Collards with sweet, spicy, salty peanuts

Collards and spicy peanuts

Sometimes the recipe picks the song, and sometimes the song picks the recipe. Most of the time, I’ll think of what I’d like to cook (and eat!) and the music will come into my head while I’m making it. Yesterday, as I was wheeling around town, I started thinking about the perfection of the song Salt Peanuts by Dizzy Gillespie. Honestly – have you heard it? It’s killer! The only words in the song are…”Salt peanuts, salt peanuts.” Right now I can’t think of anything better than that!

Then I got to thinking about how I don’t cook with peanuts very often. I cook with all sorts of other nuts. Tree nuts, but not peanuts. We eat peanuts in their shells. Half the household eats peanut butter in their sandwiches every single day. But I don’t cook with peanuts very often.

spicy salty sweet peanuts

To make it about Salt Peanuts, the peanuts would have to be salty. I also wanted them to be a little bit sweet, and a little bit spicy. And then I wanted to eat them with collard greens, because I love greeeeeeeeeeeeeeens!! But I kept the collards simple, because the peanuts were very flavorful. The way I made the peanuts, they got a bit burny-tasting. Blackened, if you will. I really like that flavor. If you don’t, keep a close eye on your peanuts and don’t let the pan get too hot.

Here’s a performance of Salt Peanuts from 1947.

THE COLLARDS

1 large bunch of collards, spiny stems cut out. Cut the collards into about inch-square pieces.
2 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 T balsamic
1 T butter
salt and plenty of pepper

Boil a pot of salted water. Add the collards and cook for about 20 minutes, till they’re quite tender, but not falling apart.

Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir and fry for a few minutes. Add the collards. Cook for a few minutes, till they’re coated with flavor and warmed through. Add a spoonful of cooking water if the pan gets too dry. Add the balsamic and butter, and stir and cook a few minutes. Season well with salt and plenty of pepper.

1 cup peanuts – roasted, unsalted, no skins or shells.
1 T butter
1 T brown sugar
1/2 t. smoked paprika
1/2 t mustard powder
1/4 t cayenne (or to taste)
Salt and plenty of black pepper.

In a large frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter and brown sugar. Just as it starts to bubble, add the peanuts. Stir and cook – this is the part where mine got a bit burned. If you don’t want that to happen keep the heat low and keep stirring. When everything is melted and the peanuts seem quite coated, and the sugar and butter are thick and syrupy – about 10 minutes, take the peanuts off the heat and spread them on a baking tray.

Preheat the oven to 350. Put the tray in the oven, and then turn the oven off. You’re not trying to cook the peanuts, just to dry them out. Give them a stir every now and then, and leave them in for about half an hour. Take them out toss them in a bowl with the spices and salt and pepepr. Put them on a clean baking tray and let them cool. They should get quite crispy.

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