This recipe started from one (called Peas Sauteed with Tomato Nut Topping) in Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe, a book I highly recommend to anyone who’s concerned that a vegetarian diet can’t give them enough protein. She focuses on getting multiple sources of vegetarian protein into one meal, in this case peas, peanuts, whole wheat, and yogurt. (To make this meal vegan, skip the yogurt or choose a non-dairy yogurt.) Her recipe calls for dried split peas, fresh tomatoes, and whole peanuts, and it would be lengthy to prepare. On a whim, I tried making it with what we had on hand: canned peas, canned tomatoes, and peanut butter . . . and it turned out to be fabulously delicious and pretty easy to make!
Canned peas don’t have as much protein (or fiber or iron) as split peas [stats are for 1/2 cup of canned but 1 cup of split], but they actually have more Vitamins C and A. You can make this with frozen, dried, or fresh peas, instead . . . but the canned ones are so easy to mash!
UPDATE: Since I developed my version of the recipe in 2000, it’s become one of our family favorites! Our son has loved Red & Green Pockets since he was a toddler! A pocket sandwich is too cumbersome for him, but he loves to dip his bread in “red, geen, yoge,” as he happily chanted throughout the meal when he was about 18 months old.
To make 6 main-dish servings, you will need:
- 6 small whole-wheat pita breads (or, if you don’t want a pocket sandwich, regular whole-wheat bread for dipping or a cooked grain to eat with a fork)
- 30 oz. canned peas, or dried or fresh or frozen peas cooked until very soft
- 25-30 oz. canned diced tomatoes, or 2-3 fresh diced tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp. peanut butter
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 4-6 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 small onions or 1 large onion, diced
- 1 Tbsp. yellow curry powder
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. coriander
- 2 cups plain yogurt, or alternative tangy creamy topping
- olive oil
- mixing bowl and something to cover it (lid, plate, etc.)
- fork or potato masher
- large skillet
- toaster (optional)
Drain peas and mash them in the bowl.
Brown half of the onions and half of the garlic in oil in the skillet.
Add the peas and curry powder to the skillet. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned. Transfer mixture back to bowl, scraping the skillet as clean as possible, and cover bowl to keep warm.
Brown remaining onion and garlic in oil.
Reduce heat to medium. Add peanut butter, salt, cumin, and coriander. Mix thoroughly.
When peanut butter has melted, add tomatoes to the skillet. (I have sometimes drained off most of the tomato juice first, and sometimes haven’t. I can’t decide which way I like it better!) Stir frequently, until it is thoroughly heated and bubbly and some of the tomato juice has boiled away.
Meanwhile, slice pitas in half crosswise, and lightly toast them if desired.
Fill each half-pita with some green mixture, some red mixture, and some yogurt. Alternatively, serve green, red, and yogurt in a bowl and dip bread. Alternatively, layer cooked grain, green, red, and yogurt on a plate and eat with a fork.
UPDATE in 2011: I linked this recipe to the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop. Check out lots of healthy eating ideas there!
UPDATE in 2015: I linked this recipe to Healthy Vegan Friday. We now have a second child, who at 8 months old LOVES the Green part of this recipe and ate a whole lot! We also gave her a few bites of Red (too much tomato can cause diaper rash for inexperienced eaters, because of the citric acid) and a strip of pita bread to gnaw. The only downside was that the curry, garlic, and onions made for a terrible-smelling wet diaper a few hours later!