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Woodstock-Inspired African Peanut Bowl

Squash Bowl
Woodstock-Inspired African Peanut Bowl

This recipe and photography was provided courtesy of local cookbook author and chef, Carla Snyder. Learn more about Carla and discover her recipes at or in her cookbook, One Pan Whole Family. 

Fifty years ago, one weekend shaped the image of an inspiring moment of the counterculture community. The “peace and music” festival at Woodstock served not only as a musical extravaganza, but also as a preview of youthful freethinking, simplicity and a return to nature. You could say that the communal nature of Woodstock and the 60’s led to trends of healthier eating such as an emphasis on whole grains and home-grown vegetables, not to mention some of the best music ever performed. I’m not sure what they ate over the course of that rainy, muddy weekend, but I bet every one of those hippies would have said yes to a hot bowl meal.

For most cuisines of the world, bowls are the primary vessel for eating. When you think about it, a bowl is homey, warm and nice to hold. You can layer all sorts of flavors and textures in a bowl that add up to being a complete meal. Bowl meals became popular in the U.S. back in the 60’s when counterculture groups passed out free meals on the street. “Good hot stew, ripe tomatoes, fresh fruit. Bring a bowl and spoon to the panhandle at Ashbury Street…It’s free because it’s yours,” read flyers passed out in 1966. A bowl was a bohemian standard, and bowl food was the meal of the revolution.

Bowl Benefits

Fast forward to today and there is yet another resurgence of bowl meals, but this time it is due to a desire for more health-based meals. I love the simplicity and variety of foods that can make up a bowl meal — lots of chewy grains, fresh vegetables, herbs and spices make for healthy eating that is also easy and fast. Bowl meals are a great way to feed the family or even to serve guests when entertaining. This is a riff on African peanut soup — it features sweet potatoes, curry, coconut milk, ground turkey, lime and peanut butter all stewed together and served over brown rice. I know, it sounds crazy, but it will rock your world.

Peanut butter sounds like a strange ingredient to base a bowl meal on, but believe me, it works! This mouthwatering bowl tastes nothing like a PB& J, rather the blend of curry, sweet potato and fresh ginger gives it a uniquely complex flavor that will make you and your family so very happy.

It’s that easy: Use the edge of a spoon to peel ginger root. It scrapes away the tough outer skin, leaving the juicy flesh exposed and easy to chop.

African Peanut Bowl

African Peanut Bowl

Start to finish: 40 minutes
Hands on time: 30 minutes
Serves 6


  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 thumb sized knob fresh ginger
  • 2 small sweet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake
  • 1-lb ground turkey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • One 15-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, about 1 large juicy lime
  • Two 10-oz bags frozen brown rice, warmed according to package directions
  • Chopped cilantro, lime wedges and peanuts as garnish


  1. On a large cutting board, dice the onion, mince the garlic, peel and mince the ginger and peel and cube the potatoes into small pieces (so they cook fast).
  2. Heat the oil in a 12-in skillet over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the onion, garlic and ginger and sautée for 1 minute. Stir in the curry, pepper flake and cook another minute before adding the ground turkey, salt and a few grinds of pepper, breaking it up and stirring until no longer pink (takes about 2 minutes).
  3. Stir in the potato, broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the coconut milk, peanut butter, brown sugar and lime juice and cook 5 minutes uncovered or until the liquid has reduced, potatoes are tender and sauce is thickened. Taste for seasoning while adding more salt, pepper or lime juice if it needs it.
  5. Serve in warmed bowls over brown rice and garnish with cilantro, lime and peanuts.

Extra Hungry Kids: Add a rinsed can of garbanzo beans to the stew along with the potatoes.

In the glass: Sauvignon Blanc for the adults and lemonade for the kids.

African Peanut Bowl

Can you spot the difference between this photo and the earlier one?

Click Here to Print the Recipe for African Peanut Bowl

Carla Snyder in her kitchen
By Carla Snyder
Carla has spent the past 30 years in the food world as a caterer, artisan baker, cooking school teacher, food writer and author of 6 cook books including the James Beard nominated Big Book of Appetizers. Her passion is sharing fresh, cooked-from-scratch weeknight meals that cut prep time and practically eliminate that nightly sink full of dishes.

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