A real treat this week: 4 recipes that use peanut butter, each with only 4 ingredients. For a long time now I've argued that peanut butter is the best food. Not just the tastiest nut butter, or most delicious spread: downright the best food. Because peanut butter, besides tasting amazing, is remarkably versatile. From satay noodles and stir fry sauces to chewy cookies and chocolate peanut butter cups, there are few other ingredients that stand up so well in both savoury and sweet dishes.

My theory contrasts with that of my friend Sam. He says pizza is the best food. His argument is that he will love any pizza you can possibly imagine. From the fanciest thin-crust sourdough with imported Italian tomatoes to the doughiest, greasiest, bottom-of-the-freezer corner shop pizza, he loves them all. He also maintains that pizza has the unique benefit of being appropriate at any time of day. Hot, fresh out the pan, date-night 8pm pizza. Drunken carb-load, sober-me-up at 3am pizza. Cold, slightly-stale pizza the following morning. I see his point. But I eat peanut butter at any time of day, anyway. So we agree to disagree.

My love of peanut butter goes back so far that I could create a timeline of my life neatly annotated with my favourite PB snack at that time. As a small child I would finish my boiled eggs quickly so that my Mum would smother the remaining toast with PB. Fast forward a few years and I'd come home from school and make a hot chocolate with a couple of crumpets: one with marmite, one with, you guessed it, peanut butter. At college, my American cousin introduced me to using sliced apples to scoop peanut butter from the jar as a quick, nutritious pick-me-up. Wind forward to when I learned to cook, and I discovered adding a spoonful of PB to certain curries, basing an Asian dressing around it, or blitzing it with medjool dates and ground almonds for a rich tart filling. Note that all these habits have come and gone, but eating PB with a teaspoon before bed will never leave.

Below you'll find 4 recipes that use peanut butter, each with only 4 ingredients: 4 my love of peanut butter. And 4 all the times it's been a simple, comforting spoonful of joy in my life.

4 the love of Peanut Butter


  for the pancakes (makes 4 small)
1 tbspsmooth peanut butter*
½ cuprolled oats
½medium/large ripe banana
1 tspneutral oil
  for the cookies (makes 6)
2 tbspsmooth peanut butter*
6medium/small medjool dates
1medium/small ripe banana
1 scant cuprolled oats
  for the dipping sauce (makes ¼ cup)
2 tbspsmooth peanut butter*
1lime, juice of
1½ tspsoy sauce (use tamari if gluten free)
1small clove garlic, grated
  for the peanut butter cabbage (serves 4 as a side)
2½ tbspsmooth peanut butter*
half a wholechinese/sweetheart cabbage, shredded
2½ tspsoy sauce (use tamari if gluten free)
1-2½ tspsriracha hot sauce (depending on spice preference)


  1. Blitz the oats in a food processor until you have a fine oat flour.
  2. Add the banana, peanut butter and ½ cup water to the food processor. Blitz again until smooth.
  3. Heat the oil in a very non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add ¼ of the batter for one pancake. You may have room to fry two at once in your frying pan. Fry for 1-2 minutes until golden brown, flip over, and fry again for 1 minute.
  4. Transfer the pancakes from the pan to a plate, then cook the other pancakes using the remaining batter.
  5. Top with whatever you fancy. Suggestions: blueberries + brown rice syrup (see photo), strawberries + coconut yogurt, banana + dark chocolate chips.

for the cookies:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175C/350F.
  2. In the small bowl of a food processor, blitz the dates to a paste.
  3. Add the banana and peanut butter and blitz again.
  4. Add the oats and blitz to form a cohesive, sticky but not too sticky, mixture.
  5. Form the mixture into 6 patties and transfer to a lined baking tray.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through. If they look like they're burning after 8 minutes, cover the cookies with aluminium foil.
  7. Cool cookies completely on a wire rack before either eating or storing. They will firm up as they cool.

for the dipping sauce:

  1. Use a fork to whisk all the ingredients with 2 tsp water in a small bowl or ramekin. Use as a dipping sauce for gyoza, fried tofu or raw celery/carrots sticks.

for the peanut butter cabbage:

  1. In a ramekin or small bowl, add the peanut butter, soy sauce and sriracha and mix well with a fork.
  2. Heat a little oil in a wok over a high heat. Add the cabbage and stir fry for 2 minutes.
  3. Scoop the peanut-sriracha mixture on top of the cabbage and stir it in. It may not seem loose enough but the cabbage will release some water which dilutes the sauce.