What is Split Peas
Split peas are a type of legume derived from the dried, peeled, and split seeds of certain varieties of peas, typically the field pea (Pisum sativum). They are commonly used in cooking and are known for their mild flavor, smooth texture when cooked, and vibrant green or yellow color.
Split peas come in two main varieties:
- Green Split Peas: These are the most common type of split peas. They have a bright green color and a slightly sweet, earthy flavor. Green split peas are often used in dishes like split pea soup, stews, and casseroles.
- Yellow Split Peas: Yellow split peas are milder in flavor and have a pale yellow color. They are frequently used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine for making dishes such as dhal (a type of lentil or split pea stew) and soups.
Split peas are a good source of plant-based protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They are often used in vegetarian and vegan recipes as a protein-rich ingredient. Split peas are also versatile in the kitchen and can be used in a variety of dishes, including soups, curries, salads, and even as a puree or dip.
To prepare split peas for cooking, you typically rinse them and then simmer them in water or broth until they become soft and tender. They break down during cooking, creating a creamy and thick consistency, making them ideal for soups and stews.
Split peas are a nutritious addition to your diet, and they have been a staple in many cultures for centuries due to their versatility, long shelf life, and health benefits.
Other Names of Split Peas
Split peas are known by different names in various regions and cuisines. Here are some alternative names for split peas:
- Dhal or Dal: In Indian cuisine, split peas, especially yellow split peas, are known as “dhal” or “dal.” They are commonly used in a variety of Indian dishes, including dhal recipes.
- Pisum Sativum: This is the scientific name for the pea plant from which split peas are derived. It’s sometimes used in botanical or technical contexts.
- Chana Dal: In Indian cooking, yellow split peas are often referred to as “chana dal.”
- Lentil Peas: Split peas are sometimes called “lentil peas” because they have a similar appearance to lentils when split.
- Dried Peas: Split peas may simply be referred to as “dried peas” in some recipes and contexts.
- Pea Soup Peas: This term is sometimes used, especially for green split peas, because they are a primary ingredient in traditional pea soup recipes.
- Green Split Peas and Yellow Split Peas: The color of split peas often distinguishes them in recipes. Green split peas and yellow split peas are the most common types.
- Pea Flour: Split peas can be ground into a flour and used in various culinary applications, and in this form, they may be referred to as “pea flour.”
- Matar Dal: In some Indian recipes, green split peas are called “matar dal.”
- Pulse: “Pulse” is a broader term that encompasses various legumes, including split peas. In some contexts, you might hear split peas referred to as “pulses.”
These alternative names can vary depending on the region and the specific culinary traditions of that area. Regardless of the name, split peas are a nutritious and versatile ingredient used in a wide range of dishes worldwide.
Nutritional Value of Split Peas
Here is the approximate nutritional value of split peas per 100 grams when cooked:
|Nutrient||Amount per 100g|
|Dietary Fiber||8.3 grams|
|Saturated Fat||0.1 grams|
|Monounsaturated Fat||0.1 grams|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||0.2 grams|
|Omega-3 Fatty Acids (ALA)||20 milligrams|
|Omega-6 Fatty Acids||170 milligrams|
|– Vitamin A (IU)||0 IU|
|– Vitamin C||1.2 milligrams|
|– Vitamin K||0.2 micrograms|
|– Thiamin (B1)||0.2 milligrams|
|– Riboflavin (B2)||0.1 milligrams|
|– Niacin (B3)||1.5 milligrams|
|– Vitamin B6||0.2 milligrams|
|– Folate (B9)||101 micrograms|
|– Pantothenic Acid (B5)||0.4 milligrams|
|– Calcium||22 milligrams|
|– Iron||1.5 milligrams|
|– Magnesium||33 milligrams|
|– Phosphorus||108 milligrams|
|– Potassium||355 milligrams|
|– Sodium||2 milligrams|
|– Zinc||1.0 milligrams|
|– Copper||0.2 milligrams|
|– Manganese||0.4 milligrams|
|– Selenium||1.0 micrograms|
Please note that these values are approximate and can vary depending on factors such as cooking method and the specific type of split peas used. Additionally, the nutrient content may change if you prepare split peas with added ingredients, such as seasonings, vegetables, or oils.
