5 Chefs Who are Doing New Things with Peanuts

The creativity of a chef is nearly boundless. At the National Peanut Board, we recently worked with several chefs and restaurants who have used peanut ingredients in completely unique ways—from using peanut shells to infuse smoke into peanut butter to coating peanuts in Middle Eastern spices as a crunchy topping, these ideas showcase that there’s a wealth of opportunity for creativity with peanuts.

Chef Lee Gregory

Chef Lee Gregory of Alewife has been a peanut aficionado for a long time. The James Beard award semifinalist is back with his own new seafood-centric shop in Richmond, VA. For his Roasted Chicken Pave with Roasted Squash and Peanut Dukkah the classically versatile Middle Eastern spice blend enhances the savory flavors of the pave, a layered chicken dish that’s melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

Chef Lee’s Peanut Curry with Sweet Potato, Mississippi Rice and Black Bass takes a traditional African peanut sweet potato stew and adds local rice and fish for an umami-filled, satisfying fall meal.

Roasted Chicken Pave with Roasted Squash and Peanut Dukkah/Christopher Reisch

Chef Rob Connoley

Chef Rob Connoley takes foraging and historically based cooking to a new level. At Bulrush in St. Louis, Missouri, the James Beard award semifinalist creates dishes rooted in traditional Ozark cuisine using foraged ingredients and wild game and unique preservation techniques like drying, pickling and curing.

A fascinating dish Chef Rob prepared centers around a lidded cast icon acorn. Upon removing the lid, smoke from black walnut wafts up to the diner. Peering inside the acorn, a savory doughnut is in the center surrounded by a white chocolate and potato cream, giving the illusion of a freshly cracked egg. It’s topped with Napa cabbage, peanut praline and black walnut pickled leaves.


Acorn doughnut

Chef Corey Duncan

Setting up and preparing a peanut-inspired lunch for 25 next to a peanut field can be challenging, but catering Chef Corey Duncan always rises to the occasion. Chef Corey served a meal that included an interesting Southern Grit Frittata with Green Peanut Oil and Smoked Okra and a take on a Southern take on bread pudding: Cornbread Pudding with Whiskey Cream and Peanut Brittle. 

Cornbread Pudding with Whiskey Cream and Peanut Brittle/Christopher Reisch

Velma Johnson (aka Mama J)

Velma Johnson is the inspiration behind the James Beard award-nominated Mama J’s in Richmond, Virginia. One of 14 children, Johnson’s cooking lessons started early in childhood. Taking inspiration from the King of Rock n Roll’s favorite sandwich, Mama J created a peanut butter and banana cake that has all the making of an instant classic.


Peanut Butter and Banana Cake

Chef Giovanni Novella

Chef Giovanni Novella of Bar Corralini in Madison, Wisc. crafted a Peanut Butter & Jelly Gelato with Zeppole for a tasting event at the recent International Foodservice Editorial Council conference. The Italian chef used peanut shells to infuse smoke into the peanut butter for the gelato. The frozen dessert was topped off with a finger-sized Italian doughnut called a zeppole dusted with powdered sugar and garnished with honey roasted peanuts and mint. Adding another layer of fun to the dessert, diners could squeeze a pipette of strawberry and ginger jelly into the zeppole or drizzle on top.

Header image: PB&J Gelato from Chef Giovanni Novella. Credit to IFEC/Buzz Orr

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