More peas, please! The little green gems lend beautiful color and texture to my creamy Pea Salad, a simple but flavorful side dish
sure to lure even picky eaters to the fridge for leftovers.  Pea Salad

 

I’m pretty sure what they say is true – that ranch dressing makes everything better.

Mediocre pork chops and chicken breasts become something extra special with a sprinkling of dry ranch dressing mix before roasting. The dry mix also turns a big bowl of popcorn into a gourmet treat for movie night.

Ranch dressing makes just about anything baked in a casserole dish better too (well, except maybe brownies), and it’s a great way to get your kids to eat a piece of broccoli without the usual sighing and temper-tantrum-ing.

It’s creamy and tangy and full of garlic and spices, and you’re going to taste it in every single bite of my Pea Salad.

Whether or not you’re allergic to anything and everything green, you’ll love this cold green Pea Salad recipe. The main ingredient here is baby (or petite) green peas, basically an English pea salad recipe. (Green or English peas are often confused with sugar snap peas, but green peas are plucked from their shell before eating. Sugar snap peas are eaten with the shell and served nice and crunchy – either raw or quickly sautéed in a little olive oil or butter.)

This Pea Salad recipe comes together really quickly – only SIX ingredients – with just a little time needed to hang out in the fridge before serving.

It’s got ALL the texture too – firm and creamy green peas, crispy bacon and crunchy red onions, tender-perfect boiled or steamed eggs, all blanketed in the salty, tangy magic that is ranch dressing.

It’s one of those salads that tastes so good you forget you’re eating a salad!

My recipe differs from some other classic Pea Salad recipes in a couple of ways. First, mine is a Pea Salad with egg.

The pea salad Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond makes skips this addition of extra protein and texture. She also uses sliced onion, but I prefer to chop mine so the long onion strings don’t compete with the cute little green spheres in your mouth.  She coats her salad with a vinegar and mayo dressing, but I stick with the good ol’ standby. Basically “ranch” is where she lives, not what she puts in her salad. 🙂

My version also uses cheese, which is a bit of a departure from the basic recipe, but many of the recipes you find now – even Martha Stewart’s – has some type of cheddar, either cubed or shredded.

I think shredded cheese gets distributed throughout the salad better, though, so that’s what I use, and I prefer to grate mine by hand. Pre-shredded cheese usually has some anti-caking agents that put a thin powdery coating on each shred, so I prefer not to use that in cold dishes (though it’s definitely a great time saver for warm melty-cheese things).

You will find some recipes for pea salad with cheese and mayo that are similar to mine, but they usually increase the prep time by making a homemade dressing.

These can, of course, be good (usually some combination of mayo, sour cream, and vinegar like the Pioneer Woman’s version), but honestly you just can’t compete with the ranch dressing flavor and the ease of opening a bottle or using some you’ve prepared from that perfect little packet.

You’ll notice several of these ingredients make an appearance in my layered pea salad or 7-Layer Salad recipe. While that recipe is perfect for impressing guests (it’s really quite pretty ;)) and has the benefit of some added lettuce, this Pea Salad recipe is all about the peas and ranch dressing and is a little easier to serve (because it’s tossed ahead of time) and definitely a better choice when you’re pressed for time.

Make this Pea Salad recipe and everyone will be begging for peas at your next get-together. You don’t have to tell them how easy it is to put together; just sit back and talk about all the ways ranch dressing makes your lives – and your taste buds – happy.

Pea Salad

Recipe Notes:

Fresh, canned, or frozen:  I suggest using frozen peas for this recipe. They’re widely available and ensure the best possible texture. You also want to look for petite or baby peas to make a sweet pea salad. Mature green peas lack the same sweetness and tend to have tougher skins and mealier insides than the young variety. Speaking of mealier texture, the canned variety has the reputation for being a little, well, mushy. While you can make this Pea Salad with canned peas if you’re in a pinch, the quality and overall texture won’t be as good as the original. If the time of year is right and your grocery store is carrying fresh green peas, you can use those and blanch them as directed in the recipe. Honestly, though, frozen peas are preserved at their peak while “fresh” have likely traveled for a few days before reaching your produce section.

Lighten up: There aren’t many ingredients in this dish, but most of them can be swapped out for something that makes the dish lighter. You can use turkey bacon or even eliminate it all together. Chopped smoked almonds or your favorite toasted nuts will provide a good substitute for flavor and texture. You can also skip the cheese and use fat-free ranch dressing or even add some extra veggies like chopped cauliflower or celery to amp up your veggie intake.

Cheese: Sharp cheddar is my favorite cheese for this dish. It adds some cheesy flavor without competing with the ranch dressing. Mild or Longhorn varieties also work well. Feel free to experiment with other firm cheeses, though, and use whatever you like.

I add it either shredded or cubed, frankly depending on my mood at the time!

Make ahead: While this dish can be enjoyed after sitting in the fridge for about two hours, you can also let it hang out overnight and wait for your big event (or weeknight dinner) the next day.

Onions: There are so many onion varieties, but red works great in this dish mainly for color but also for flavor. Red onions are one of the mildest varieties, but you can always rinse chopped onion in cold water first if they’re particularly strong. Sweet onions like Vidalia are a great substitute.

Pea Salad