on cooking in california: part 3

The second wave of things we made an effort to stock included chickpea flour, lentils, and split peas. We use the chickpea flour in a Spanish dish we got straight from Mark Bittman: eggless chickpea pancakes with scallions and a touch of seafood. He uses fresh shrimp, while we use our pantry staple, canned clams. He calls them “tor-til-ee-tas,” and we imitate him just because we know better. Chickpea flour can also be used to dust foods for frying, as a binder in things like meatballs, or in savory muffins. We’ve also thought we could use it in making hummus or maybe falafel, but we’re not sure how the flour’s fine texture will affect those dishes.

The lentils and split peas are a substitute for the dried beans we never manage to find the time to cook. Since we started making an effort to use the easier-cooking pulses as the protein in more of our meals, I have learned to make split pea soup (thanks, Cooks Illustrated), split peas with smoked paprika and olive oil, a French lentil ragout with bacon and vermouth, butter- and cream-enriched dal makhani, a coriander- and onion-flavored Egyptian dish called rishta (Joy of Cooking), and a sandwich of lentils and homemade barbeque sauce, which we refer to as Hippie Joes.

My sister gave me the technique for the barbeque sauce, which she cobbled together from online recipes: mix tomato paste, bourbon, brown sugar, molasses, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and lime juice together until the taste and color suit you. To make Hippie Joes, simmer some cooked lentils in the sauce, then sandwich into toasted buns.

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