Split peas are best known for their namesake (and swamp-colored) soup. But in her newest cookbook, Super Natural Every Day, writer-photographer Heidi Swanson offers a tasty new way of looking at the legume: a yellow split peas salad that makes a wonderfully light and unfussy lunch or side dish. The vibrant yellow of the peas shines through, soaking up the herbaceous and slightly spicy cilantro pesto, while their toothsome texture plays wonderfully off crunchy toasted pumpkin seeds. The best part: Though it looks like spring, this salad can be enjoyed year-round.
Yellow Split Peas and Greens
Recipe adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson (Ten Speed Press)
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
1½ cups dried yellow split peas, rinsed and picked over
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
1 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), divided
1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves and stems
⅓ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 small serrano chile, mostly seeded and deveined
⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups mixed salad greens
1. In a large saucepan, bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Add the yellow split peas and simmer, uncovered, until tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Drain and season with ¾ teaspoon salt.
2. Make the cilantro pesto: In a blender or food processor, combine ⅓ cup of the pepitas, the cilantro, Parmigiano-Reggiano, garlic, lemon juice, chile, ¼ teaspoon salt and a splash of olive oil and puree until smooth. Continue blending while gradually drizzling in the remaining olive oil until the pesto becomes a vibrant green sauce (makes about 1 cup).
3. Make the salad: In a large bowl, toss the cooked split peas and the remaining ⅔ cup of pepitas with two-thirds of the pesto. Continue tossing until everything is well coated. Add the salad greens, drizzle with some of the additional pesto to taste and gently toss again. Serve immediately.