Classic Southern Pea Salad
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This Classic Southern Pea Salad is a simple summer side dish is like a southern welcome for all your BBQs this year, no matter what you're grilling up!
Who else grew up in the south? I might be showing my age a little bit here, but growing up in the south in the '80s, all BBQs had someone's grandma's version of a pea salad on the table.
Trust me; I know peas are one of those vegetables that can get a bad reputation because hello peas? I'm pretty sure, though, most people's memories of peas are probably those squishy pale green mess that gets poured out of a can. This is not those peas. I mean, it is technically, but it's really not. These are the GOOD peas!
Why You will Love This Pea Salad
This pea salad is such a simple recipe to make. I feel like pea salad has gone out of style for most people because it's something "grandma" made. However, I am a huge believer that grandma's had it right sometimes, and this is one of those instances. Granted, I did make a few changes to make sure this was gluten and grain-free, but I also omitted the sugar that is usually in pea salad because I like the freshness of peas without sweetness added to it. I mean, after all, if I am going to serve this at my summer BBQs and I want it to compliment the freshness of everything else I am serving.
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Tips and Tricks
Using the Right Peas:
DO NOT use canned peas for this recipe. The best peas for this are fresh, but if you can't get fresh ALWAYS, use frozen as an alternative. I always pour the frozen peas into a strainer over a bowl and let it defrost a little as I put the rest of the salad together. You are not actually cooking the peas in this salad, which leaves the peas' lovely freshness and crunch.
I prefer bacon when I make this, but my grandma would sometimes switch out the bacon for chopped ham. You can totally go this route too. Just make sure that the ham you are using does not contain any gluten or grains, as it's one of those meats that can be tricky about hiding things (ex: dextrose).
How to Make it Dairy-free:
This salad contains cheese, and while I like it, you can leave it out or sub in your favorite dairy-free cheese as an option. If you want to leave it out, just sub in about four hard-boiled eggs, chopped up. It will add the soft texture that the cheese adds without the dairy.
One of the biggest problems with this salad containing grains is the mayo, which often contains grain vinegar. I prefer to make my own mayonnaise using this recipe, but I will also sub in Primal Kitchens Mayo since it's grain-free and delicious.
How to Serve Pea Salad
This salad is best served cold. My grandmother used to make this in a layered fashion to make it look "extra fancy" for those special occasions. Creating a layered pea salad is simple: just toss the peas and dress together, and form layers with the remaining ingredients in the order you like.
So now that you've been reintroduced to this classic southern staple, give it a try at your next BBQ! I promise it's delicious, and it will bring back so many good summer memories of growing up.
Can You Freeze Pea Salad?
In a word, no, freezing pea salad is not recommended. The reason for this lies mostly with the sauce. If it freezes, it will separate and get grainy. You will likely end up with a sloppy mush of a salad if you freeze it. It will, however, hold up in the fridge for a few days so you can still make it ahead of time. I like making it the day before because I feel like the flavors in the sauce come together more, making it even more delicious.
More Easy Sides
Classic Southern Pea Salad
- 16 OZ Frozen Peas
- 1 C Cheddar Cheese small diced
- ¼ C Red Onion small diced
- 1 LB Cooked Ham or Bacon
For the Dressing
- 1 C Mayonnaise
- 2 TBS Lemon Juice
- 1 TSP Garlic Powder
- ¼ TSP Pepper
- ½ TSP Dill
- ⅛ TSP Chili Powder
- Place the frozen peas into a strainer over a bowl. Set them aside to allow them to defrost.
- Cook and chop the bacon into bite-size pieces. If you are using ham, just dice the already cooked ham and place it into a bowl.
- Dice the cheese and onions, and add them to the bowl with the bacon or ham.
- In a separate bowl, add the mayonnaise with the rest of the ingredients for the dressing and stir till combined.
- Pour the sauce over the meat, cheese, and onion mixture, and stir to coat. 6. Slowly add the defrosted peas (some frost is still okay) into the mixture. Do not over mix at this point, as you do not want to make the peas mushy. You want them to maintain their crunch.
- Store covered in the fridge until ready to serve and enjoy!