Friday, May 18, 2012

Yellow Split Pea Salad with Cilantro Pesto

So this recipe is loosely related to anything that I got from the CSA this week, but I love it and I did have some fresh lettuce to go with it.  We also have an absurd amount of cilantro growing in our yard that needed to be used.  Fresh cilantro is amazing!  We bought one plant a few years ago and it has turned into at least 15 plants without any effort on our part. 

I wasn't sure whether or not to include a picture because I realize it does not look all that appetizing.  But I promise it's good.  My husband tells me he gets picked on at worked for all the healthy food he eats, but he shared this with some co-workers a while back and they asked for the recipe.  I consider that a success.

The cilantro pesto calls for freshly grated Parmesan.  Let me get on my cheese soapbox for a few minutes.  Please, buy a block of Parmesan cheese and grate it yourself!  I prefer using a microplaner, but a regular grater will do just fine.  Please do not buy that disgusting pre-shredded cheese.  It is full of chemicals and other nasty stuff to prevent it from clumping.  Like wood pulp.  I know it's easier, but it's gross and not good for you.  Freshly grated cheese tastes totally different and very yummy!  And also, don't buy reduced fat cheese.  Buy real cheese.  If it's reduced fat that means they have taken something out and replaced it with something unnatural and disgusting.  Calories are something humans created and do not matter.  If you eat real, whole food you'll lose weight without counting a single calorie.

Moving on....this is another fabulous recipe from 101 Cookbooks!
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, toasted (divided) 
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves and stems, well washed and lightly packed
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
  • juice of 1 medium lemon
  • 1 serrano chile pepper, minced (2 jalapenos will work just fine if you can't find a serrano.  If you like things spicy you can easily add more...I usually do)
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups cooked yellow split peas
  • 2 handfuls lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces

1.  To cook the dried yellow split peas bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan, add 2 cups (rinsed) dried split yellow peas and cook for 20 -30 minutes, or until tender. Drain, salt to taste and set aside. 

Yellow Split Peas
2. Make the cilantro pesto by blending 1/3 cup of the toasted pumpkin seeds, the cilantro, Parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon juice, and chile pepper with a hand blender, food processor or standard blender until smooth. Continue blending as you gradually drizzle in the olive oil until the pesto comes together into a vibrant green sauce. Taste and add a pinch or two or salt if needed.

Freshly cut cilantro from our garden in the food processor! 
3. In a large bowl toss the yellow split peas and remaining pumpkin seeds with the pesto until everything is coated. Add the lettuce and gently toss again (or you can serve this on top of the lettuce if preferred).

Serves 6 or so.

Health Benefits 

Yellow Split Peas - Split peas have soluble fiber, resulting in lower blood sugar and cholesterol.  This can also help with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. A single cup of cooked dried peas in your daily diet provides 65.1% of the recommended daily fiber. They also provide a good amount of protein, two B-vitamins, and several important minerals. Peas also include isoflavones, which are helpful in reducing the risk of breast and prostate cancer.  More info here.

Pumpkin Seeds - Also called pepitas, these are a very healthy snack!  Be sure to buy raw ones and not the flavored processed ones you find in a lot of stores.  For men, they can help with prostate health and with bone protection.  Because they are high in zinc, pumpkin seeds are a natural protector against osteoporosis. Low intake of zinc is linked to higher rates of osteoporosis.  They also contain L-tryptophan, a compound naturally effective against depression.  1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds contains 92% of your daily value of magnesium, a mineral in which most Americans are deficient.  Pumpkin seeds effectively reduce inflammation without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs as well.   Visit here or here for more info.

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