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Old 05-08-2005, 03:31 AM
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Default Split Peas With Honey-Sweetened Eggplant

Split Peas With Honey-Sweetened Eggplant

Greeks call pureed split peas fava, not to be confused with what we
call fava beans. The combination of pureed split peas and honey-kissed
eggplant compote makes for a very comforting dish.

For split pea puree
1 large red onion, finely chopped (2 cups)
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (preferably Greek)
1 lb yellow split peas (2 1/4 cups), picked over, rinsed well, and drained
6 cups water
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
For eggplant compote
1/2 lb eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (3 1/2 cups)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 large tomatoes
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (preferably Greek) plus additional
for drizzling
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon mild honey
1 tablespoon drained bottled small capers (in brine), rinsed
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil or chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic or Greek raisin vinegar

Make puree:
Cook onion in 1/3 cup oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderately
low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add
split peas and stir until well coated, then stir in water and bay leaf.
Increase heat to moderately high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat
and slowly simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until
mixture is soupy, about 1 hour. Stir in salt and continue to cook,
stirring more frequently as puree thickens, until water is absorbed
and mixture is the consistency of creamy mashed potatoes, 30 minutes to
1 hour more. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and remaining 1/3
cup oil, then cool to room temperature, pot covered with a kitchen
towel. (Puree will thicken as it cools.) Discard bay leaf.
Make eggplant compote while split peas simmer:
Toss eggplant with 3/4 teaspoon salt in a colander set over a bowl.
Place a plate or bowl directly on top of eggplant to weight it down and
let drain 1 hour. Rinse eggplant (discarding liquid) and pat dry.

Cut a shallow X in bottom of each tomato with a paring knife and blanch
tomatoes in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan of boiling water 10 seconds.
Transfer tomatoes with a slotted spoon to a cutting board and, when
cool enough to handle, peel, beginning from scored end, with knife.
Halve tomatoes crosswise and seed, then cut into 1-inch pieces.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy nonstick skillet over
moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then add eggplant and
saute, stirring occasionally, until just golden, transferring to a
plate. Reduce heat to low, then add remaining 3 tablespoons oil and
onions to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and
golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.
Stir in honey until incorporated. Add eggplant, tomatoes, capers,
basil, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, then gently simmer,
stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar (to taste) and remove
from heat. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature, uncovered.

Serve puree topped with eggplant and drizzled with olive oil.

Cooks' notes:
.. Split pea puree can be made up to 4 hours ahead and kept, covered,
at room temperature.
.. Eggplant compote can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.
Bring to room temperature before serving.

Makes 8 to 10 first-course or side-dish servings.

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