This recipe works with yellow or green split peas, any split legumes (aka dals), lentils, or a mixture. If you live near an Indian market, you have a wonderland of dals from which to choose. Although not required, soaking in hot water, covered, for a couple of hours reduces cooking time. You can stir in the greens as detailed below, or you can steam or sauté them and serve them alongside with hot cooked rice, quinoa, another grain, or pasta.
fresh or jarred red sweet peppers, chopped
jalapeño chile or other fresh chile, thinly sliced
yellow split peas or legumes of choice, soaked in hot water and drained
fresh rosemary sprigs
fresh tomato, chopped, or canned tomatoes with juices
greens (such as beet tops, kale, collards, Swiss chard, spinach, turnip tops, or a mixture), stemmed and leaves cut into ribbons
balsamic vinegar or vinegar of choice (optional)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
chopped fresh cilantro and/or fresh parsley
In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the peppers and chile and cook until softened and fragrant. Add the legumes, water to cover by ½ inch, the bay leaves, and rosemary sprigs. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, until soft, adding water as needed to keep the legumes submerged.
Stir in the tomato and turmeric and simmer until the tomato breaks down into the liquid. Stir in the greens and cook until the greens are done to your liking.
Drizzle with the vinegar, season to taste with salt and pepper, garnish with the fresh herbs, and serve.
Lots of options for using these little, savory baked goodies: inside a pita instead of falafel, in a taco or burrito, on a pizza, with spaghetti marinara, inside lettuce cups or fresh spring rolls, on a salad, etc. Feel free to add or omit seasonings—the recipe is very flexible!
split peas, rinsed
granulated garlic or garlic, minced
chipotle chile powder or other chile powder (optional)
fresh lemon juice
Dijon mustard or prepared mustard of choice
tamari or coconut aminos
flour of choice (chickpea, rice, coconut, gluten-free, whole wheat, etc.)
kosher salt and ground black pepper
In a large saucepan, bring water (1½ parts water to 1 part split peas) to a boil, add the split peas, and simmer, covered, until very soft, checking to see if more water is needed. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peas to a large bowl.
Add the potatoes to the same saucepan plus water to cover and simmer until very soft. Drain, add to the split peas, and mash with a fork.
Add the carrot, onion, garlic, cumin, thyme, chile powder, lemon juice, mustard, tomato paste, and tamari. With a rubber or silicone spatula, mix the ingredients together, adding enough flour to make the mixture sticky. Taste and adjust with salt, pepper, or any of the other seasonings.
Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Form the mixture into small balls and place on the prepared pan. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Pull the pan out of the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking. Bake, turning the pan as needed for even baking. When the balls are browned but slightly soft when squeezed, turn on the broiler and broil until completely crispy, making sure they don’t burn. Serve warm or at room temperature.
An Indian market has an endless supply of legumes to try, and this dish is a great way to experiment. This particular combination has sweetness and chew from the chana dal (split baby chickpeas) and the split peas, while the lentils thicken the mix. If you don’t have an Indian grocery nearby, use whatever canned or dried beans, split peas, and lentils you enjoy. Soaking the legumes shortens the cooking time, and curry powder is a good substitute for the list of spices. Serve as a side dish or over rice or pasta.
chana dal or whole moong dal
red lentils or lentils of choice
avocado oil, coconut oil, or extra-virgin olive oil
leek, halved and sliced, or shallot, chopped
halved cherry tomatoes, chopped regular tomatoes, or canned tomatoes
garlic, sliced or chopped
fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
jalapeño chile, sliced
freshly ground pepper
fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
Wash and drain the legumes. Put them in a large bowl, cover with hot water by several inches, let soak for an hour or two, rinse, and drain.
Warm the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and leek and cook until softened. Add the tomatoes, sprinkle with salt, and cook until the mixture becomes saucy.
Stir in the legumes and cook for a minute or two. Add enough water to cover by half an inch, cover, bring to a boil, and then simmer, stirring occasionally, until the legumes are almost soft. Add more water if the mixture becomes dry. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and jalapeño and cook for a minute or two. Add the spices and cook until the legumes are completely soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper, sprinkle with fresh herbs, and serve.
What makes this dish creamy is the chana dal (split baby garbanzo beans). If you can’t find them, use yellow split peas. Why add beets? They give texture plus sweetness to balance the savory in the garlic and rosemary, but you can substitute potatoes, carrots, zucchini, or another vegetable if you like.
extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or ghee
beets, preferably Chioggia or golden beets because they don’t bleed, cut into ½-in. dice
Heat oil in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add beets for a minute or two and then the lentils and chana dal. Cook, covered, stirring often, until beets begin to soften.
