On Sunday, I bustled about in the sort of cozy housewifely satisfaction that can only be accurately described by certain Victorian novelists (NOT, I think, George Gissing) and Ellis Peters; I was preparing to make a yummy dinner. My plan: Mexican split pea soup, fresh local corn on the cob (grilled, of course), and a gigantic salad with Romesco dressing. Nothing complicated, but both the soup and the dressing required some advance preparation: the split peas for the soup and the almonds for the dressing needing to be soaked for several hours in advance. I did this. I was organized and confident and looking forward to stuffing my face hardily.
Early in the evening, I began assembling my other ingredients and discovered to my shame and horror that I lacked one key ingredient for the soup: the rosemary. This soup is a thing whose beauty and eternal joy are perhaps mildly but not at all minorly reliant upon the rosemary. All the stores near us had already closed. I tore through my cookbooks looking for another pea soup recipe that used both the amount of peas I’d been soaking for the last several hours and ingredients I already had in the house. It was not to be. In the end, the only thing left was to make Dana food, a fast and tasty dish passed on to my by my darling Vee. So, here you are: fast and easy yum yums for those nights when you’re tired and the outer limits of your fresh produce supply has long been left behind and one onion is your only remaining non-pantry item.
Point of information: We call it Dana food because we don’t know its real name. There was a Palestinian woman named Dana in our PhD program who made this lovely dish for Vee, and Vee was kind and shared it with me. It is called Dana food in proper homage to Dana, and to our poor memories.
Part the first:
Caramelize a thinly sliced large onion in a medium sauce pan. I use non-stick so I can get away with the tiniest amount of canola oil (1/2 tsp). Once the onions are caramelized, add one drained and rinsed 19 oz can o’ chickpeas and 2 cups veg stock, then boil for 20 minutes.
Part the second:
Cook one cup of bulgher in 2 cups of water in a small sauce pan. Fluff and set aside when ready.
Part the third:
Blend until smooth 1/4 cup tahini, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, 1/4 tsp salt, 3 cloves garlic, and 1/2 cup water for a crazy delicious tahini sauce.
Parts one through three may be performed just as simultaneously as you like.
In your bowl, layer: bulgher, chickpea mixture, sauce. Stir. Eat. It’s kind of soupy; that’s part of why it’s so good.
Now, about this tahini sauce. The recipe calls for a yoghurt sauce that contains tahini. Vee and I tried making it as Dana passed it on, but with vegan soyghurt instead of dairy yoghurt. Here’s the problem: while there is deliciously irresistible plain unsweetened soyghurt to be found in the world (Europe), there are only sugary chemically flavoured piles of poo to be found here (North America). So that was not a success.
I decided it would best, for both soul and palate, just to bypass the yoghurtiness of it altogether and go for a lemon tahini sauce that might make one think of Middle Eastern goodness in some vague way. Damn, that was a good idea. Really, you ought to try it. Maybe even tonight, especially if it’s as drear and rain-soaked where you are as it is here. As for me, I’ve resolved my rosemary emergency and there will be Mexican split pea soup topped with guacamole at my house tonight. Cheers, friends.