You won’t believe the things I found in my crisper drawer on Saturday.

Let’s just say it is the place where cucumbers go to die.

And turn to mush.

And leak their mush all over every other vegetable in a very sadistic, “IF I’M GOING DOWN, I’M TAKING YOU DOWN WITH ME!” kind of way.

They are so self-involved, it’s unbelievable.


So I spent Saturday on my hands and knees, heavy duty rubber gloves in tow, disinfecting my crisper with a toothbrush.  You just don’t know where those cucumbers have been or what diseases they’ve contracted along the way. Do you think it’s just a coincidence that they’re so phallic-ly shaped?  Do you want to give yourself and everyone you cook for syphilis just because a cucumber decided to explode in your fridge?  I think not.

While I was digging around in there, I discovered three eggplants, a bunch of spinach and a bell pepper that all needed my immediate love and attention.  And since I’m officially knee-deep in marathon training, it seemed that pasta was the way to go.

Who am I kidding.  Pasta is always the way to go.


I bookmarked this pasta dish from not one, but two of my favorite sites, about a decade ago.  With the warming spices of cinnamon and saffron, it calmed me down after the cold chill that the cucumber “situation” had sent down my spine.  Though the original recipe called for beef or lamb, I merely omitted it, adding in the spinach and bell pepper I had found to bulk up the sauce.  While you can feel free to add the meat back in, I don’t think it’s necessary.  This dish was satisfying enough as is and hearty enough to put the warmth back in your bones and the spring back in your step.  Which, I think, is what we all need after the infamous cucumber invasion of 2011.


Persian Saffron-Spiced Pasta with Split Peas
Serves 4, adapted from Got No Milk and Once Upon A Feast


  • 1 cup yellow split peas, sorted and rinsed
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch spinach, chopped
  • 3 small eggplants or 1 large eggplant, diced finely
  • 1 bell pepper, diced finely
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads
  • 19 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 8 oz penne


  1. Cook the split peas in a large saucepan in 3 cups salted water. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. In a separate pot, bring salted water to a boil for the pasta.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet and add onions.  Saute over medium heat until soft (5-7 minutes).  Add in the spinach and cook until wilted.  Add the eggplant and bell pepper, as well as salt and pepper to taste, and mix well.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant begins to soften, 5-6 minutes.  Add the cinnamon, saffron, and tomatoes.  Mix well, cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.
  3. Mix the tomato paste with 1/4 cup water and add to the eggplant sauce.  Fold in the cooked split peas and simmer, covered for 5-10 minutes so that the flavors meld.  Add the lemon juice and taste for seasonings.
  4. Cook pasta according to instructions.  Drain and mix with the split pea sauce.  Serve

I am submitting this to:
Meatless Mondays hosted by Chaya of My Sweet and Savory
Maniac Meatless Mondays hosted by Rebecca Jean of Midnight Maniac
Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Simona of Briciole


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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84 Responses to Persian Saffron-Spiced Pasta with Split Peas

  1. Simply Life says:

    Oh this looks great – I’m so jealous because a food processor is exactly what I would want!!!…Or a pasta maker for my Kitchen Aid 🙂

  2. Iould love a pasta maker for my kitchen aid!
    Thsi pasta dish looks so amazing and if i had a pasta maker–!

  3. OohLookBel says:

    Gosh, this site has such amazing medical facts (I didn’t realise the link between cucumbers and syphilis!). And delicious pasta recipes as well – the eggplant, split peas and saffron all sound incredible.

  4. Candace says:

    You have created another amazing dish! What is up with the dead cukes in the crisper?! I found some dead ones in my fridge too this weekend. It’s an epidemic, I think. Congratulations on receiving that wonderful gift! I am dreaming of a big girl food processor someday. I love my mini chopper; but it just can’t work as hard I need it to sometimes. Have a great week!

  5. Were you trying to make the cucumber version of sauerkraut:)

  6. Yasmeen says:

    Lets talk about exploding with laughter about all those phallic references… I’m 26, whatever, I can laugh about it 🙂

    Another great recipe with unique flavors.

