Tag Archives: yellow split peas

Book Review: Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

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This is the second ‘vegetables first’ cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi. For those of us who have his first book, Plenty, this is more of the same. It is a lushly photographed celebration of vegetables, fruits, funghi, grains and pulses. You cannot read this book without realising that this is a man who loves vegetables and knows how to put them together to make a multi-flavoured, multi-textured dish. Ottolenghi gets accused of using a lot of ingredients, most of them difficult to get hold of. The last one isn’t that true – you can get most of the ingredients in one of the big, main supermarkets. As for a lot of ingredients, well, you can’t get layers of flavour and texture without them. This is not a book to reach for when you want to throw something together after a long day at work, but if you have the time to spare this book will give you something special to eat at the end of the process.

It does have its eccentricities, though. It is divided into sections by cooking method, so you get Tossed, Steamed, Blanched, Simmered, Braised, Grilled, Roasted, Fried, Mashed, Cracked, Baked and Sweetened as chapters. Now, it might just be me, but I don’t normally wander into the kitchen when I’m hungry and think ‘Hmm, I fancy something blanched today!’ There is an index, but no glossary of ingredients. Sometimes Ottolenghi explains the more unusual ingredients at the start of the recipe or in the ingredients list, but sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes he suggests alternatives, but sometimes not. If you don’t know what za’atar, shiso and freekeh are, this book isn’t going to tell you.

I think the Tossed chapter is the most successful. Yes, there are lots of ingredients, but they mostly just need putting in the salad bowl or mixing in the dressing. And there are really interesting dressings that would go well on several different dishes.

My least favourite sections are the Cracked and Baked ones. Mr Ottolenghi says in the introduction that he is not a vegetarian and does not want to be pigeon-holed as a vegetarian writer (the horror!). It really shows in this section, not just because there’s a lot of cheese in these recipes, but because there appears to be no attempt to choose vegetarian cheeses. Parmesan is used a lot, gorgonzola appears, so does roquefort. There’s no help for it, you cannot use any named cheese in this book unless you first check that it’s vegetarian. I spotted 22 recipes using non-vegetarian cheese, there may be others.

This is a bit of mixed bag of a book. It is in turns inspirational, aspirational and infuriating for this vegetarian home cook. Having said that, if more chefs took recipes from this book and put them on menus as the veggie option, I would be a much happier woman.

Title: Plenty More
Author: Yotam Ottolenghi
Publisher: Ebury Press
Year: 2014
Pages: 351
Recipes: 154 (including 49 vegan and 22 non-vegetarian)
Price: £27 (hardback)
ISBN 9780092957155

I was thinking of doing one of the Tossed salads for my recipe tryout, but then I found Ottolenghi had done a recipe for Fava, the greek version of pease pudding. That decided it for this Durham lass! Besides, as in a lot of the traditional recipes in the book, they haven’t been complicated.

fava photo DSCN1711_zps62422255.jpg

Ingredients
3 large onions
300g yellow split peas
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp turmeric
100ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp lemon juice
35g capers, roughly chopped
10g chives, finely chopped
salt and white pepper

Chop one of the onions into rough chunks. Add to the split peas, bay leaves and turmeric in a large saucepan.
Add enough water to cover twice the amount of peas.
Bring to the simmer, skim off any scum, cover and let simmer for 60 minutes or until the peas are soft.
Keep an eye on them and add more water if necessary, they should be loose and sloppy like thick porridge at the end.
While the peas are cooking, slice the remaining onions finely and fry in a tablespoon of the oil until they are golden brown. Set aside.
When the peas are cooked, remove the bay leaves, blend the peas with the olive oil, garlic cloves and lemon juice until you have a smooth paste. Add water if the mixture is too stiff.
Season generously with salt and pepper.
Stir in half the fried onion.
Serve in a bowl with the rest of the fried onion, capers, chives and add a drizzle of olive oil.

Serves 4 to 6

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Recipe: Vegetarian Pea Soup

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London is famous for its fogs, but the really famous fog, the London Particular or Pea-Souper never happens now. Oh, it still gets foggy in London occasionally, but the yellow-tinged, lung-searing mix of smoke from coal fires and mist from the London basin, was ended by the clean air acts of the 1950s and 60s. It is just as well. Thick fogs sound romantic and very Sherlockian, but the last Great Smog of 1952, which lasted four days, is estimated to have contributed to the deaths of 12,000 people.

If the fogs have gone, the soup remains. This can be made with green or yellow split peas and I have stuck with yellow. The original recipe would include a ham bone, or a bacon joint. I have included a sprinkle of smoked paprika to add a smoky hit to the soup. If you have some smoked salt, that would be good added in right at the end, too.

