Latin name: Arachis hypogaea
Other names: groundnut, goober, pindar, monkey nut
Uses: nuts, butter, oil, flour 

If you’re an American, chances are you grew up eating peanut butter sandwiches. In fact, considering peanuts are an American crop, peanut butter is even more American than apple pie. (Apples are from Kazakhstan.) Peanuts aren’t technically a real nut — they’re a legume, in the same family as other beans — but they taste like one and have a similar nutritional profile.

Why is peanut healthy?

A rich source of healthy fats, protein (25 percent by weight), and fiber, peanuts also contain several minerals and vitamins, especially Bs and E. They are also an excellent source of resveratrol. Red wine drinkers may recognize this polyphenolic antioxidant, which has been found to have a protective function against cancers, heart disease, degenerative nerve disease, Alzheimer's disease, and some infections.

What does peanut taste like?

Peanuts have a mildly sweet, earthy-nutty flavor; raw peanuts are creamy, whereas roasted peanuts have a wonderfully meaty, spicy-burnt toastiness almost like popcorn. (Maybe this is why popcorn and peanuts go so well together.) The papery skins on Spanish peanuts offer a pleasant, slightly bitter foil against its oily, rich crunch.

Where does peanut grow?

Peanuts are native to South America and spread to Europe, Asia, and Africa via the Spanish. Today, China produces the bulk of the world’s crop. In the United States, most peanuts are grown in the Southeast and Southwest. Because they fix nitrogen from the air into the soil, peanuts are a great crop for rotating.

How do I prepare peanut and what do I pair it with? 

Peanuts love coconut milk and heavy doses of chile. They’re great a great pairing with bright citrus (try a PB and marmalade sometime and thank us later), and there’s no more iconic duo than peanut butter and chocolate.

Peanut oil is a favored cooking oil in China because it’s an ideal frying oil; its high smoke point means it can handle the high heat of a wok without scorching. Peanuts are ubiquitous in Thai cuisine; chopped peanuts are a necessary addition to a plate of pad Thai. You can also sprinkle them on salads with citrus supremes and torn Thai basil. Add crushed peanuts to spicy sambals for dipping satay and grilled veggies. Peanuts also abound in the cuisines of Western Africa. Though traditional peanut soups and stews are often meat-focused, it’s easy to vegetarianize groundnut stew (domodah) with tender hunks of pumpkin and sturdy greens. Nigeria’s suya spice is based on ground roasted peanuts.

Peanut butter-based desserts are American classics. For a lighter (and more antioxidant-rich) peanut treat, pour melted dark chocolate over a tray of roasted peanuts, sprinkle on a little flaky sea salt, and then cool. When it’s solid, break the candy up into chunks.

Surprising fact:

Arachibutyrophobia may sound like a serious condition, but it’s just a fear of having peanut butter stick to the roof of your mouth.