to blend.
2. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor, or use an immersion blender, and puree until smooth, adding water or more coconut milk to thin, if needed.
3. Steam the green beans and cauliflower just until ten- der and place them in a large bowl. Add the carrots and cabbage. Pour the sauce over the vegetables and toss to combine. Sprinkle the bean sprouts and peanuts on top. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
From Nut Butter Universe by Robin Robertson. ©2013 Robin Robertson. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press. Photo by Lori Maffei.