This is a new recipe I discovered from Tom Philpott in Grist Magazine. It is thick, and smokey, and really good when you’ve got a chill in the bone and need something that will stick to the ribs. If you eat it with rice (or another grain) you’ve got a complete protein in combination with the split peas. I never liked split peas but with this new discovery I’m quite a fan. Buy some really good smoked Spanish paprika and the recipe will hum.

“Mise en place: (A French cooking term that essentially means, “getting your shit together”):

1. 1.5 cup split peas, rinsed and picked through for rocks

2. 1 large onion, 1 large carrot, 1 large celery stalk, chopped. (This flavor-building mixture is called a mirepoix in French; it is a great thing).

3. 2-4 cloves garlic, minced. (I use four.)

4. 4.5 cups water or homemade stock.

5. Some decent extra-virgin olive oil; and the best olive oil in the house (don’t worry if you don’t have a special bottle).

6. Something spicy/smoky: 2 teaspoons of Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton de la Vera, available where good spices are sold); or 1-2 minced chipotle peppers, dried and re-hydrated in hot water or canned. Alternately, a few slices of good quality bacon (i.e., from pastured hogs) could be chopped and added to the mirepoix (number 2 above).

7. Something acidic, like a wedge of lemon or some wine vinegar.

8. Good sea salt and a pepper grinder.

9. Something green, like flat-leaf parsley or even arugula. To be chopped while peas are cooking.

10. A little crushed red chile pepper, optional but really nice.

Process:

Cover bottom of a medium heavy-bottom pot with your everyday olive oil. Turn heat to a gentle medium. After a minute, add the miroepoix vegetables (hold off on the garlic; it burns easily). Cook, stirring often, for ten or so minutes, until veggies are soft but not browned. If they threaten to turn brown, turn heat down a little. Add the garlic and the paprika or chipotles. Cook, stirring, until garlic perfumes the air, a minute or so. Note the beautiful red hue everything has turned. Add the peas, stir to mix with the veggies. Add the water or stock; bring to boil; cover; turn heat to low; let simmer.

As the peas cook, check them every few minutes. If they seem on the verge of drying out, add some hot water or stock. While they’re cooking, chop about half a bunch of parsley or a several arugula leaves for garnish. The peas should be done in about an hour, maybe a little less. They are ready when they are very soft. Their collapse should be complete, catastrophic, abject: like a Democratic Senator confronting a question of principle.

When they are done, add a vigorous twist or three of black pepper, and taste. They will taste quite flat. Stir in a teaspoon of salt, and marvel at the flavors that emerge. Now add a small amount of acid—a teaspoon or so lemon juice or vinegar. You don’t want it to taste lemony or vinegary; you just want the acid to balance the flavors. Taste again and adjust for salt, pepper, and acid. More smoked paprika could be added at this stage, if desired.

To serve, ladle into warm bowls over brown rice or toasted crusty bread. Drizzle with the best olive oil you have—this dish will showcase its flavor—add a dash of crushed chile flakes, and a good sprinkle of chopped greens.

This dish goes with malty, lightly hopped brown ales like Bell’s Best Brown; and with rustic, simple red wines. I’ve been enjoying the 2008 Vin de Pays du Vaucluse ($10), bottled for the great wine merchant Kermit Lynch.”

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I made up this recipe based on a few I’ve eaten when I’m out and about. I’m really happy with it. You can add more or less dressing depending on your preference:

1 cup mixed wild rice, cooked

1 cup barley, cooked

1 cup black quinoa, cooked

1 – 2 cups pumpkin seeds (roasted tamari pumpkin seeds are nice)

5 celery stalks, chopped and lightly sautéed

4 large carrots, chopped and lightly sautéed

(some sautéed fennel is also nice if you have some around)

3/4 cup of dried cranberries

Bunch of green onion, chopped

Bunch of parsley, chopped

Bunch of cilantro, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix. Toss with the dressing below.

Dressing:

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon grated ginger

dash maple syrup

1/2 cup Olive oil

Salt and Pepper