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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oh I can't wait to try this one


This is a great twist to a very popular south Indian snack - will definitely try it! Also, by "split peas", I think you mean "split yellow gram" or dried and split chick peas. Split peas is another delicious thing to have in your pantry, especially since it can be eaten raw! :) My mother gives us some to keep us from hovering around the kitchen. We eat it plain, or we mix it up with little chunks of jaggery and a few roasted peanuts. Kids love it, and from reading your blog for a while now, I have a feeling you would too. :)


My love for cilantro was the same experience as Carolina. I also hated cilantro in Chinese dishes, but it waas't until I had a friend's guacamole in which cilantro was added to her guacamole. It tasted so good! Cilantro is widely used in Mexican dishes. Since the guacamole, I can't eat Mexican food without the cilantro and ask for more on the side, I then developed a love for cilantro. Must be the the spices that goes so well with the flavor of Cilantro.


Reminds me of a nice lentil salad recipe I enjoy in the summer. The pumpkin seeds certainly take your dish in an unusual direction. I can't wait to try it.

Winchester Restaurant Guide

I've been lurking for ages, but this was so good that I had to say hello! Also, just tried out your Dad's garlic bread--it was great. I did a little add on by rubbing a tomato over the bread before pouring on the garlic butter, and it was a great addition. HS: Love the tomato twist, I'll have to pass it along to my dad.


Heidi, how on earth do you cook your yellow split peas without them turning to mush? The only time they haven't fallen apart on me was when I accidentally undercooked them. By the time they're tender, half of them have already disintegrated. (for the record, they were as fresh as I can get them, having been bought less than a week ago at Whole Foods) HS: Hi Florence, I keep a close eye on them and make sure to pull them off the heat the minute they are finished cooking. I should say "just barely tender"...


I wanted to say one thing to people who can't eat cilantro. I made a huge Chinese dinner many years ago, and the ingredient in one of the recipes was cilantro. It ended up that I couldn't eat it, though everyone else was saying how delicious it was. So, I thought I hated DID taste of soap to me. A few years later I was served some salsa in which tons of it was swimming. I HAD to eat a bite at least, for 'political' reasons, and I LOVED it. Since then I add it to so many things, and am still loving it. Sometimes our tastebuds change, obviously. I revisited the Chinese recipe about 5 years ago, and now I love that one as well. I repeat, our tastebuds, or senses, or whatever CAN change. That's why I try things I think I don't like at least once a year or so. (I now love Brussels sprouts as well)


JennyMac: Pumpkin seeds are whole, straight out of the gourd -- pepitas are hulled, the outer coverings taken off, so they're more like shelled sunflower seeds.


I was thinking the same thing Maeve - that flat leaf parsley would be an interesting substitute! I love the freshness of parsley... Unlike coriander/cilantro that has the unmistakable taste of soap... :-s (and don't get me started on rocket salad leaves... or sage...) Hmm - it really does look like I have a thing about herby leaves... Pepitas on the other hand - love them!


I have a bag of pepitas in my fridge, just dying to "become something"....this is it! Thx!

Season To Taste

I love all the ideas you have for combining flavors. I never would have thought to put split peas and pepitas together! Love to find ways to eat more pepitas to get my iron and zinc!

Michelle @ What Does Your Body Good?

You have the most delicious and crunchy salad recipes!


Did you mean "made its debut" when you wrote "made it's debut" in the introduction part of your recipe? :-)


For those looking for a cilantro substitute, I would think something like Thai basil would do nicely. Personally, regular basil wouldn't do it for me, but there might be some nice varietals that would do. I seem to recall there being some kind of lemon basil. Or maybe parsley-basil? Or parsley with a smidge of cilantro (really, like five or ten leaves)? If using parsley, I would think that flat-leaf/Italian parsley would be better than the curly, for the taste.


Hmmmmm...very interesting indeed. I love veggie options, & the flavours here are singing to me!


MMMM.......lovely and inspiring. Flavors are right up my alley, but I wouldn't have thought up the combo. Thanks!

Susan Hayes

"I have the unfortunate sensory attribute that cilantro tastes akin to dishing washing liquid." Me too! The first time I had a large amount of cilantro (in a Korean restaurant), I thought that they had forgotten to rinse off the dish after soaping it. Then I realized it was just me...


@Amber - not exactly. at WF they sell them as "pumpkin seeds" in the bulk section. for anyone not living in an urban or heavily Mexican/Spanish area, it's completely reasonable that one would have never heard the word "pepitas". however, this recipe does look tasty and will be nice to brighten up the winter days ahead. how long are lentils/split peas good for? i have some but they are probably well over a year old as i have a bit of a fear of cooking them from dried (they are always too mushy or too hard!)


This salad looks great, I love the crunch. I also love the combination with lentils. If you soak pepitas overnight, you "wake up" their enzymes. Once soaked, they have more nutrients available for the body. We made sprouted pumpkin seed burgers once, and they were a big hit.

Sophia from Kitchen Caravan

Pepita is a Spanish word, I believe, and are a part of Mexican cuisine. Until recent years, we only had the seed still in the little shell. Yet another fabulous contribution to the US from Mexico! Recipe looks great!


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