  7. Lora says:

    Wow love the saffron flavor in this dish. You crack me up with the diseased cucumber story.

  8. You are hilarious! I love the saffron in the dish. Saffron always makes things better doesn’t it? The split peas are a nice and fun new addition I don’t usually think to use!

  9. Elizabeth says:

    I’m so sad you’re not a cucumber fan! Phallic veggies aside, pasta with split peas definitely sounds like a training-appropriate meal.

  10. Johanna GGG says:

    sadly cucumbers make more sense to me than split peas – at least you know that cucumbers will just give up all the juice and go limp – I don’t quite understand the moment between hard and mush with split peas – tried it the other day and got mush so am interested to see how you did it

  11. Liz V says:

    This dish looks fabulous!! I most wish for a Kitchen Aid mixer so I can make EVERYTHING delicious in my kitchen! 🙂

  12. This looks great. So many things here that I’ve never combined or tried before! Lentils and pasta? That sounds so interesting, I’m going to have to try it. Hopefully I’ll get to it before a full decade passes though.

    I seriously need a quality mandoline for my kitchen. I bought what I thought would be a good one earlier this year. However, day one of using it to to slice a million squash for my dehydrator about killed the V blade. Tragic, right? Have pity on me, lovely Fairy Hobmother. I so need to slice and dice with precision!

  13. Lucky you! Believe it or not, I thought my food processor was kaput, but it mysteriously came back to life a few weeks ago. Yay!

    My toaster oven, however, is another story. I could really use a new one (a fancier one with a convection setting, of course). It’s on its last legs 🙁

  14. Sorry to hear about your crisper drawer!! I’ve had that happen! Dang those phallic shaped veggies!

    Nice on the hobfairy, visits are always welcome! I need a new microwave as ours turns off every 22 seconds.

  15. A fabulous dish! That combination of ingredients is awesome. Yummy.



  16. Oh how interesting. 🙂 I never think of combining starches with pasta – but this looks lovely. 🙂

  17. LOLOL! “you don’t know where those cucumbers have been…” Those are some badass partying cukes then.
    You crack me up girl.
    A toothbrush eh? I should hire you.

  18. Corina says:

    This looks great for marathon training. I have a bag of yellow split peas sitting unused in my cupboard as I always seem to opt for lentils instead. I need to make myself find more interesting ways of using them like this.

  19. It’s been ages that I want to try the combination of pasta and legumes!Your pasta dish looks so good, especially with the flavours saffron & cinnamon!

  20. Miriam says:

    This is a beautiful meal Joanne. Sorry about the cucumbers (may they rest in peace).
    :), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  21. Your cucumber story sounds hilarious, but if I had been involved in cleaning it up, I probably would have retched. Yup.
    And Oh Fairy Hobmother, would you consider sending me a juicer? I’ve heard that starting the day with a vegetable juice cures pretty much everything (my friend with rheumatoid arthritis says so!), and I would love to put it to good use in my life!

  22. Vanessa says:

    I’ve always wanted a Kitchen Aide mixer. But perhaps I should start with the basics like a good knife set and a pasta strainer.

    This looks really yummy!

  23. Lexi says:

    It seems like the cucumber harvest at Stoneledge has slowed down some, but I’ve found a summer salad recipe you might enjoy next time we’re overloaded:
    white rice mixed with chopped cucumber, fresh herbs (dill, parsley, & mint are the suggestions), scallions, white wine vinegar, olive oil, and plain yogurt. Courtesy of Deborah Madison, vegetable goddess.
    Meanwhile, I also have some spinach and a bell pepper that need to be used–this pasta dish sounds perfect!

  24. So sorry about the cucumber fiasco. I’ve had similar battles with produce in the past. I’m loving the sound of this pasta, though. I bought a jar of saffron on whim a few weeks ago and it’s been just waiting for this recipe.

    Congrats on your new food processor. If the fairy hobmother could get me a blender, I’d be eternally grateful. Right now we are borrowing my husband’s grandmother’s and I feel guilty about it.

