Recipe: West African Spinach with Groundnuts (Peanut Butter)

Serves 4

I’m not sure why this idea seemed so strange to me. West Africans love greens with peanut butter (they call them groundnuts), and I should have never doubted them. The earthy peanuts stand up to the mighty bitter spinach. It balances out nicely with the sweet peppers, but spicy would work wonderfully as well.

If you can pick up the spinach and onions from your farmer’s market, I highly recommend it. The fresh flavors will crunch and zip and smile inside your mouth.


peanut oil (or regular)
3 green onions, sliced
1 lb fresh spinach
1 red bell pepper
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup water
pepper or cayenne


I was just so happy the farmer’s market opened up for business the same day we cooked The Gambia.

Look at these green onions and the healthy, sultry spinach.

That’s right. I said sultry.

Cook the pepper in hot peanut oil (or vegetable oil if you don’t have any)

Add in peanut butter and water. Stir to combine into a smooth sauce.

Next, toss in the sultry spinach.

Cook until softened to desired consistency. Remove from heat and toss with chopped green onions.

Serve hot with a giant spoon. Slurp.

Now, if I could only get Ava to eat dark green spinach again. She used to, when she was a wee 1 year-old.

What happened?

Is this part of the terrible two’s?

Am I a bad mother?

Maybe I should just makeĀ everything with spinach and she’llĀ have no choice.


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  1. Oh my gosh, that sounds and looks AMAZING. I will have to try it out next week after I hit up the farmers market (SO glad its back).

  2. no!!!..dont force her to eat the spinach ( I have horrid memories of being forced to eat things)..but certainly continue to cook it, serve it and eat it yourself, you as the exemplary mommy! She might come around again…our touchy taste buds are ever-changing…yo!
    I was curious if you could cook this with pea-nuts rather than peanut butter? I have had dishes with peanuts in them and I love the little crunchies..let alone the mixture of taste….this receipe is delicious and simple! <3

    • I think you need the peanut butter to make the sauce. Although a few bits of peanuts might be a nice touch. Solution: Just use crunchy peanut butter, maybe?

      • Sasha Martin says:

        Great idea Jenny. You could also crush some over the top, as a garnish. Play around and let us know what works :)

        • You can definitely use crushed peanuts instead of peanut butter – I have used both – I make something like this all the time – with peanuts but minus the red pepper (I use tomato though) – the “red pepper” in a written recipe would have referred to crushed cayenne :) I used to live in The Gambia – and love this dish! You can also use other greens – like kale, collards. But it is not intended to be eaten like a soup – it is eaten with / over rice. I’m sure it’s delicious any which way, but just FYI it is supposed to be with rice. Love your pictures – and this idea!! ;)

  3. hmmm, I have a huge jar of Tahini I bought to make hummus (once) and have been looking for new applications for. I think i’ll try some of it instead of peanut butter and see what happens!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      You are a brave, brave girl. Please let me know if it works. I have a fairly strong aversion to tahini (my mom put it in meatballs and I would often bite into a chunk of it. NOT a pleasant experience). One of the very few things I’m moderately picky about (although I am okay with it in hummus)

  4. Spinach is an unforgiving food – meaning it is hard to digest the iron or something…Offer it when she is older…she’s not old enough and knows it….use Kale or other greens…

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Perhaps, but she also is into what things look like. Green, wet food hasn’t been high on her list lately. xo

  5. I think one of the reasons peanut butter is so good in food here in West Africa, is because our local variety is unsweetened. You can make the dish above with pretty much any type of greens, and here in Niger, the standard variety is leaves, tomatoes, onion(s) and peanut butter. I also love using unsweetened peanut butter as a taste enhancer in curry dishes. Just a teaspoon will go well along with curry, coconut milk, lemon and the rest.
    Love the pictures, Sasha! Your presentation is excellent!!!


  1. […] African Spinach with Groundnuts (Peanut Butter) [Recipe] A nutty take on cooked spinach, typical of West Africa. Sliced red peppers and green onions add […]

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