Benefits of Split peas
Split peas offer a range of health benefits due to their nutritious profile. Here are some of the benefits of including split peas in your diet:
- Rich Source of Protein: Split peas are a good source of plant-based protein, making them an excellent choice for vegetarians and vegans. Protein is essential for muscle growth, repair, and overall body function.
- High in Dietary Fiber: Split peas are rich in dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Fiber aids in digestive health, promotes regular bowel movements, and may help lower the risk of digestive disorders like constipation and diverticulitis.
- Weight Management: The fiber and protein in split peas contribute to a feeling of fullness and satiety, making them helpful for weight management by reducing overeating and snacking.
- Blood Sugar Regulation: The fiber content in split peas helps stabilize blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of glucose, which is beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those at risk of developing diabetes.
- Heart Health: Split peas are low in saturated fat and contain no cholesterol. Their high fiber content may help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease.
- Rich in Vitamins and Minerals: Split peas are a good source of various vitamins and minerals, including folate, iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc, which are essential for overall health and well-being.
- Antioxidant Properties: Split peas contain antioxidants like flavonoids and polyphenols that help protect cells from oxidative stress and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
- Bone Health: The high mineral content, including calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, contributes to bone health and helps maintain strong and healthy bones.
- Digestive Health: The fiber in split peas supports a healthy digestive system by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and preventing digestive issues.
- Budget-Friendly: Split peas are affordable and cost-effective, making them an accessible source of nutrition for individuals and families.
- Versatile Ingredient: Split peas can be used in a wide range of dishes, from soups and stews to salads and side dishes, making them a versatile and nutritious addition to various recipes.
- Low in Fat: Split peas are naturally low in fat, particularly saturated fat, which aligns with a heart-healthy diet.
Incorporating split peas into your meals can provide numerous health benefits, and they can be used in a variety of culinary creations. Including them as part of a balanced diet can contribute to improved overall health and well-being.
What Does Split Beans Taste Like
Split peas have a mild, earthy, and slightly sweet flavor with a creamy texture when cooked. The taste of split peas is not as pronounced as some other legumes, and they are known for their ability to absorb the flavors of the ingredients they are cooked with. Here’s what you can expect from the taste of split peas:
- Mild Flavor: Split peas have a relatively neutral and mild flavor, which makes them versatile in a wide range of dishes. Their subtle taste allows them to blend well with other ingredients and seasonings.
- Slight Earthiness: There is a subtle earthiness to the flavor of split peas, but it is not overwhelming. This earthy note can be enhanced with herbs and spices used in cooking.
- Slight Sweetness: Some people describe split peas as having a hint of natural sweetness, especially when they are fully cooked. This sweetness can be accentuated by pairing split peas with sweeter vegetables or ingredients.
- Creamy Texture: When cooked, split peas break down and become soft and creamy. This creamy texture adds richness to soups, stews, and purees.
- Ability to Absorb Flavors: One of the notable characteristics of split peas is their capacity to absorb and enhance the flavors of the seasonings, vegetables, and spices they are cooked with. This makes them a versatile ingredient for various cuisines and dishes.
Due to their mild and adaptable flavor profile, split peas are often used as a base for soups and stews, where they take on the tastes of the other ingredients and contribute to the overall richness of the dish. They are also used in a variety of other recipes, including salads, curries, and purees, where their creamy texture and ability to complement different flavors are appreciated.
How to Cook Split Beans
Split Peas Recipe
- Split peas green or yellow
- Water or broth
- Seasonings and vegetables optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
Rinse the Split Peas:
- Start by placing the split peas in a fine-mesh sieve or colander and rinsing them under cold running water. This helps remove any dust or debris.
- While split peas don’t require soaking like some other legumes, you can choose to soak them for a few hours (3-4 hours) before cooking. This can reduce cooking time and make them easier to digest. Drain and rinse them after soaking.
Cooking on the Stovetop:
- In a large pot, combine the rinsed split peas with water or broth in a 1:4 ratio (1 cup split peas to 4 cups water or broth). You can adjust the liquid amount based on your desired thickness.