  25. Cinnamon and pasta? Way weird! Have you had Cincinatti chili? That has cinnamon too, also weird, but very good.

  26. Saffron & lentils in pasta–thats something I wud have never thought but it sounds over the top! A very beautiful but unique dish! I think I face the same situation of rotting veggies at the end of every week.

  27. Cara says:

    Ha! Our produce drawer is quite similar to yours. My darling hubs is great at putting groceries away, but not at taking out the old stuff first (well, and I just figure, if he’s the putter-awayer, shouldn’t he also be the thrower-outer?)

  28. brocstar says:

    Ooh.. pie crust! My man wants me to make some apple pie because I recently discovered there is a green apple tree in our yard. (What can I say- they blend in with the leaves.) I’ve experimented with many pie crusts but have not found the “perfect” one yet.

  29. megcjones says:

    haha, this is hilarious. cucumbers really do ruin everything – i went through the exact same thing last week. i love my food processor, but my big fantasy right now is a pasta machine attachment for my kitchenaid. we used one in culinary class last week and i’ve been obsessed ever since 🙂

  30. Damm that crisper (waving fists in air) it got you too, lol
    Love the new food processro, I would love, swoon, to have a pasta machine for my KA!!

    have a great week!

  31. That Girl says:

    This does seem to be a fabulous pasta dish!

  32. Amy says:

    I feel you on the cucumbers. I need to stop buying them so far in advance of using them. Like bananas. Nonetheless, this dish is what you came up with after cleaning out your crisper drawer? Dude. Want to clean out mine?

    SO happy The Fairy Hobmother granted your wish. You and Lisa…my favorites! YAY.

  33. Jeanette says:

    I hear you on those cucumbers – it seems they turn from being nice and firm to slimy and gross the next day. Love this meatless pasta dish, great way to use to up all those CSA veggies.

  34. Kim says:

    Being visited by the Fairy Hobmother makes up for the whole cucumber debacle.

    And I definitely agree with you on this pasta dish. It’s so hearty you’d never miss the meat. Looks gorgeous!

    I think if the hobmother visited me I’d like to get a meat grinder so I could grind my own meat. I’m done buying ground meat from the store. You never know what’s in that stuff.

  35. tigerfish says:

    Thanks for reminding me that I have half a cucumber left in my crisper drawer too!

    I don’t think I will miss the meat in this exotic aromatic pasta dish.

  36. Dawn says:

    I hate it when those pesky cucumbers get out of hand. They are such rabble-rousers. Whoa. Where did that word come from? Rabble-rouser. It just totally popped out. I think I’ll use that one more often. And yes. I am in agreement. Everything is better with pasta and it is perfect for every situation.

  37. Megan says:

    The horrors I find in my crisper are equally…well, horrifying! This looks excellent, though!

  38. Cucumbers are such rebels, right? Hate when they decide to do those nasty things! Yummy pasta Joanne, you made me hungry.

    Your new food processor looks amazing! I wish I had one of those babies to help me out in the kitchen.

    Camila Faria

  39. Adrienne says:

    Your photos look good enough to eat. I’m stashing this as a must make recipe. And I feel you on unfortunate produce explosions. Can you say leaving peaches in a wire basket for over a week is the world’s worst idea. Hello, furry green mess.

  40. Ruth says:

    As usual, I love your intros to great dishes… gross cucumbers, second only to gross zucchini, but same story. I need a bowlful of your pasta … which is a great adaptation of one I posted. Thanks for the link and for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights this week.

    As for appliances, my electric Griddler is dying an untimely death ;-(

  41. I’ve been in that same gross situation in the crisper drawer on way too many occasions that I care to admit! Luckily, you were able to save some veggies to use in this great pasta dish.

    Congratulations on the new food processor – wow! I’ve been yearning for a bread machine for quite some time.

  42. Hannah says:

    Your cucumbers have such personality. 😉 Too bad they bring such grief!

    Love the sound of your pasta creation, and yes, pasta is always a good idea. I think I’ll give it a try- With zucchini standing in for the eggplant, of course.