Add stock (about 3 parts stock to 1 part lentils/chana dal) to pan, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered, until the legumes are almost soft. Stir in rosemary and garlic and cook until rosemary has fallen off the sprig and legumes are completely soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
This one-bowl meal brings an exciting mix of flavors in every bite. The citrus dressing adds sweetness, saltiness, and sparkle (thanks for the idea, Josie). Use lentils that keep their shape when cooked, such as brown or French lentils—not red lentils, which turn creamy. You can roast broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, or any other vegetable in place of the brussels sprouts.
chopped raw vegetables, such as radishes, kohlrabi, jicama, fennel bulb
lime or lemon juice
toasted sesame oil
Dijon mustard or prepared mustard of choice
hard-cooked eggs, peeled and sliced
green onions, thinly sliced
toasted sunflower seeds
Preheat toaster oven or standard oven to 400º. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
Put 1 part lentils, 2 parts broth or water, and a sprinkle of salt in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Cover, bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until lentils are soft. Turn off heat but keep lentils warm.
Meanwhile, toss brussels sprouts with oil and roast cut side down in the lined baking pan until browned and soft. Sprinkle with salt. Transfer to a bowl.
Make salad dressing: Whisk together orange juice, lime juice, sesame oil, and mustard in a small bowl, tasting as you go.
Assemble individual salads in bowls: Layer lentils, brussels sprouts, raw vegetables, egg slices, green onions, and sunflower seeds. Drizzle with dressing and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, root vegetables, and mushrooms; sprinkle with salt. Cook, covered, until vegetables soften.
Meanwhile, put chiles in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. When soft, cut with scissors while submerged and stir chiles with soaking water into pot. Add red lentils and cook, stirring, for a minute or two. Add broth just to cover and cook, covered, until lentils are soft.
Add garlic, coconut milk, and cabbage. Cook, covered, until cabbage softens. Stir in Sriracha, shredded coconut, and green onions just before serving.
Chipotle chiles (smoked and dried red-ripe jalapeños) add the essential smokiness in this stew. Although black-eyed peas do not require soaking, you can shorten the cooking time by pouring hot water over them and allowing them to sit on the counter for an hour or more. Serve this stew over pasta or your grain of choice.
greens, such as collards, kale, or Swiss chard, center ribs removed and leaves chopped and washed
chile powder (optional)
hot sauce (optional)
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeño, if using, and potatoes. Cook until vegetables soften.
Add black-eyed peas, broth, and chipotles. When chipotles plump up and soften, use scissors to cut each into several pieces. Cook until black-eyed peas are soft.
Add salt, cauliflower, and more broth if needed. When cauliflower is soft, add greens and parsley, and cook until greens are soft. Add chile powder, if using, and pepper. Adjust seasonings and serve with your favorite hot sauce if you like.
* Find at well-stocked groceries or Latino markets.
I enjoy chickpea spread with vegetables mixed in—see my post about adding steamed broccoli to hummus. This version was inspired by the fresh beets and cooked chickpeas waiting for me in the fridge. Don’t be surprised by the lovely color of this spread!
Chickpea spread with beets and olives
For a quick version, whirl the cooked beets, olives, and herbs, and mix in your favorite prepared hummus.
I prefer Chioggia or golden beets because they don’t bleed and aren’t as fibrous as red beets, but any beets will work. There’s no need to wash, scrub, or peel the beets because the skins slide off easily after the beets are cooked.
tahini (sesame paste)
extra-virgin olive oil
pitted green olives with pickling liquid as needed or olive tapenade
fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme, chervil, cilantro, basil, tarragon, dill, oregano
Cut beets in half. Put in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, covered, over medium-high heat. Cook until easily pierced with a fork. Pour off cooking water, keeping beets in the pan. Cover beets with cold water to cool beets quickly. Rub beets to remove their skins.
Whirl beets, chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, oil, olives, garlic (if using), and your choice of fresh herbs. Adjust seasonings and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Yes, I’ve had curries at Indian, Thai, and other restaurants, but I’ve never made anything with coconut milk that tasted good—until now.
California curry with red lentils and vegetables
I call it a “California curry” to distance it from a specific world cuisine, given I combined the flavors of New Mexico chile powder, olive tapenade, and whole-fat coconut milk without a hint of curry paste. The red lentils give the rich coconut sauce a nice thickness. I served this curry over packaged precooked polenta that I sliced and broiled until crisp.
coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
leeks, cut crosswise into rings
potatoes, cut into 1/2-in. dice
zucchini or other summer squash, cut into 1/2-in. dice
cauliflower, cut in half and then into 1-in. steaks
full-fat coconut milk
chile powder, such as New Mexico and/or chipotle
olive tapenade or pitted chopped olives
hot sauce (optional)
Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add leeks, potatoes, zucchini, and cauliflower. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften.
Add coconut milk and vegetable broth to just cover vegetables (use water if needed). Bring to a simmer and stir in lentils and chile powder. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils and vegetables are soft. Add more water if needed so the sauce doesn’t get too thick.
Season to taste with salt, pepper, and olive tapenade. Serve with your favorite hot sauce if you like.