The peanut is a healthy and versatile ingredient that lends itself to a wide variety of uses, from dessert and candy making to ethnic cuisines. The peanut is not a true nut, but is instead a kind of legume that grows underground. The peanut originated in South America, and Europeans first found it in Brazil.

Peanuts were popularized in the United States during the Civil War. Roasted peanuts were later introduced to circus and baseball spectators in the late 1800s, making their popularity grow throughout the country.

In the early 1900s, agricultural processes were developed that made the peanut much easier to harvest and remove shells and stems from the finished product. Peanut butter sandwiches became a common lunch item in the 1940s.

The peanut is a well-loved ingredient around the world, especially in the United States and Southeast Asia. In the United States, peanut butter is the most common preparation; it was first mass produced in the early twentieth century. Peanut butter is commonly spread on bread for sandwiches, and it can easily be mixed into many recipes, adding protein, vitamins, and healthy fats.

In Malaysia and Indonesia, peanuts are made into a spicy satay sauce for dipping grilled skewers of meat. In China, peanuts are mixed into dishes like Kung Pao Chicken. In Vietnam and Thailand, the peanut provides a crunchy topping to some of the most popular dishes like Pad Thai. In Africa, peanuts are used in savory soups and stews, sometimes substituting for the similar ground nut.

Dessert preparations with peanuts and peanut butter are limitless. Peanut brittle is a traditional candy that originated in the American South. Combining a crunchy sugar base with crunchy peanuts, this has been a special treat since the 19th century. Creamy peanut butter makes delicious cookies, cakes, and sauces, and is especially popular when combined with chocolate.

The richness of peanuts lends itself well to savory and sweet applications. The crunch of whole and chopped peanuts adds texture to food. These recipes show the variety of uses for peanuts and peanut butter in creating exciting taste experiences.

African Peanut Stew

This recipe showcases the savory side of the peanut. This version is made with chunky peanut butter, which both thickens the stew and gives a little bit of crunchy texture. Sauté onions, garlic, and ginger together; add chicken and cook until done. Then add stock, peanut butter, and kale or collard greens and simmer.

Indonesian Chicken Skewers with Peanut Sauce

Satay sauce is popular throughout Southeast Asia, with popular versions coming from Indonesia and Malaysia. This recipe combines grilled chicken with a rich sauce made from peanut butter. This recipe is not spicy, but many variations are available with a hotter sauce. First grill the chicken on skewers. Then combine peanut butter, water, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, and salt over high heat. Add lime juice. Finally, dip the skewers in the sauce to serve.

Kung Pao Chicken

This chicken stir-fry combines the unique tingle of Sichuan peppercorns with hot and spicy red chilis and crunchy sautéed peanuts. First marinate the chicken in soy sauce, rice wine, and cornstarch. Stir the ingredients of the sauce in another bowl, using a combination of black vinegar, hoisin sauce, and sesame oil, among other ingredients. Cook the chicken in a hot wok and add the sauce and peanuts. Finally, serve over rice.

Peanut Butter Pie

This no-bake recipe takes advantage of the classic pairing of peanut butter and chocolate. First, make a crust with crushed chocolate sandwich cookies and butter. Make a peanut butter filling using powdered sugar, peanut butter, butter, and vanilla. Then place a layer of the filling in the crust. Finally, make a chocolate ganache for the topping and refrigerate.

Peanut Brittle

This peanut brittle recipe requires some candy making skill. Over medium heat, boil corn syrup, sugar, water, and salt until dissolved. Then add peanuts and cook to the hard and brittle thread stage, about 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Add butter and pour the brittle onto a cookie sheet to cool. Finally, break the brittle into small pieces to serve. Whether you use peanuts or peanut butter, you can create an exciting recipe. Use some of our suggestions to make a tasty peanut dish, or create something new. Either way, peanuts will enhance your recipe and please your family.

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