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A Healthy, Vegan Split Pea Dal Recipe

Photo by Sarah Anne Ward / Prop Styling by Paola Andrea / Food Styling by Maggie Ruggiero

Courtesy Bryan Oliver, Chef de Cuisine at Little Saint, Healdsburg, CA

Little Saint, Sonoma’s new plant-based restaurant and wine shop from SingleThread owners Kyle and Katina Connaughton, serves dishes that evoke comfort-food classics while focusing on community and the environment. This springy riff on split pea soup comes to life when paired with Grüner Veltliner. The dish can be served as is, or with fresh flatbread or basmati rice.

Chef Oliver likes rice bran oil for its high smoke point, but any neutral oil can be used, such as grapeseed, peanut or canola.

How to Make Split Pea Dal with Pea Tendrils, Coconut Milk, Sunflower Seeds and Opal Basil

6 tablespoons rice bran oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, grated
1 2-inch piece ginger, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups green split peas, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted and ground
2 makrut lime leaves (optional)
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
4 cups light vegetable broth
8 ounces pea tendrils
1 pound sugar snap peas, stems and strings removed
¼ cup toasted and salted sunflower seeds, for garnish
½ bunch opal basil, leaves picked, for garnish
Edible pea blossoms, optional, for garnish
2 limes, cut into 6 wedges each, for garnish


To make the split pea dal, heat 4 tablespoons oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, half the garlic, half the ginger and salt and cook for about 5 minutes or until translucent. Add split peas, coriander, lime leaves, coconut milk and broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 35–45 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to ensure the bottom of the pan doesn’t stick.

When split peas are almost done, add additional salt to taste, if necessary. Add pea tendrils and stir for 2–3 minutes to wilt. The finished dal should have a creamy texture akin to a thick soup or gravy; add additional water or broth to achieve proper consistency. Keep covered over low heat until ready to serve.

For the snap peas, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add remaining garlic and ginger, fry for 1 minute, then add snap peas and cook for 3 minutes, until cooked through but still crisp. Add 1 tablespoon water, which will slightly steam the peas as it evaporates.

To serve, spoon the split pea dal into wide bowls or a serving platter and distribute the snap peas over the top. Garnish with sunflower seeds, basil and pea flowers if using, with limes served on the side. Serves 4 as a main, 6 as an appetizer.

Wine Pairing

Barbara Öhlzelt 2020 Grüner Leader (Kamptal). “This female-owned, organically farmed Austrian winery makes a vibrant and crisp expression of Grüner Veltliner in a liter bottle,” says Little Saint Wine Director Alexandra Sarovich. “At Little Saint, we focus on producers lessening their impact on the earth, and this larger-format bottle is another way Barbara Öhlzelt is doing just that. The Thai green-curry flavors of the dal allow the wine’s floral and herbal notes to shine through. Barbara’s lighter style of Grüner still has texture and weight to stand up to the creaminess of the coconut milk while complimenting the fresh pea flavors that really speak to spring.”

This article originally appeared in the May 2022 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine. Click here to subscribe today!