Pea Soup photo DSCN1059_zpsd78f00f0.jpg

Ingredients
1 onion, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
200g split peas
1l veg stock
1 bay leaf
1/2tsp fresh thyme
Smoked paprika for garnish

Soften the onion, celery and carrot in a little oil in a large saucepan.
Once the onion is translucent add the split peas, stock, bay leaf and thyme.
Season with salt and pepper.
Cover and simmer for 90 minutes or until the peas will break apart when pushed against the side of the pan.
Stir vigorously to break up the peas a little.
Check the seasoning and serve with a sprinkle of smoked paprika.

Serves 2 with a little extra for seconds

Recipe: Afghan Carrot Hotpot

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This is another recipe from Veggiestan. It caught my eye as being an unusual combination of yellow split peas and carrots, which is not something I’d ever thought of putting together before. I was also a little sceptical as to whether unsoaked yellow split peas would cook before the carrots turned into mush. Well I was wrong, the peas are cooked through and the carrots are tender, but hold their shape. The spicing is light with this recipe, the chilli just adds a background heat and the vinegar lifts the flavours.

There’s not much prep involved in this recipe and it cooks in an hour, it could just be a winner on a cold, rainy winter’s evening.

Afghan Carrot Hotpot photo DSCN1043_zpsf39b7f71.jpg

Ingredients
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1cm ginger, peeled and chopped
1 green chilli, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 clove
300g chanteray carrots, or 2 large carrots cut into large pieces
150g yellow split peas
2 tsp tomato puree
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp vinegar
300ml vegetable stock

Heat some oil in a large saucepan and add the onion.
Soften for a couple of minutes and then add the garlic, ginger and chilli.
Stir for a few more minutes and then add the spices and stir until they have all mixed in with the oil.
Add the carrots, split peas, tomato puree, tomatoes and the vinegar.
Add the vegetable stock, this should just cover the mixture.
Season to taste.
Bring to the simmer, then cover and simmer for 60 minutes.
Check every so often to make sure it’s not catching on the bottom of the pan and add some boiling water if it is getting too dry.
Serve with rice and some mango chutney on the side.

Serves 4

Recipe: Pease Pudding

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There are some tastes that define a region. For me, as someone growing up in the North East of England, that taste is Pease Pudding. This dish of boiled yellow split peas, eaten hot (as in the nursery rhyme), or spread on bread can take me back there like no other taste on earth. The taste is simple with the earthy sweetness of the peas all there is to it, but that honesty of ingredients and purpose makes this far more than the sum of its parts. And the purpose of the dish is that of poverty, the pease pudding would be made alongside (and sometimes in the same pot as) the piece of bacon or ham it will supplement. The traditional way of serving it is in a bread bun (preferably a stotty) with a slice of ham and maybe a pickle – I preferred pickled onions, but there’s a strong case to be made for pickled beetroot. That is why you will see a pot of yellow paste in the cold meat counters of most butchers in the NE.

Although ham/bacon stock was a traditional ingredient, most commercial pease puddings (and it’s big business in the NE) is made with vegetable stock or just water. I prefer to use vegetable stock.

I’ve sometimes heard pease pudding called the ‘Geordie hummus’, which never set well with me. In the course of researching this recipe I’ve discovered that it is the exact analogy of the greek dish, fava.

I’m such a fan of pease pudding that I’ll happily eat it on bread or toast on its own, but it’s supposed to be eaten alongside something else: something sharp and vinegary or lemony for preference.

Cooking time is only a guideline, I’m afraid. It very much depends on how old or awkward your split peas are. I don’t think I’ve cooked this in under 90 minutes, but 120+ is not that unusual. I’ve specified enough water for a 90 minute simmer, but add more if it goes over that amount of time. You want the hot pudding to be fairly loose like wallpaper paste – it will thicken up as it cools.

pease pudding photo DSCN0916_zps9cf8ca64.jpg

Ingredients
200g yellow split peas, soaked overnight in plenty of water
750ml water
1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder, or 1 vegetable stock cube

Drain and rinse the split peas.
Add to a saucepan and add the water.
Bring to a fast simmer.
A white foamy scum will float to the top, skim this off.
Stir in the bouillon powder or stock cube.
Cover and lower the temperature to a gentle simmer.
Simmer for 90 minutes or until the peas are tender. They should mush against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon.
Stir vigorously until you have a smooth paste (the odd lump isn’t a problem.)
Season generously with salt and pepper.
Transfer to a basin or covered container and leave to cool.
Serve spread on bread with as many additions as you think necessary!