Chilled Mexican Pea or Lentil Salad with Shrimp

Chilled Mexican Pea or Lentil Salad with Shrimp

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!)

chilled Mexican Pea or lentil salad

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.

gfJules gluten free cornbreadYou 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.


Chilled Mexican Pea or Lentil Salad with Shrimp

chilled Mexican Pea or lentil salad
  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4


  • 1 cup dry split peas or lentils, rinsed (I used split peas)
  • 2 cups water or stock
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 red, orange or yellow pepper, chopped
  • 5-8 stalks asparagus, chopped
  • 1/2 – 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 Tbs. chopped green chilies
  • 2 Tbs. lime juice
  • 1/2 Tbs. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano, dried
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated lime peel or dried lemon rind
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1 1/2 lbs. fresh shrimp (raw, deveined and peeled), or alternative protein (jackfruit, extra firm tofu or chicken, cubed)
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp. cumin
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
  • corn tortilla chips, gluten-free
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges for garnish


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!

Chilled Mexican Lentil Salad

49 thoughts on “Chilled Mexican Pea or Lentil Salad with Shrimp

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  1. Pingback: Gluten Free Diet for Athletes

  2. I will try this. Thanks for the recipe! Btw., your pumpkin hummus recipe was pretty awesome in living without magazine! Keep the healthy recipes coming!

  3. I absolutely love all the veggies that go into this dish, plus the fact that by adding the protein, this salad becomes a complete meal! Great idea, and it can be made ahead!

  4. Hi, I’ve always cooked lentils, but dry peas are new territory to me and this recipe seems very satisfying and wholesome. Thanks Jules. Sonia

  5. Looks good! I think I’ll try it using the red lentils that I have on hand. Maybe I could use both the red lentils and the split peas for a big color punch…

  6. I made a double batch of this recipe and I had some leftover so off it went to school and work inside tortillas as wraps. Added lettuce, cheese and some salsa. Family was happy!

    • Lori – that’s fantastic! I ate leftovers the next day too, but I didn’t put think to put the salad in tortillas – brilliant! I’m totally doing that next time! Have you tried my homemade tortillas yet? They’re really soft and pliable and would work great with this filling.

  7. I am looking forward to trying this delicious sounding concoction. Gluten Free, Healthy and Tasty too! Nice work, Jules!!

  8. Looks like a yummy recipe. I would probably also sub chicken for the shrimp, even though my kids like shrimp I am not sure I could convince them to try it when paired with peas!

  9. Hi,
    The salad sounds delicious!! I would prefer to try with lentils, and… being mexican myself I would add less cumin and some fresh finely chopped tomato, onion and cilantro at the very end… I have to try that!!!!!

  10. Hi,
    The salad sounds delicious!! I would prefer to try with lentils, and… being mexican myself I would add less cumin and some fresh finely chopped tomato, onion and cilantro at the very end… I have to try that!!!!!

    • Marion – I bet this recipe would be delicious with the tomato, onion and fresh cilantro too – yum! Let us know how it turns out!

  11. Lentils are one of my favorite legume. I have to admit, I’ve never been a fan of most beans or peas which I think is mostly because of the texture. Certainly none of them has a flavor I would describe as unpleasant. About the only time I’ll eat peas is if they are in some kind of casserole. This recipe definitely looks like one I wouldn’t mind trying.

  12. I absolutely love lentils and thank you for posting something new for me to try. I’m looking forward to having something new and cool to try.

  13. This sounds really good. I love split peas and lentils. And I can see that tweaking it to make a Mediterranean version would be very easy.

  14. This recipe looks scrumptious. I will have to give it a go substituting chicken for shrimp. I don’t eat shellfish. :-( I can imagine that it will be delicious with the chicken. :-)

    • Robin, another reader, Lori, used chicken with great success! Her comment is here too – she said she used 3 chicken breasts slightly frozen and cut into bite-sized pieces instead of the shrimp. Enjoy!

  15. If anyone tries this with chicken, let us know how it turns out. I don’t think I like shrimp (although, to be fair to shrimp, I’ve never had any fresh from the ocean, so I’m reserving judgement). I’m liking the lentil recipes; eating gluten-free has me thinking I need to branch out in new directions to up the interest of my diet now that the yummy wheat-containing dishes are off-limits.

      • I used 3 chicken breasts slightly frozen and cut into bite-sized pieces instead of the shrimp ( one of my sons is extremely allergic to shrimp(seafood) so we don’t bring it in the house). I stir fried it with 2 teaspoons of cumin and followed Jules recipe the rest of the way.

  16. This sounds really good. I just love lentils. Do you think chicken would work instead of shrimp though? If not, another seafood suggestion would be great.

  17. Well, when I make it, it’ll probably have chicken in it instead. But mmm… it sounds good! Too bad it’s bed time instead of supper time.

  18. My favorite soup is Lentil also!! This salad is on my menu this week. My husband is OPS #3…. we’ll see if this gets his approval.

    • Monica, I think he’ll love it, because they just don’t taste like traditional peas when fixed this way. BUT … if you’re worried about it at all, then switch out the split peas for lentils of any color. Sometimes our men get pre-conceived notions about things like peas, and you have to trick them with different colored food! ; )

  19. I’ve always put peas and carrots in my potato salad, but this looks simply wonderful. I’m thinking maybe I’ll try this with the green tomato salsa that we like.

  20. You are always coming up with something that not only looks amazing but IS amazing. This is a special treat as it is out of the ordinary. Can’t wait to make this tomorrow for dinner. Love shrimp and it will be amazing. Thanks Jules :-)

  21. Hi there Jules! I have to admit, I am a huge fan of lentils and peas. As they ARE naturally gluten free and full of fiber and nutrition they are used quite frequently in our house. I do have to say, dried lentils are my favorite :)

    • Jill – I also love dried lentils. They really go with anything and are uber healthy. What’s not to like? My nine year old’s favorite soup is actually lentil soup – now THAT’s saying something!

  22. Hey Jules! I am definitely one of those pea skeptics you mentioned BUT…If I were going to try a new recipe with peas to test your theory that “with my eyes closed, you would never know that peas were even in this recipe, much less an integral ingredient”, this would be it!! I am out of town this weekend but will make it when I return and let you know….


    OPS – the Original Pea Skeptic ;D

    • Michelle – hilarious! I might have been OPS #2, but I’ve been converted! Wait until you see some other recipes I have in store! Promise me you’ll try them and let me know if you’re converted too!