Pepita Salad Recipe

A great pepita salad that can brighten up any table. Made from a simple combination of yellow split peas, toasted pepitas, and cilantro pesto.

Pepita Salad

People keep asking me for "that recipe...the yellow one with crunchy seeds." This particular medley made it's debut as a pre-party snack, around noon, the day of Heather's baby shower a few months back. It wasn't something I thought up ahead of time, in fact, this was something I tossed together using components that would eventually make their way out onto the baby shower spread - a scoop of this, dollop of that. It turned out to be just the sort of sun-colored goodness that can brighten up any table, particularly now, as summer has faded into fall. Made from a simple combination of yellow split peas, toasted pepitas, and cilantro pesto, it's also hard to beat as an afternoon snack.

Pepita Salad Recipe

Now, split yellow peas are a current darling of my pantry - I can't get enough of them. Healthy, filling, lovely to look at, they're great all the way around. That being said, if you don't have the time or inclination to cook the split yellow peas from scratch (or if you are having a hard time finding them), canned white beans (or even chickpeas), well rinsed, can take their place with nice results.

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Pepita Salad Recipe

You can serve the lettuce mixed in, or under the split peas depending on how you want to serve this.

1 cup pepitas, toasted (divided)
1 cup 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
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups cooked yellow split peas*
2 handfuls lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces

Make the cilantro pesto by blending 1/3 cup of the toasted pepitas, 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.

In a large bowl toss the yellow split peas and remaining pepitas with the pesto until everything is coated. Add the salad greens and gently toss again.

Serves 6 or so.

*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.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Ditto on the cilantro-- to me, it tastes like chewing on aluminum foil. A good substitution would be great as I've got all ingredients kicking around in my kitchen right now!


WOW, that Pepita Salad looks so delicious. I guess the good part about this recipe is that its healthy.

andy abraham

The recipe sounds tasty! Lainey, I think I'd go with lentils, or some kind of bean as Heidi suggests, rather than regular peas.


I don't know if I'll be abel to find yellow split peas. My regular grocer only carries three kinds of mushrooms ... But it does look delicious. I'll probably try regular peas.


I am also looking for a substitute for cilantro - my boyfriend won't eat anything with it!


Hi Heidi- Any chance basil , or another fragrant herb could be substituted for the cilantro? I have the unfortunate sensory attribute that cilantro tastes akin to dishing washing liquid. Thanks-


I just bought a bag of pepitas 2 days ago, now I know why I was compelled to buy them. Thanks!


Mmm... perfect for fall! I love pumpkin seeds and have never had them like this so I'm anxious to try.

Tabitha (From Single to Married)

Can anyone suggest some substitution options for the pepitas? I love them, but I can't get them here (Turkey.) This recipe sounds divine!


Yum! I bought a large container of pepitas last week for a spinach salad, but I have a ton of them left so I think I'll try this recipe too. I've been toasting the pumkin seeds at home and tossing them into brown rice spiked with a touch of allspice. I made a humongous batch so I've been eating this for the last three days with dishes like curry chicken and last night's "Buddha Delite" -- my version of a Chinese fast food favorite. Pumpkin seeds are awesome!


Sounds like a perfect salad for this time of year!

Fit Bottomed Girls

How on earth do Pumpkin Seeds get to be called Pepitas? Now that is weird! What is wrong with calling them pumpkin seeds?


Oooh, lovely!! I ADORE pumpkin seeds.


Heidi, This seems to be another recipe that will become part of my family cooking repetoire...I can't thank you enough for your contributions to incorporate more vegetarian dishes into our day to day lives. Looking forward to throwing this dish together soon. Thanks a bunch...your American Fan, living down under in Sydney! Kxxx


I am not sure what pepitas are, I live in Israel where we have lots of nuts, grains and legumes. Could someone send me a picture or if they have another name Thanks


I just inherited a bag of yellow split peas from a friend who was moving (score!). I was eying your yellow split pea soup but this also sounds appealing. Thanks!


What exactly are Pepitas? I am sure that they have a different name in Ireland. In the same way that Cilantro is called Coriander and Arugula is called rocket. Weird, I know!


This salad look delicious and what an excellent idea combining split peas and pumpkin seeds. I'll try making a variation of this salad. Yum!


Looks good! If I may suggest variations heidi: a. split yellow peas can be less trying if you can remember to soak it overnight. It then cooks faster. Even soaking for 2 hours delivers relief! b. a sprinkle of dessicated coconut can be interesting.


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