‘Spring Cleaning’ Yellow Split Pea Pesto Salad

Creative Commons image. Credit: Ron Mader.
Creative Commons image. Credit: Ron Mader.

As spring slowly awakens from its very long hibernation in Colorado, my perpetually cold hands and feet are thawing, and I’ve been far more motivated to pep up the yard and home. It’s amazing what a little warm weather can inspire.

Cameron and I have modest outdoor goals this year: landscape our somewhat rundown front yard and put in a small garden in our backyard. Our long-term goals include installing new, higher quality fencing, ridding our property from as much lawn as possible, and situating a small writing studio in our backyard to make room in our house for an expanding family.

We’ve had substantial practice with garden planning and minor property improvements, but this will be the first year we’ll invest money and time into gardening and landscaping that’s on our own property. After clearing out our garden shed, dealing with a plumbing issue, cleaning the house, planting raspberry canes, and taking care of our normal domestic errands, I pulled together a protein-rich salad perfect for Colorado spring.

A big thanks to Ms. Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day cookbook. Her recipe for yellow split pea salad contrasts the heartiness of split peas and roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) with the feather-light quality of spring salad greens. Combined with a cilantro-based pesto spiked with serrano pepper heat, the salad provided a filling lunch that fortified us for the weekend of work. If you’re accustomed to yellow split peas cooked until they’re a creamy soup, this recipe will offer a new way to use dried peas. Happy Spring!

Yellow Split Pea Pesto Salad
Image by author.

Yellow Split Pea Pesto Salad
(adapted from a Super Natural Every Day recipe)
Serves 4 as main dish

– 1 1/2 cups dried yellow split peas, rinsed (until water runs clear) and picked over

– 1 tsp fine sea salt, divided

– 1 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), divided

– 1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves and stems

– 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (or to save money, use asiago or pecorino romano)

– 3 garlic cloves, peeled

– 1 TBS fresh lemon juice

– 1 small serrano chile, mostly seeded and deveined

– 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

– 2 large handfuls mixed salad greens (or more to taste)

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. (I simmered mine for 40 minutes before they were tender.) Drain and season with ¾ teaspoon salt.

2. Make the cilantro pesto: In a blender or food processor, combine 1/3 cup of the pepitas, the cilantro, Parmigiano-Reggiano (or asiago or romano), garlic, lemon juice, chile, 1/4 tsp 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 2/3 of the pesto. Continue tossing until everything is well coated. On four plates, divide the salad greens evenly, and top with the split peas/pesto mixture. Drizzle with some of the additional pesto to taste. (While it’s tasty hot or cold, I prefer it when the peas and pesto are warm.) Serve immediately.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Oh wow! You have done it again. I’m inspired. I’m beginning to be one of your biggest fans. 🙂 Seriously, this is a perfect combination of ingredients. I’ll have to make this too!

    1. gwynnem says:

      Thanks, tinywhitecottage. You’re the best! If you make this recipe, be sure you cook the split peas for long enough that they’re almost ready to break down but still have their definition as individual peas. Your stomach will thank you later. 🙂

  2. This is such a great recipe, love her book. Beautiful pics!

    1. gwynnem says:

      Thanks, Cheri. I’m slowly making my way through her recipes. Lots of great ones in there.

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