  43. What a beautiful and unique dish, Joanne. And as usual, beautifully photographed~
    And how lucky for you to get a visit from the Fairy Hobmother! A food processor is such a great kitchen staple to have, it always comes in handy around here.
    And if the Fairy Hobmother is reading this, a range cooker would be nice…Just saying 😀

    Have a wonderful week,

  44. An immersion blender! Soup season is on the way!

  45. i feel you on the cucumber. mushy cucumbers are the nastiest thing ever!

  46. Oh Joanne, I am SO glad that there is someone else out there that has mush, icky cukes in their frig and ADMITS IT! You are way too cool! Oh and adding the saffron to the pasta is fabuloso! If Fairy Hobmother I would be ever so grateful for an espresso/cappucino machine! I’d love to serve the real deal to my friends and fam!

  47. The crisper drawer scenario made me chuckle. Mine was forgotten potatoes after a month of traveling in Europe. That cleanup was rough.

  48. Anonymous says:

    I would LOVE a toaster oven for our tiny D.C. apartment–it’s way to hot here to turn on the real oven, and a toaster oven would really expand the foods I can make for my husband. Microwaved chicken strips are NOT cutting it!

    tjw28 (at) georgetown (dot) edu

  49. Gloria says:

    Joanne this look amazing, love chickpeas ,gloria

  50. daphne says:

    OH MY! Who would have thought to use splitpeas in PASTA? genius Joanne!!

  51. This looks delicious and really hearty. Perfect meal to sit and wach tv 🙂 lol. Wel don on your food processor. We are desperate need of a belnder/food processor after ours died and started smoking up (it wasnt me!! lol) about 5 months ago. I miss it 🙁

  52. Pam says:

    Another creative and delicious dish! I can never have enough knives or Dutch ovens.

  53. Victoria says:

    I need a Fairy Hobmother!! First of all, love your use of the forgotten veggies in your crisper. Pasta really is the way to go 100% of the time 😉 Now, if I could have one kitchen wish granted, I would want a set of 6 Wusthof Classic steak knives to complete my beautiful set… the other knives are so lonely… booooo!!!

  54. Wonderful pasta, very healthy with all the vegetables, and terrific flavors with cinnamon and saffron.

  55. Lori says:

    Oh, I hate it when I lose things in the crisper. On the other hand, lately I’ve found a few things that have lasted a surprisingly long time. Love the idea of the pasta with the split peas!

  56. bellini says:

    The pasta is amazing Joanne, but to beat this heat I really need a new ice cream maker. I crank and crank and by the time I have ice cream it could be days later:D

  57. Brilliant combo…I wonder if I can use chick peas…

  58. kathy says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  59. polwig says:

    Really how cool? I would love an ice cream machine. I want one but can not justify buying one for myself. Every summer I see blog upon blog doing their own amazing ice cream and I want one, then I go and buy a pint or two or three and am happy with no work involved. However IF I had one I am certain Amazing ice cream would magically appear, thank to FairyHobmother no doubt.

  60. Lisa D. says:

    Fantastic! I know all too well how it feels to find the odd, shriveled, horrifying cucumber in the crisper.

    And Fairy Hobmother . . . I would love an ice cream maker to take full advantage of fall flavors! Pumpkin, ginger, and caramel . . .

  61. teresa says:

    i absolutely love how you make your meatless dishes look so hearty! i could happily dive into this and not miss meat for a second. i just love the flavors.

    bummer about the cuke. i love cucumbers, but i swear sometimes they go bad the day after i buy them.

  62. Another beautiful vegetarian pasta recipe! Thanks for sharing

  63. Claudie says:

    Joanne, I love all your posts, but this one had me literally “laughing out loud” within 10 seconds at “If I’m going down, I’m taking you down with me!”. I almost chocked trying not to wake up everyone around!! 🙂
    And of course – as usual, your recipe looks beautiful! I was thinking of making pasta soon, so it comes in handy too.

  64. Pasta is definitely always the way to go! Love the warming spices in here.

  65. Allison says:

    cucumbers can be so rude! glad the deep scrub did not prevent you from turning the good veggies left into something this delicious.

