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Peas, dried

Why Eat It
Varieties
Availability
Shopping
Storage
Preparation
Nutrition Chart


Why Eat It

The basis for hearty soups, these protein-rich dried legumes come in different forms:

Whole dried peas, or field peas, are a fairly good substitute for fresh shell peas although their taste is somewhat more earthy than sweet. They do not hold their shape as well as free green peas and are best used in purees, soups and dishes that require a little thickening.

Split peas, both green and yellow, have an advantage over dried beans: They are as nutritious as beans, but they do not need to be soaked before they're cooked.

Dried peas contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is believed to reduce LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels; and insoluble fiber helps to speed up the passage of food through the intestinal system and improves regularity. Like other legumes, they're also an excellent source of folate (folic acid) and thiamin, another B vitamin. Dried peas also supply some manganese, potassium, and iron.

Varieties

Green split peas are preferred in the U.S. and Great Britain, while yellow peas are favored in Scandinavian and other northern European countries. Whole dried peas are available in some areas and, since they retain their skins, are higher in fiber.

Availability

Split peas are sold in supermarkets and health-food stores. Dried whole peas are harder to find, but are also available in some supermarkets and health-food stores.

Shopping

Split peas and whole dried peas are mostly available in one-pound plastic bags. Check the bags for powdery bits and debris. The peas should be free of both. As with any legume, shop in stores that have a brisk turnover. If you can, buy peas in bulk and purchase what you need. Don't overbuy.

Storage

Store peas in an airtight container away from the heat. Dried peas will keep for several months. For longer storage, keep refrigerated.

Preparation

Both whole peas and split peas require that you pick them over for any debris before cooking them.

Whole dried peas: Soak in cold water for 8 hours or overnight; drain. Start with fresh water to cover by 3", bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 50 minutes or until peas are tender.

Drained soaked peas can also be used in stews or casseroles, where they will provide some thickening. If using dried peas in soups or as a puree, add seasonings such as onions, garlic, carrots, spices, and salt to the peas as you cook them.

Split peas do not require advance preparation. Use them in soups and purees. Split peas require a little less cooking time than whole dried peas. Yellow split peas are slightly sweeter than green, while green have an earthier flavor.

Nutrition Chart

Peas, Split/1/2 cup cooked

116
Total fat (g)
0.4
Saturated fat (g)
0.1
Monounsaturated fat (g)
0.1
Polyunsaturated fat (g)
0.2
Dietary fiber (g)
8.1
8
Carbohydrate (g)
21
Cholesterol (mg)
0
Sodium (mg)
2
Folate (mcg)
64
Manganese (mg)
0.4


Date Published: 04/20/2005
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