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This Chilled Mexican Pea or Lentil Salad recipe marks the beginning of my two weeks of pea and lentil recipes. Now, don’t worry, of course I still worked on (and shared!) other yummy baked goodie recipes, breads, desserts and the like, but I usually keep my main dishes to myself. If it’s a dish that has and always will be gluten free, I figure you don’t need me to tell you how to make it. Exceptions are obvious things like homemade gluten free ravioli, pierogi, quiches, calzones … you follow? (click on any of those if you’d like the gluten free recipe!)
So when The USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council asked me to make some healthy recipes for them and to share with you, I was initially hesitant. But then I read up on the health benefits of lentils, peas and chickpeas.
I already knew they were healthy and tasty, but since they’re already gluten-free, I hadn’t focused on them much. Ok, I did make a yummy homemade Pumpkin Hummus recipe, but other than that. Oh, and I do make Hoppin’ John every New Years Day … so I guess I do already share some recipes with dried peas, lentils and chickpeas.
While lentils of any color would be wonderful here, I chose split peas for the recipe pictured because I wanted to test the limits of these tiny emerald gems.
Peas appear so unassuming, but they are in fact packed with protein, complex carbs, iron, magnesium and zinc. In this recipe, they took on the flavors of the seasonings and spices — chili powder, cumin and oregano — to blend beautifully for a flavorful taste explosion in every mouthful! And for those pea skeptics out there, trust me: with your eyes closed, you would never know that peas were even in this recipe, much less an integral ingredient.
You know I always have substitution options in my recipes, and this one is no different. Like I said, I used split peas, but you could use gold, orange or brown lentils … you can also use any veggies you want here, and feel free to sub out the shrimp for another protein you like (I’d suggest extra firm tofu or chicken) or just leave it a yummy vegan recipe. Furthermore, if you’re not into the cold salad thing, serve this yummy recipe to any crowd hot off the stove – it’s amazing both ways!
I paired this yummy meal with my super yummy gluten free cornbread, but it would also be a great low-carb meal on its own.Print
Rinse lentils and place in medium saucepan, covered with water. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are still somewhat firm but not hard (or according to package directions). Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, chop vegetables. Heat oil in a large skillet to medium-high heat; sauté the onion until translucent, then add the peppers and asparagus. Continue stirring and cooking while adding mushrooms, salsa, chilies, lime juice and peel, and spices. Just before removing from heat, stir in the tomatoes and the cooked, drained lentils. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and set aside.
Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add oil. When hot, add shrimp (or other protein) and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon cumin. Flip when the shrimp is pink on the bottom; sprinkle other side with 1 teaspoon cumin. Remove from heat when fully cooked (with shrimp, it is important not to overcook – depending on the size, they only need a few minutes to fully cook).
Add cooked shrimp to lentil mixture, cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to chill. (Serve immediately if you prefer to serve warm).
When ready to serve, spread each plate with a bed of fresh spinach leaves. Top with lentil-shrimp salad and sprinkle with additional lime juice or garnish with lime. Place chips on the side of the plate as an accompaniment, if you like.
Serve without protein for a vegan dish or add your favorite protein: shrimp; chicken; jackfruit; tofu … you get the idea!