For better or worse, here I am—trapped in paradise. As long as I continue to live in this vital, inimitable spot on the globe,

I will continue to seek out the unique…the delicious…the innovative products, services and traditions of San Luis Obispo County.

Stay posted for a few of my favorite things.

About Me...

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A wanderlust at heart... captivated by the California Central Coast. Join me on my culinary and vino-infused adventures as I explore and discover the regional novelties of San Luis Obispo County that make living here...easy to stay...and hard to leave.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

SLO Lackadaisical

I'm a lazy hiker—and a lazy cook. My idea of a great meal is one that requires minimal effort and ingredients, yet produces tasty, bold flavors that uplift both my palate and spirit. The same goes for my treks through the San Luis Obispo hills. Although I appreciate a good workout and a steep climb, stopping leisurely along the way to absorb the spectacular SLO surroundings to heighten my outlook on life is a welcome pastime.

Today my lackluster efforts began early in the kitchen, as I courageously sliced onions at 7:30 in the morning. With blue skies and no rain clouds anywhere in sight, my desire to escape to the shining green SLO hills for a puddled hike prompted me to start cooking at the crack of dawn. The simple recipe that I created required just a few ingredients, with most of the underlying flavor bursting from a few well-carmelized onions.

Later in the day, after my leisurely sojourn up the side of San Luis Mountain transported me to warm fresh air, lush green hillsides, and magnificent views—I delighted in slowly sipping on this healthy, satisfying vegan soup, packed with beneficial nutrients and big flavors. A trek and a soup for the soul.

SLO Split Pea Soup

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 medium-sized onions, sliced
1 large shallot, sliced
4 large carrots, chopped
(I used a bunch of organic young carrots)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup dried yellow split peas (soaked overnight)
½ cup dried green split peas (soaked overnight)
(substitute 1 cup of your favorite dried beans if you don't care for split peas)
32 oz. vegetable broth plus 2 cups
½ teaspoon dried thyme
3 bay leaves
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

This lazy soup requires just a bit of advanced planning since you must soak the split peas in water and a bit of salt, covered, overnight (or for 8 hours). But the rest is easy. Start by slicing onions and shallot in strips. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat, add sliced veggies and salt & pepper to taste. For the next 20 minutes—let the onions and shallot carmelize and develop a deep, rich color and flavor by letting them sizzle and darken (stir frequently).

Meanwhile, peel and chop carrots and garlic. When onions are wilted and caramel-colored, throw in carrots, garlic, and thyme. Sauteé for another 10 minutes. Add a bit of broth to deglaze the pan, bringing up the intense flavors from the bottom. Add the remaining broth, then the peas—and don't forget the bay leaves! Add a bit more salt & pepper, bring to a boil then turn down heat and allow soup to simmer for 2 hours (covered), stirring every so often and adjusting for seasonings.

The carrots, carmelized onions and shallots add a sweet component to this soup, while the split peas add a fibery bite for texture. The thyme and bay leaves impart a secondary woodsy flavor. Be sure to discard bay leaves before ladeling up this healthy, satisfying lunch or dinner. Serve with slices of dense whole-grain bread, toasted and drizzled with olive oil or melted butter to mop up the tasty broth.
(These guidelines serve 2 - 4. Feel free to double the ingredients if feeding a larger battalion.)

A lovely Pinot Gris, a buttery Chardonnay, or your favorite beer would nicely compliment the underlying and bold flavors of this easy, flavorsome meal. ________________________
Chop slowly.
Stir frequently.
Sip repeatedly.
Be lazy.

My SLO hike started at the base of San Luis Mountain, where I casually embarked on the Lemon Grove Loop.

Prickly cacti guided me up the winding trail.

I stopped often to appreciate the stunning landscape.

Higher up on the mountain, this panorama view of downtown San Luis Obispo and the surrounding city provided a different perspective of my usual surroundings.

This lazy SLO day nourished my body and my psyche.


Fresh Local and Best said...

This looks like a terrific soup for those lazy days. I don't think I've ever seen such a beautiful panoramic view of SLO. I'd love to see more pictures of SLO on your blog. It's such a beautiful place!

Jess said...

Ahh A beautiful snow-free landscape! What I wouldn't do for a bit of that right now! We keep getting pummeled with snow in the northeast! THanks for sharing-

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