For the Love of Garlic

So, experimenting with foods is fun, right? And incorporating techniques from other cultures is a must, correct? Okay, well, that’s the basis for this somewhat intricate “Slow Food” recipe. There is a recommended variant at the end that un-Vegan-izes it, but you’re free to leave that step off if you’re preparing with those guidelines in mind.

Point of interest, I titled it “purée” (because it is) but “dip” would have worked just as well. So well, in fact, that my husband mistook it for my homemade hummus and dug in with some Triscuit Thin Crisps, straight from the fridge. Really wish I had a picture of the face he made when he realized, “Nope, that ain’t hummus!”

On with the instructions. Forgive me if they’re a bit rambling – you’ll have plenty of time to read everything while the yellow split peas are simmering. Heck, you’ll have practically enough time to read War and Peace, if the mood strikes. The yield is quite large because if you’re going to spend this much time preparing something, you don’t want it gone in one serving. At least, that’s my prevailing preference.

1 c. yellow split peas, rinsed
1 T. organic extra virgin coconut oil (EVCO)
1 sweet yellow onion
1 T. minced garlic (I use the kind packed in olive oil)
1 t. minced ginger

In a deep pot, sauté the onion, garlic and ginger in the EVCO on a medium-low heat (EVCO spatters a lot if it gets too hot) until onion is transluscent. Add the rinsed yellow split peas and enough cool water to cover everything about 2 inches deep. Bring to a boil then turn down to simmer – I leave mine uncovered. You will have to watch the water – when it evaporates enough so that the peas begin to stick to the pot, you’ll need to stir in more. I have an electric water kettle that I keep handy to preheat the water so I don’t mess up my simmer. These take almost two hours to simmer down to a purée consistency, so you’ll probably need to add more water two or three times.

While that is cooking, I leisurely begin the next portion…
1 head of cauliflower, broken into small pieces
1 whole head of garlic
4 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
Mild curry seasoning and Sea Salt / Real Salt / Celtic Salt, to taste

Remove the excess papery skin from and chop just the tops off the head of garlic then place it in an oven-safe dish. Pour a couple tablespoons of olive oil over the garlic, cover with foil and bake at 400° for about 30-35 minutes until garlic is soft. TRY NOT TO EAT IT ALL STRAIGHTAWAY! (Yes, roasted garlic really is that divine.) (No, I didn’t tell you that it is a wonderful spread on some warm crusty bread.)

Once the garlic is in the oven, put the cauliflower in a large pot with enough water to just cover it. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5-7 minutes. The stems should just be beginning to turn a sort of transluscent greenish color. Remove the cauliflower and retain about a cup of the cooking water.

Allow the cauliflower and roasted garlic to cool until they are just warm then place together in a large food processor with a little of the cooking water. Blend to a mashed potato consistency, adding cook water and olive oil as needed to adjust thickness. I admit, I got mine a little watery for my taste, but it didn’t impact the end result significantly. Also, I went a little crazy (compared to my norm) with the curry and salt, since I’ve had issues with underseasoning in the past, but I liked the result. This dish can handle – actually insists upon – a solid helping of herbs and spices.

Once the yellow split peas have simmered to a nice, thick purée-style texture, stir in the puréed garlic and cauliflower, et voilà! I gobbled down a bowl of this with some store-bought naan, using the soft, warm bread as a scoop. Mmm…

If you need a dip to take to a party, say, a house-warming party (where I debuted this recipe), and would prefer to serve it cold, you can mix a cup of plain Greek yogurt into a cup and a half of the cooled split pea and cauliflower blend. It’s a little soupy, but it’s good for dipping crusty bread, pita chips, or raw veggies. If you felt an inclination to sneak a piece of Muenster cheese onto your bread before you dipped, you probably wouldn’t be disappointed.

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