I recently spent an afternoon cooking with some Congolese friends Florimond and Gisele, and their Congolese Romaine Lettuce Stew with Peanut Sauce blew me away. When I took the first bite, I almost got tears in my eyes because I was so overwhelmed by the fantastic flavor.
I had never heard of stewing romaine lettuce before. They explained to me that while spinach and other dark greens are often used in DR Congo, romaine lettuce is imported as a delicacy, and is revered for the delicate flavor and texture.
The recipe calls for cherry tomatoes, but you can substitute large tomatoes.
congolese romaine lettuce stew with peanut sauce
3 heads of romaine lettuce
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 of a head of celery (several stalks)
2 garlic cloves
1 bunch of scallions
10 cherry tomatoes (or 2 large tomatoes)
1 can of tomato paste
3/4 cup to 1 cup of natural peanut butter
garlic salt to taste
Wash the romaine lettuce leaves. Slice the leaves cross-wise, then wash them again. Place the lettuce in a large pot with 3-4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Continue simmering for about 20 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the rest of the vegetables. Slice the onion. Mince the garlic cloves. Chop the celery. Slice the scallions in 1/2-inch pieces. Chop the cherry tomatoes.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet. When hot, add the onions, garlic, celery, scallions, and cherry tomatoes. Let it sit a few minutes before stirring. Then stir, and add the can of tomato paste.
Add the peanut butter and stir again. The peanut butter is stiff, so you will need to stir with some pressure.
Add 1-can of water, using the tomato paste can to measure. Cook a few minutes in the skillet, then add the sauce to the lettuce. Stir, add a few shakes of garlic salt. Don’t cover the pot, so that the lettuce will keep its color.
Let it simmer about another 30 minutes. Taste for salt at the end. Serve with rice or fufu.