Most of these great nutritional benefits come from the split pea's membership in the legume family. Legumes are high protein vegetables. But, because not every essential amino acid is a part of legume protein, they need to be complemented with cereals, grains, rice, nuts or seeds, or small amounts of animal protein, such as meat or dairy products.
Some favorite combinations are:
Yes, you can cook split peas in the microwave. Not in half the time, as with some other foods, but in only 20 to 30 minutes plus some standing time.
Buzzing split peas for a minute in a food processor chops them just a little, to expose more surfaces and help shorten the cooking time.
Turn the "chopped" peas into a 2 or 3-quart microwaveable container along with 2 cups of water or broth, cover and cook on high for 10 minutes. Let stand, covered, for 10 minutes, then zap again on high for 10 minutes longer. Let stand, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes longer. Cooking time will be slightly longer if you add additional vegetables. Do remember to uncover carefully, so steam escapes away from you. And remember, too, that the container will be hot.
Most folks know and love split pea soup. Perhaps you've a favorite version from scratch, or a favorite brand of canned or dry soup. Versatile split peas team up with a wondrous array of flavors and foods. Start with a basic soup of split peas and onions cooked in chicken broth and add:
Combine 1 cup split peas and 2 cups water, chicken or vegetable stock in medium saucepan. Add 1/2 cup chopped onion and 1/2 cup chopped celery, carrot or other vegetable, if desired. Heat to boiling, reduce heat, cover and simmer until peas are very soft, about 45 minutes. If you wish, mash peas in saucepan with potato masher, or blend in food processor or blender for a smooth soup.
For a split pea purée that makes a great dip, chowder base, creamy custard, even cakes 1, and breads, just cook l cup peas in 1-3/4 cups water until very soft, about 55 minutes, then press through sieve or purée in blender or food processor. Use as you would pumpkin or squash, in place of refried beans.
Wash and drain split peas. Combine all ingredients in kettle with tightfitting lid. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered 2 hours; stir occasionally. Remove ham hock or bone; cool slightly. Cut ham off bone; dice. Add to soup and heat thoroughly. Wash kielbasa. Slash at 1-inch intervals about a fourth of the way through. Add to soup. Remove bay leaf before serving. To serve kielbasa remove from soup; cut into slices. Add to each serving of soup. Makes 4 or 5 servings.
Tip: Split peas require no soaking.
Note: Split pea soups are very thick and may need thinning. To thin split pea soup heat slowly and stir in small amount of stock water light cream or undiluted evaporated milk.
Provided by USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council
This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.
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This page modified February 2007
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