- If you like, add seasonings and vegetables like onions, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves, and herbs for extra flavor. Salt can be added now or later, depending on your preference.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot with a lid, and let the split peas simmer. Stir occasionally.
- Cooking time can vary but typically takes about 30 to 45 minutes. Split peas are done when they are soft and have reached your desired consistency. If you prefer a smoother texture, cook them longer.
Using a Pressure Cooker:
- If you have a pressure cooker, you can significantly reduce the cooking time. Follow the same rinsing and optional soaking steps as mentioned earlier.
- In the pressure cooker, combine the split peas, water or broth, and any desired seasonings or vegetables.
- Lock the lid, set the cooker to high pressure, and cook for about 10-15 minutes. The exact time may vary depending on your pressure cooker and whether you soaked the split peas.
- Release the pressure according to your cooker’s instructions, and check for doneness. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Season to Taste:
- Once the split peas are cooked to your desired consistency, remove any aromatics like bay leaves if used.
- Taste the split peas and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, as needed.
- Cooked split peas can be served as a side dish, added to soups, stews, or casseroles, or used as a base for various recipes. They pair well with a variety of ingredients and seasonings.
How To Use Split Beans
Split peas are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes to add nutrition, flavor, and creaminess. Here are some ways to use split peas in your cooking:
- Split Pea Soup: Split pea soup is a classic dish that features split peas as the star ingredient. Cook split peas with onions, carrots, celery, and broth until they break down and create a creamy, hearty soup. Add herbs and spices like thyme, bay leaves, and pepper for flavor.
- Purees and Mashes: Cooked split peas can be blended or mashed to create smooth purees. Season them with herbs, garlic, olive oil, or butter for a creamy and flavorful side dish.
- Curries: Split peas, especially yellow split peas, are commonly used in Indian cuisine to make dhal (dal) dishes. Cook split peas with spices like cumin, turmeric, and ginger to create a flavorful and nutritious curry.
- Stews and Casseroles: Add cooked split peas to vegetable stews, casseroles, or one-pot dishes. They contribute thickness and a mild flavor to these hearty meals.
- Salads: Use cooked and cooled split peas as a protein-rich addition to salads. Combine them with fresh vegetables, herbs, and vinaigrette for a nutritious side dish.
- Dips and Spreads: Create bean dips or spreads by blending cooked split peas with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and seasonings. These can be served as a dip for chips or crackers.
- Burgers and Patties: Combine mashed split peas with breadcrumbs, spices, and vegetables to make vegetarian or vegan burgers and patties.
- Side Dish: Serve cooked split peas as a simple side dish seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper. They pair well with roasted or grilled meats and vegetables.
- Stuffed Vegetables: Use cooked split peas as a stuffing for vegetables like bell peppers or tomatoes. Season them with herbs and spices before stuffing.
- Rice and Grain Bowls: Top rice, quinoa, or other grains with cooked split peas, sautéed vegetables, and your favorite sauce or dressing for a balanced grain bowl.
- Baby Food: Pureed and well-cooked split peas can be a nutritious option for homemade baby food.
- Freezer Packs: Make batches of cooked split peas and freeze them in portion-sized containers. Thaw and use them as needed in various recipes.
- Soups and Broths: Add cooked split peas to other soups and broths to thicken and add nutrition to the liquid.
- Bread and Baking: Ground split pea flour can be used as an ingredient in bread and baking recipes, adding extra protein and fiber.
Remember to season split peas with your choice of herbs, spices, and seasonings to create the flavors you desire. Split peas have a mild taste and tend to absorb the flavors of other ingredients, making them a versatile addition to your culinary repertoire.
Where to Buy Split Beans
You can buy split peas, both green and yellow varieties, at a variety of places, including:
- Grocery Stores: Most grocery stores carry split peas in the dried legume section. Look for them in the aisle with dried beans, lentils, and rice.
- Health Food Stores: Health food stores often have a wide selection of legumes, including split peas. They may offer organic and specialty options.
- Online Retailers: Many online retailers, such as Amazon, Walmart, and specialty food stores, offer split peas for purchase. Buying online can be convenient, especially if you’re looking for specific brands or quantities.
