This is a spiced-up version and one of my weekday staples — easy, homey, and consistently satisfying. When I’m feeling lazy or fresh out of ideas, I rely on this tried and true preparation. Just need a few ingredients, most of which I usually have on hand. A little chopping and then the split peas just need to cook down for about an hour until they become thick and creamy. You can prepare this dish ahead of time and reheat when ready to serve. In fact, it tastes even better after sitting a day or two (in the refrigerator), as the flavors meld and develop.
For this preparation I included turmeric, mostly for color (it’s also a nutritional powerhouse); sumac, which adds a distinct lemon-y flavor; cumin; fresh thyme; cilantro; chives; and habanero chile pepper, which adds a nice fruitiness and a bit of heat (not overpowering — only use half of one habanero). You can jazz this dish up with fresh cheese, such as feta, yogurt, or maybe even a few grilled squid tentacles (if you’re feeling adventurous). Pair with a salad or sauteed greens and you have yourself an easy, healthy, and inexpensive meal.
Spiced Yellow Split Peas
1 1/2 cups yellow split peas, picked over, washed, and drained
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons chives or green onions
1/2 habanero chile pepper, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sumac (optional)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed to a pulp
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
hot smoked paprika
feta or yogurt (optional)
grilled squid (optional)
Combine the split peas and 5 cups of water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil. Add the turmeric, stir, and turn down the heat to low, partially cover and simmer for 35 minutes. Add the onion, chives, habanero, thyme, salt, and sumac. Partially cover and simmer for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the split peas are tender.
When the split peas are almost done, heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. When very hot, add the cumin seeds. Let sizzle for 10 seconds. Add the garlic and stir for a few seconds until golden. Stir the cumin-garlic mixture into the split peas. Stir in the chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lemon. Ladle into individual bowls.
Top each bowl with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, smoked paprika, and some chopped cilantro. Can also add a little feta or swirl of yogurt (or grilled squid).