Aquavit’s Marcus Samuelsson has a new cookbook coming out this October, called the The New American Table. After a flip-through, it looks like the recipes are more home-cook-friendly than those in his last book, The Soul of a New Cuisine. That’s the book we’re cooking from today–a fat, beautiful tome detailing Samuelsson’s travels through Africa and the recipes and techniques picked up along the way.
One of the simplest recipes in The Soul of a New Cuisine is also one of the most delicious-sounding. Malata, a dish that Samuelsson explains is from coastal Mozambique, is a stew of peanuts, butternut squash, clams and spinach. It’s a flavor combination I couldn’t have thought of myself, but which immediately seemed like a good idea.
I followed the recipe as written, except that I used collard greens instead of spinach, wanting a green with extra oomph. Samuelsson writes that the spinach is actually a substitution for pumpkin leaves, so I’d say you could use whatever green you like. Chard would probably be great. Don’t forget to wait until the end to salt this dish, because sometimes clams can give off an extremely salty liqueur.
Yield: 4 Servings
Recipe from The Soul of a New Cuisine. If you choose to use a different, more assertive green, keep in mind you’ll need to simmer it in the broth longer, to tenderize it.
1/3 cup peanut oil
1 cup peanuts
1 pound butternut squash, seeded and cut into 1-inch dice
1 medium Spanish onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 bird’s eye chiles, seeded and chopped
1 (3-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced
4 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
1/2 cup bottled clam juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups spinach
2 limes, quartered
In a large saute pan over high heat, warm the oil until it shimmers. Add the peanuts, butternut squash, onion, and garlic, and saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chiles and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Add the clams, clam juice, white wine, thyme and salt, cover, and cook until the clams open, about 10 minutes. As the clams open, transfer them to a large bowl. Discard any unopened clams.
Add the spinach to the saute pan, cover, and cook until the spinach has wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the clams to the pan, and warm through.
Divide the malata among four warmed serving bowls, and serve with lime wedges.