- Farmers’ Markets: Some farmers’ markets and local food co-ops may have vendors who sell dried split peas, particularly if you’re interested in sourcing them locally.
- Ethnic Grocery Stores: If you’re looking for specific varieties of split peas for regional or ethnic cuisines, consider checking out specialty ethnic grocery stores. They often carry a range of dried legumes.
- Bulk Food Stores: Stores that sell bulk foods allow you to buy split peas in the quantity you need, which can be particularly useful if you want to purchase larger quantities for long-term storage.
When buying split peas, check the packaging for any information on the quality, storage recommendations, and expiration date. If you’re buying in bulk, ensure that the store maintains proper storage conditions to keep the split peas fresh. It’s also a good idea to inspect the split peas for any signs of damage or pests before purchasing.
How To Store Split Beans
Properly storing split peas is essential to maintain their freshness and prevent spoilage. Here are the steps to store split peas:
1. Cool and Dry: Before storing split peas, make sure they are completely cool and dry. Excess moisture can lead to mold growth and spoilage, so it’s crucial to start with dry split peas.
2. Airtight Container: Transfer the split peas to an airtight container. You can use glass jars, plastic containers, or resealable bags designed for food storage. The container should have a tight-fitting lid or seal to prevent air and moisture from entering.
3. Label and Date: To keep track of their freshness, label the container with the date of storage. This is particularly important if you store multiple types of beans or legumes.
4. Store in a Cool, Dry Place: Store the airtight container of split peas in a cool, dry, and dark place. A pantry or cupboard is an ideal location. The temperature should be consistent, ideally between 50°F and 70°F (10°C to 21°C).
5. Protect from Pests: To prevent pests like weevils or moths from infesting your split peas, you can place a bay leaf, whole cloves, or a piece of cinnamon stick in the container. These natural deterrents can help keep pests away.
6. Check for Spoilage: Periodically inspect the stored split peas for any signs of spoilage, such as mold, an off odor, or an unusual appearance. If you notice any issues, discard the affected split peas and ensure the container is thoroughly cleaned before storing more.
7. Use Within a Reasonable Timeframe: While split peas have a long shelf life, it’s a good practice to use them within a year for the best quality. Over time, the split peas may become drier and may require longer cooking times, but they should remain safe to eat if stored properly.
Properly stored split peas can be a convenient and nutritious pantry staple for a variety of recipes. If you plan to store them for an extended period, vacuum-sealed bags or oxygen absorbers can help further extend their shelf life by reducing exposure to air and moisture.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are split peas?
Split peas are dried and split seeds of certain varieties of peas, typically field peas (Pisum sativum). They come in two main varieties: green and yellow.
How are split peas different from whole peas?
Split peas are created by splitting and removing the outer skin of whole peas. This splitting process gives them their distinctive shape and allows them to cook more quickly than whole peas.
Are green and yellow split peas interchangeable in recipes?
While green and yellow split peas can be used interchangeably in many recipes, they do have some flavor and color differences. Yellow split peas tend to be milder in flavor, while green split peas have a slightly earthier taste.
Do split peas need to be soaked before cooking?
Split peas do not require soaking, but soaking them for a few hours can reduce cooking time and make them easier to digest. Soaking is optional but can be beneficial.
How do I store split peas to keep them fresh?
To store split peas, place them in an airtight container in a cool, dry, and dark place. Label the container with the date of storage and check for spoilage periodically.
What dishes can I make with split peas?
Split peas can be used in a variety of dishes, including split pea soup, dhal, stews, salads, purees, curries, and side dishes.
Are split peas gluten-free?
Yes, split peas are naturally gluten-free, making them suitable for individuals with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.
How long do split peas last in storage?
When stored properly, split peas can last for up to a year or even longer. Over time, they may become drier and may require longer cooking times, but they should remain safe to eat.
Can I freeze cooked split peas?
Yes, you can freeze cooked split peas. Portion them into airtight containers or freezer bags and store them in the freezer for later use.
Can I use split peas in recipes that call for other legumes, like lentils or chickpeas?
While the taste and texture of split peas are unique, you can often substitute them for other legumes like lentils or chickpeas in recipes with some adjustments.