What: The West African peanut stew
Where: Salt Flats, 68718 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Suite 101, Cathedral City
How much: $24; $29 with chicken (as shown)
Contact: 442-342-4022; www.saltflatsfood.com
Why: Where else would you find this dish?
The menu at Salt Flats—a newish Cathedral City restaurant that friends have been raving to me about—is not very big. But it sure is interesting.
Some examples: There’s an appetizer called Salt Flat sticks, “seasoned with a sumac blend.” A roast chicken Belgian endive salad with Medjool dates. A vegan West African peanut stew as an entrée … and a blueberry and blackberry cardamom pavlova for dessert? Sign me up!
On our recent dinner visit, I wasn’t able to try all of this fascinating fare, but there was no way I was not going to try the West African peanut stew, even if the menu description somewhat underplays this dish, saying it is “with harissa, dandelion greens and sweet potato, served with grains.” I mean, where else in this valley would a curious diner find anything like this?
I am pleased to report that not only is this West African peanut stew interesting; it’s delicious. While the dish is vegan, I ordered it with chicken added, thanks to advice given to me by one of the managers when he learned I was an omnivore. To be honest, I am not sure the chicken added much, because everything surrounding it was packed with tastiness.
The harissa (a puree of peppers, olive oil, garlic and seasonings) drove the flavor, which was complemented by the earthiness of the peanuts and the subtle sweetness of the potatoes. The “grains”—rice and quinoa, in this case—added some welcome textural variety. The next time I order this, I may ask for more peanuts to be added, and I might request some bread, if possible, to dip into this amazing stew.
One thing certain: There will be a next time I order this.