I feel like I’m developing a split personality: Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. I wouldn’t leave this bed if there was an atomic blast in my kitchen.
Yesterday I was so exhausted (3 ½ weeks till my due date) that I couldn’t even muster the will to hit the supermarket. So I found myself staring into the open refrigerator, surveying this week’s odds and ends.
When I first moved to Paris, G. would often find me meditating in front of the open fridge – contemplating world peace or choosing middle names for my unborn children. This studying of the culinary stockpile seems to be a uniquely American habit. The French never open the fridge in passing, just to check if everything’s still there. Personally, I draw comfort from it – like a king surveying his realm.
To combat the fatigue, I’ve been told I need more iron in my diet. So I went hunting for a bag of orange lentils I was sure I had stashed at the back of a cabinet some months ago. My thought was a cold lentil salad with a zingy orange-ginger vinaigrette, handfuls of chopped herbs and slices of white peach. (The purple-green Puy lentils, more common in France, just seemed too dark for a summer salad.) After unpacking half the kitchen, what I came up with were not orange lentils, but a bag of yellow split peas. That will have to do.
The split peas have been hiding up there for a while – I’m pretty sure I bought them after trip to Puglia, where we were served warm split pea puree drizzled with wonderful glass green olive oil and a grind of fresh pepper. Still hankering after a cold salad – I tried cooking the dried peas al dente, as I would the lentils – but a ½ hour later I ended up with a chalky, starchy mess. So I decided to boil on past defeat and transform my salad into the silky puree I’d eaten with such gusto in Italy.
When the peas were sweet and tender and the liquid almost absorbed, I got out the power tools. I’m deeply attached to my hand blender – a dainty equivalent to an obsession with chain saws. The orange-ginger vinaigrette was already made, so I dumped it in. The recipe’s necessary dose of olive oil would have some lively company.
The result was a warm, golden puree – with just enough citrus to deviate from the classic. I toasted some Pain Poliâne, slathered the bread, and chopped some dill. My tartines were still lacking a bit of sunshine, so I put a slice of white peach on top.
Lunch was delicious, but more effort than I’d anticipated. Time for a nap.
Yellow Spilt Pea Puree with Orange Ginger Vinaigrette
2 cups yellow split peas
6 cups cold water
3 tablespoons best extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
3 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons freshly grated ginger
Generous ¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt
Fresh chopped dill, to taste
½ white peach, thinly sliced
Thinly sliced sourdough bread, toasted
In a medium saucepan, combine peas and water. Bring to boil, lower the heat and simmer for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until most of the water is absorbed.
In a glass jar or airtight container, add the oil, orange juice, vinegar, ginger and salt. Give it a good shake to combine.
Stir the vinaigrette into the peas; puree with your hand blender (or in a regular blender).
Serve warm with an extra drizzle of olive oil, the chopped dill and a slice of white peach.
Serves 4 (light lunch) or 8-10 (hors d’oeuvre).