Dried peas come in both yellow and green varieties, the yellow having the milder, more neutral flavor, while the green offer an earthier, more vegetal taste (don't confuse yellow split peas with Indian toor dal, or split pigeon peas, as these are distinct species). When fresh peas are unavailable, dried peas make a wonderful, slightly heartier and starchier alternative. Dried peas are ideal for soups and stews, as, when cooked, they quickly and easily melt down into a thick and creamy texture that adds satisfying body to any dish.
There are few of us who have not found comfort in a steaming bowl of split pea soup at one time or another. Split peas are the dried, peeled, and most often split spherical seeds of the common pea plant, Pisum sativum. They can be purchased whole and un-split as well, though these take longer to cook.
Peas are thought to have originated somewhere between the Middle East and Central Asia; and, until the 16th century, when more tender varieties were able to be cultivated, they were almost exclusively consumed by humans in their dried form.
Just one cup of cooked split peas provides a full 65 percent of the Daily Value for fiber, making them, like all legumes, highly beneficial in blood sugar management and cholesterol control. Dried peas are also a good source of B vitamins (folate and thiamin) and various minerals such as magnesium, phosphorous and potassium.
Cooking time: Split peas, 30-60 minutes; whole peas, 60-90 minutes
Liquid per cup of legume: Split peas, 4 cups; whole peas, 6 cups
How to cook dried peas: While dried split peas do not need to be soaked, dried whole peas should be soaked overnight prior to cooking.
- For split peas, combine in a pot with fresh, cold water for cooking. Place on stove and bring to a boil in a pot with a lid. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, tilting the lid slightly to allow steam to escape, and leave to cook for up to 60 minutes, or until mushy.
- For whole peas, drain soaking water and replace with fresh, cold water for cooking. Place on stove and bring to a boil in a pot with a lid. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, tilting lid slightly to allow steam to escape, and leave to cook for up to 90 minutes, or until tender.