Last night's meal was a product of two things: salvaging leftover vegetables on the brink of going bad and my recent dive into the world of legumes. That's right, folks... recession cuisine has come to kitchenplay.
I've always loved black beans, lentils and chickpeas, but other than that, I haven't experimented with many others in the legume family. Last night, I stocked up: great northern beans, lentils, yellow split peas, chick peas...
I still had potatoes, carrots and onions from past culinary projects, so some sort of lentil stew started to form itself in my head. I recently came into a mother lode of za'atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend which I love, and wanted to incorporate some of that too. The yellow split peas were so pretty, I decided to work with those.
Yellow Split Pea Stew
1 Large Onion, diced
As Much As You Want Garlic, chopped up
3-5 carrots, cut in rounds
5ish potatoes, cubed
Spices (I used two tbls. za'atar*, 1 tbls. cumin and a generous dash of hot pepper flakes)
One bag of yellow split peas** (or lentils)
2-3 cups of broth
Tomato paste (about 2 tbls.)
Lemon juice (about one whole lemon)
Salt and pepper
Saute onion in olive oil. Add garlic, carrots, potatoes and spices with about half a cup of water. I sauteed these on their own for about 5 minutes before adding the other ingredients. Add the peas and broth (enough so that all ingredients are submerged). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour. Add the tomato paste and lemon juice while the stew simmers. Season with salt and pepper, more of any of the spices if desired. Add more water and/or broth if needed.
The result is a thick, reddish-brown stew with lots of spice, but not spicy. I had it for lunch today and the cumin flavor had mellowed out a lot since last night. I'm going to eat some this week and freeze the rest for later.
* You can get za'atar in Philly at Bitars, 10th and Federal Streets.
**I soaked the peas in really hot water for about an hour before cooking.