As the price of food continues to rise, I spent a little time looking over the dried peas and beans selection at a local market. Even the most expensive of these will still provide a lot of economical meals, but I was going for really cheap, and I found the two lowest price products were whole dried peas, with yellow split peas only a few pennies more. I didn't have time to cook the whole peas for dinner (they have to soak an extended time, just like dried beans), but the split peas would be quick, if I could just come up with a flavorful meal with what I had in the cupboard.
I still had some green peppers in the refrigerator from a super special a few weeks ago, so it was time to stuff some peppers. Since yellow split peas are a common ingredient of many of the dhals cooked in India, I decided to go in that direction with the seasonings.
Note the microwave preparation of the peppers. This cuts the time a great deal and keeps more of the fresh flavor of the vegetable. These would be great with yellow or red peppers in place of the green ones--or a mixture of all the colors for some real color appeal.
Dhal Stuffed Peppers
1 c chopped onion (one medium)
1 to 2 c grated carrot (one to two medium)
1 T canola oil
1 c yellow split peas, washed and rinsed (8 oz)
3 c water (may need a bit more as the peas cook)
2 vegetable or chicken bouillon cubes
1 to 2 t garlic powder
2 t curry powder, or to taste
1/2 t coriander (optional)
1/2 t cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 t cumin
2 large green peppers, cut in half lengthwise
1. Wash and rinse the split peas and cover with water. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a slow simmer. Total cooking time will be about 30 minutes. The peas should be very soft when done.
2. Saute the onions and grated carrots in the oil, cooking slowly until the onions are just starting to brown. Set aside.
3. When the peas are just about as soft as you want, stir the bouillon cubes and other seasonings into the peas and stir well. Continue cooking until the peas are soft.
4. When the peas are done, puree in a food processor or blender until smooth. Stir this mixture into the onions and carrots and mix well. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
5. Meanwhile, cut the peppers, remove all seeds and white inner sections. Place in a glass casserole dish (a 9 inch square baking pan works well) that has been sprayed with nonstick coating. Cover lightly and microwave for about 3 minutes, until they are just barely beginning to soften.
6. Distribute the split pea mixture among the peppers, packing it in well. You may have more filling than you need. Either fill a couple of additional peppers or save the puree for serving with pita at another meal.
7. Cover the dish lightly and return to the microwave for another two to three minutes, until the peppers are piping hot.
8. Serve topped with chopped raw onion and cilantro if desired. Serves 4.
This is a vegan dish if vegetable bouillon cubes are used.
Frugal: The peppers were on sale for 33 cents each, the split peas cost 79 cents for a pound, and the onions had also been purchased for 33 cents a pound. This entire dish easily cost less than $2 for four servings and there is likely to be enough extra filling for at least one or two pitas for tomorrow's lunches. Those gardeners who are more successful than I might remember this if you have a bumper crop of peppers this year.
(You might want to try this--with some bell or hot peppers added with the onions--to stuff overly abundant zucchini as well.)
Fast: All of the preparation can be completed while the peas are cooking, so it would take little more than 45 minutes to have this done, start to finished. Finish with whatever fresh fruit is in season for a quick dessert course, with or without some yogurt to add dairy if you are so inclined.
Fit: It's hard to get healthier than a dish with all these vegetables and a low-fat protein source.
Fun: If your family likes Indian food, this would be a quick way to include these favorite seasonings in a quick weeknight meal. And the colors in this meal really brighten the table.