Pea Salad is your easy show off recipe that holds up really well and almost everyone will love! Whether you are tapped for a potluck, or just cooking at home, this recipe makes you look good, delivering great flavors all put together with amazing ease. Keep this pea salad recipe in your file for when you need something in a pinch, or when you plan ahead for a great meal.
In the Seattle restaurant market of the early eighties, certain dishes became ubiquitous for lunch or brunch menus. Of course, chicken salad was – and probably still is – omnipresent, usually with grapes and walnuts which were all the rage.
Tasty dishes like blackened halibut or salmon served atop of a bed of Caesar salad also made appearances.
But the stand out fun dish in the market was one we knew as a Broadway Pea Salad. A rich mayonnaise and sour cream dressing on petite peas with bacon and onion. That is the dish at its core. Since it is a dish best made with frozen peas, the historical roots do not go very deep.
7 Layer Salad w/ Peas
First we’ll step back a hair further to old England around 1600 and we hear about a dish served in the holiday season, called a trifle.
This is a delightful layered dessert with liquor-soaked cake or biscuits, custard, fruits or jam, and whipped cream. Lending itself to a good-looking profile, this dessert spawned a specific serving dish of glass on a pedestal with fairly straight, tall sides.
In addition to displaying a great dessert, these trifle dishes were repurposed for a summer time salad in the southern United States. Called a seven-layer salad, it is likely the reason that salads of the 1950s weren’t considered healthful. That seems a little unfair. Yes, it has bacon, cheese, mayonnaise and/or sour cream, along with more ‘salad’ like components. Still don’t see the problem.
The New Take on Pea Salad
It is the seven-layer salad that likely spawned the Broadway Pea Salad and many, many variations. As a result, there are versions with water chestnuts or snow peas, the whole gamut of crunchy veggies can be made to work. Add-ons range from cheese to nuts and more. Peas have a generic ‘green’ type flavor that will blend well with lots of things.
Dressing variations range from Ranch types, to the simple style that we favor for this recipe. How heavily dressed is also an interesting decision. We prefer a dressing that sticks to the peas, it actually keeps the whole salad together in our opinion. It probably comes from a desire to get a little bit of each flavor in every bite, the dressing binds together well enough to allow that.
Tips for Making the Best Pea Salad
Do not use canned peas. ‘nuff said.
You also want to use the petite peas, they’re sweeter and have better flavor. If you can make the dish the day before, you can use the peas straight from the freezer. As long as your dish is not more than three inches deep, they should be thawed in time for your meal. And the peas stay intact for a great look.
You want to be a little careful about letting the peas thaw too much, regardless of when you want to serve the dish. If left to reach room temperature it is really easy to squish them when you mix the salad together, sometimes becoming too gooey.
Our batch was with three pounds of peas, the recipe is written based on one pound. But it is easily scalable to meet your needs for the number of people you want to serve. It makes for a great presentation to reserve a portion of the bacon and the green onion ends to use as garnish if you are putting the dish on the table or buffet.
For the bacon bits we like the flavor to permeate the dish. Coarsely chop your bacon then cook it. Let it cool to the touch and toss it on the cutting board and chop it more finely with a knife. Be sure to scrape all the goodness off the board into the salad. Especially the little crumbs, they really share their flavors.
- 1 Frozen petite peas
- ½ Cup Cooked bacon bits
- ½ Cup Sliced green onions
- ⅓ Cup Mayo
- ⅓ Cup Sour cream
- 1 Teaspoon Ground black pepper
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- ½ Teaspoon Granulated garlic
- Mince cooked bacon bits
- Slice green onions
- In a large bowl add mayo, sour cream, black pepper, salt, garlic
- Mix well
- Add peas and approximately two-thirds of both bacon bits and onions
- Gently mix until well coated
- Keep refrigerated until time to serve, garnish with remaining bacon and green onions. Enjoy