Looking to shake up how you get your daily serving of peanuts and peanut butter? Then you’re in luck — because throughout the years, peanut lovers around the world have been finding ways to incorporate this nutritious, protein-packed ingredient into some truly amazing (and delicious) recipes.
Plus, when you combine the power of peanuts with other foods that are great for your health, like dark leafy greens and whole grains, it can actually enhance their overall benefits!1 It happens by way of something called “food synergy.”
This basically means the healthier you eat, the more exponential the benefits become! (Curious how peanuts can power-up other healthy diets? Check out our blogs on the MIND diet and the Mediterranean diet)
But enough with the appetizers, let’s move on to the main course!
Peanuts have been a regular part of Chinese dishes going back to when they were first introduced to the country by Portuguese traders in the 17th century. By 2016, China topped the list of global peanut producers in the world with a yield of over 16 million tons! (Our educated guess? They’re pretty big fans.)
Since then, peanuts have become a familiar sight in street stands (offering boiled peanuts) and homes (often put out in dishes for guests, alongside other popular snacks like melon seeds).
But the most popular peanut product in China? Peanut oil, which chefs love for its high smoke point, and because it doesn’t absorb odors and flavors from frying. This keeps your dish’s flavors pure, even when frying different items at the same time.
Kung Pao Chicken
This brings us to our first dish: Kung Pao Chicken. Originating in the Sichuan province of China, it’s also become a staple of westernized Chinese cuisine.
This delicious recipe comes from our friends at Woks of Life, a family of chefs who combine traditional restaurant experience with a passion for unique flavors. Here’s what they have to say about it:
“Kung Pao Chicken is probably the most well-known dish in Chinese cooking that prominently features peanuts. Packed with lots of lean chicken, chilies, and of course, crunchy peanuts, this dish is a delightful mix of textures and flavors.”
Find this recipe (and more from Woks of Life) here.
Like China, it’s believed that peanuts were introduced to India through trade — likely from South American explorers in the first half of the 16th century. And also like China, it didn’t take long for this nutritious, exotic ingredient to catch on in cooking, finding a home in one of the dishes the country originated.
Spicy Peanut Chickpea Curry
Inspired by those flavors, our friend Carmy (a self-described “healthy-ish living” blogger) created a dish that uses peanut butter for a perfect blend of sweet and heat that’s as delicious as it is budget-friendly.
But what led her to using peanut butter?
“The peanut butter gives such a smooth creamy texture to the curry that it just coats your mouth when you take a spoonful … [T]his spicy peanut chickpea curry warms you inside out!”
Find this recipe (and more from Carmy) here.
Rounding out our list of international cuisines is Nigeria, which is ranked 3rd worldwide for peanut production, and is the largest producer in Africa.
African Peanut Soup
Peanut butter is used in a variety of African dishes, including peanut sauce (prepared with onions, garlic, peanut butter and vegetables like carrots, cabbage and cauliflower) and Nigeria’s “African Salad.”
But one of our personal favorites is the African Peanut Soup.
This rich soup uses creamy peanut butter, vegetables and a rich variety of spices that makes for a perfect way to warm up while shaking up your normal dinner routine. And the best part? It can be served as a main course or as a starter, so you have plenty of flexibility.