A healthy yellow split pea puree with sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions. This protein-rich recipe is the perfect plant based dinner!
I don’t like yellow split peas. There is something about the way they smell that simply doesn’t agree with me. But this dislike suddenly vanished when one day, in a little tavern placed on the edge of a cliff over the Aegean Archipelago, I stumbled upon a plate full of seafood which happened to have some yellow split pea puree as a garnish. This puree had nothing to do with the one I was familiar to. It was tasty! In Greece – at least to my knowledge – the only way yellow split peas are cooked, is in the form of puree. And almost always, this puree consists of a sautéed onion and some boiled split peas. This puree is called fava, though it is not made with fava beans. In Greek, fava beans are actually called “koukia” and yellow split peas are called fava. Are you confused yet? 🙂
Anyway, regardless how you call them, yellow split peas are a great food to eat. They are legumes, and we all know that legumes are low in fat, especially rich in protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, and gluten-free. According to livestrong.com “as a legume split peas offer more dietary fiber than many major food groups and are a rich source of energizing complex carbohydrates. Split peas make a great addition to any dietary program. A ½-cup serving of cooked split peas provides 144 calories, 10 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of fat, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of dietary fiber, 2 milligrams of sodium and 0 milligrams of cholesterol”. Can you ask for more?
I told you that the yellow split pea puree I tasted in that little Greek tavern had nothing to do with the one I was accustomed to. It was just recently I discovered the secret to this 😉 A few days ago, while reading a recipe on the Greek blog caruso.gr I noticed it suggested adding a grated carrot in the pot. Sautéing the carrot with the onion before adding the yellow split peas offers a unique sweetness and depth of flavor and ultimately transforms the dish into a flavorful puree. I tried it and all my hopes were fulfilled. Yay!
- Yellow split pea puree is plant-based, gluten-free and vegan, so it's a perfect meal for a lot of people who follow a special diet.
- Yellow split puree is traditionally served as a side dish, with lots of parsley, chopped onions and a generous drizzling of olive oil on top. You can totally do that and skip the extra steps of caramelizing the onions and cooking the mushrooms. But if you have some spare time or just want to dive into your thoughts through some cooking therapy, adding the mushrooms and caramelized onions will make this a more complete dish, capable to stand on its own as main course.
- To achieve a fluffy, creamy consistency you’ll have to use an immersion blender or a food processor and really work those peas!
- After a while, the puree tends to thicken a bit. If you have any leftover and want to eat it the next day you can reheat it in the microwaves or in the oven. If you want it less thick, you can thin it out using a little water.
If you’re interested in more Greek traditional recipes, check this baked feta cheese with red horn peppers and tomatoes or this Cretan potato mash with red beans and white mustard greens.
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Greek Yellow Split Pea Puree (Fava)
- 1 cup (180 grams) yellow split peas
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, I prefer olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 small carrot, grated
- 4-5 cups hot water
- 1 teaspoon sugar, optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ pound (250 grams) mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 large onions
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon grape syrup, or maple syrup, or pomegranate syrup
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh chopped parsley for garnish
- Rinse the yellow split peas very well and drain.
- In a deep pot, add the oil, onion and carrot and cook in medium high heat for 4-5minutes until soft. Add the yellow split peas and cook for another two minutes.
- Add 4 cups hot water and when it starts to boil reduce heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for about 40-45 minutes or until peas are very soft and “mushy”. During cooking, you may need to add some more water.
- In the meantime, heat a skillet on high heat, add the oil, mushrooms, salt, pepper and thyme, and cook for 8-10 minutes until browned and fragrant. Remove from heat and keep warm.
- In the same skillet, on low heat, cook the onions with olive oil, salt and pepper for 20-30 minutes, until very soft, brown and caramelized. (during cooking the onions, if you notice they’re going to burn without having been caramelized, you can add a splash of water to help them cook more evenly).Add the syrup and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- When the yellow split peas are cooked through and are very soft, puree them with an immersion blender (or in a food processor taking extra care, since they’ll be hot).
- Serve on plates, topping with mushrooms, caramelized onions and chopped parsley.Eat.
It can easily be doubled.
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