  66. Shannon says:

    i have yet to play with split peas. cucumbers- peel them and throw some into a smoothie! very refreshing, especially in the summer… after a sweaty run…

  67. Cam says:

    the infamous cucumber invasion of 2011! Classic! as far as the split pea pasta dish – i have two words… yes, please!

  68. Claudia says:

    You always give me a good laugh, as well as a delicious recipe. Those cukes are naughty indeed, you have to watch them continually.

  69. Reeni says:

    I agree pasta is always the way to go – especially when it’s chock full of goodness like this one! So lucky to have the Fairy Hobmother grant your wish! Dear Fairy Hobmother, I need a small crockpot for cooking dried beans and soups in. Nothing too big or fancy.

  70. Viv says:

    ive many experiences with ‘exploding’ and ‘infectious’ cucumbers in my fridge as well…so i was cringing when i read about your clean-up..brought up disturbing memories 😉
    that looks like an amazing food processor!!! my current one is super old and in a terrible state. time to shop for a new one!!
    yummmy pasta!

  71. Deborah says:

    Maybe I need to dig through my crisper so I can come up with a meal like this!! I love my food processor, although it is cheap and falling apart. So yeah, I need a new one. Along with a blender. And a pasta maker would be awesome, too. I clearly love kitchen appliances!!

  72. I’ve scrubbed down my fair share of crisper drawers, not so much fun. Sadly the fridge in the new apartment I just moved into doesn’t have crisper drawers. Guess I don’t have to worry about any stray cucumbers.

    I’ve always longed for a kitchen aid stand mixer. Whipping marshmallows with a hand-mixer makes my arms very tired.

  73. Way to go on the food processor!! It revolutionized my kitchen! I just got my Vitamix and LOVING it so far..

    Now all I want is a dehydrator, please fair hobmother. 😉

    And yes, why don’t cucumbers and zucchinis last longer in the fridge? They should take a lesson from beets and carrots!

  74. Natalie says:

    is there an appliance that cleans up my messes after me? bc i want that!

  75. wow Joanne, that plate looks absolutely delicious, love the persian way of adding split peas and spinach and all that goodiness 🙂

  76. Simona says:

    After reading your post I had a talk with the lemon cucumbers I got in my CSA box. I will not allow them to wreak havoc in my fridge. You were certainly able to look at the positive side of the episode and make a beautiful pasta. Thank you for sending it to PPN.
    Glad you got a food processor: I use mine quite a bit and would hate losing it. The appliance I dream of now is a small wine cooler, which I use to store cheese.

  77. Chris says:

    “And leak their mush all over every other vegetable in a very sadistic, “IF I’M GOING DOWN, I’M TAKING YOU DOWN WITH ME!” kind of way.”

    I don’t think I’ve heard crisper drawers so perfectly explained before.

  78. Kerstin says:

    What a perfect pasta – it sounds so warm and comforting!

    And yay for a new food processor 🙂 I’d love a new immersion blender – mine is making a dying noise and I’m afraid it’s going to die on me one day in the middle of pureeing a soup!

  79. I love all of the ingredients and flavors in this pasta–perfect. Those darn cucumbers–they can be sneaky and suicidal like that. 😉

    Lucky girl with the food processor. I broke the “thingy” (that’s the technical term) holding the grating attachment on mine and I am bummed–although it still does process OK. Not having the grater for zucchini and carrots is such a drag in the summer. 😉

  80. I hate when the cucumbers do that! so gross. The pasta looks wonderful – I love all of those warming spices.

    Enjoy the food processor. I use mine constantly. I know you’ll get a ton of use out of yours! I’d most like… a microwave. So anticlimactic, I know. Ours died a year or so ago and we never replaced it. I’m usually fine without it, but sometimes I just want to heat something up quickly or not dirty an extra pot!

  81. Ruth Daniels says:

    I just received my Cuisinart Griddler from the Fairy Godmother… now I’m a believer

  82. What an interesting sounding dish with the saffron and cinnamon. Don’t think I’ve ever had anything like that before!

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