The Split Pea Story
Native to Southwest Asia, peas are one of the oldest-known crops gathered in the wild and cultivated by human beings. The ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians all cultivated and consumed peas. “Father of genetics” Gregor Mendel used peas as a subject in his genetics studies in the 1860s. Split peas are the mature form of green peas: the dried seeds of peas are peeled and then split, increasing the surface area of the pea. As a result, split peas don’t need to be soaked and cook more quickly than whole peas.
Yellow and green split peas have a similar nutritional content and cooking time, but yellow peas tend to have a more earthy flavor, while green peas are sweeter. Due to their versatility, both green and yellow split peas are found in the traditional dishes of a variety of cultures. They’re commonly used to make soups such as American split pea with ham soup and khoresht gheimeh, a Persian stew made with yellow split peas and lamb. Split peas were an ingredient in Medieval English pease porridge (of nursery rhyme fame), are found in the vegetarian Indian staple called dahl, and are served as a sweet snack in China.