I Love Peanut Sauces

When I say “Peanut Sauce,” do you think, Thai? Or something sweet, like Peanut Butter Caramel? Well, there are peanuts ground into sauces in many cuisines of the world. Like this African Style Peanut Sauce. A little spicy, with juicy tomatoes and sweetly sauteed onions and garlic, this one makes a pan of crispy purple sweet potato fries into a meal. Adults and kids alike love peanut butter, and will love this sauce, which can be made ahead and kept in the fridge for snacks or meals.

Watch the video, and you’ll see my fun new Caraway Nonstick Pans in action!

The Peanut Journey

We have to give it up for the peanut. The legume that grows underground, but we love to roast and eat like a nut has traveled the world. We’ve all heard the story of the invention of peanut butter, by Geroge Washington Carver, who is a hero. But Peanuts actually originated in South America, and were transported around the world by the Spanish. Because the peanut plant flourishes in hot climates, and is a nitrogen-fixing crop that can be planted in rotation with other crops, peanuts spread throughout the warmer parts of the world.

That journey took the peanut to Africa, where it was embraced and added to soups, stews and sauces like this one. It then accompanied African slaves back to the Americas, and peanuts were considered poverty food. That’s when George Washington Carver saw their potential to help the farming economy of the South, and to be made into affordable, high protein foods. And so, peanut butter was born.

These days, there’s a jar of peanut butter in every kitchen in America, unless someone has an allergy to it. But really, all those stops on the peanut’s journey resulted in dishes made with ground peanuts, so you could say that homemade peanut butter had been happening for a long time. But putting it in jars, to share with the world, that was a stroke of genius.

Purple Sweet Potatoes Bring the Purple

I’ve written about Stokes Purple Sweet Potatoes many times, and made them into Purple Sweet Potato Pie and Purple Sweet Potato Gnocchi. They have the amazing purple color bestowed by the same antioxidant chemicals that make blueberries so beneficial. But they best part is how beautiful they look, paired with other food. Of course, you can make this recipe with other varieties of sweet potato, if you can’t find the purple ones.

If you’ve tried Thai Peanut Sauce, or a Mole with peanuts, or a Chinese Sesame Sauce with Peanuts, you need to try this African Peanut Sauce. It’s a perfect prep-ahead for a protein and veggie-rich snack or meal.

African Peanut Sauce with Sweet Potato Fries

Servings 4
Author Robin Asbell


  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 large jalapenos seeded and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped fresh tomato
  • 1/2 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Sweet Potato Fries

  • 1 pound Stokes Purple or other sweet potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon arrowroot
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil


  • In a medium saute pan, heat the oil over medium high heat, and add the onions. Stir until the onions start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the jalapenos, garlic and ginger and stir for about 5 minutes more, until the jalapenos are softened. Add the paprika, corander, and pepper.Stir for a minute, just until the spices are fragrant. Stir in the tomato and bring to a simmer.
  • Transfer the onion mixture to the blender. Add the peanuts and salt and secure the lid. Blend until finely minced, then scrape down and blend for a few seconds more, just until coarsely pureed.
  • Scrape the sauce out into a bowl and serve with sweet potato fries

Sweet Potato Fries

  • Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  • First, cut each sweet potato into 1/4-1/3 inch wide strips- slice off a thin piece on one side of each tuber so it can have a stable base, then us your knife to cut away each side to make a rectangular block, then turn the potato to cut away the last side. Slice into 1/4-1/3 inch slabs, then lay them on their sides in small stacks and slice into 1/4 -1/3 inch strips. Place all the pieces in a large bowl and sprinkle with arrowroot, salt and paprika. Toss and rub until coated.
  • Spread the fries on the sheet pan and drizzle with the oil, then toss to coat. Spread out so the fries are all lying on the pan and not touching.
    Bake for 15 minutes, then take out and use a metal spatula to turn the fries a section at a time. Return to the oven and bake for 13-15 minutes, until browned and crisp.
    Transfer to a serving platter, serve immediately.