Monday, December 19, 2011

Old Fashioned Cold English Pea Salad

A heritage recipe, English Pea Salad is made up of frozen or canned peas, mixed, at minimum, with celery and onion, and dressed with a mayonnaise or sour cream based dressing. I've added some bacon, dill and chopped boiled eggs in mine here, but it's wide open for personalization.

Old Fashioned Cold English Pea Salad

Cold Pea Salad is another holiday dish you may remember from your grandma's kitchen during the major holidays. Called English Pea Salad, it's more widely known these days as simply Cold Pea Salad, and is a long held holiday favorite, though it's really a great side dish for anytime of the year.

We were chatting about Pea Salad over on the Facebook page right around Thanksgiving and all of the different variations everybody makes. When I had a baby shower to go to this past weekend, I thought it would be a nice dish to bring and get posted before Christmas. Pea salad is probably one of those dishes that isn't nearly as appealing to the younger crowd as those of us who've been around a bit, so to be honest, I was secretly hoping there would be enough left for my lunch the next day. As it turns out we had plenty of food, ate plenty enough, and had leftovers too, so I was a happy gal!

To enjoy this salad, it helps if you're a fan of peas, which I am, though I have been told by some folks that family members who won't eat peas, will often eat a pea salad. Unless you're my husband who will, almost reluctantly, eat peas when I set them before him, but isn't remotely interested in pea salad at all. In his defense, he's not much of a salad eater to begin with though. His idea of salad is iceberg lettuce with French dressing, though I don't let him get away with that either.

A traditional Cold Pea Salad will almost always begin with frozen or canned peas, celery, onion of some kind, and a dressing of mayonnaise, sour cream, or a combination of the two. It's also very good with a sweet and sour dressing of vinegar, oil and sugar, and some folks like it with a coleslaw dressing or old fashioned boiled dressing.

From there, much like a pasta salad, you can customize it to your liking. Pickle relish, chopped hard boiled eggs, and diced or shredded Cheddar cheese are almost always the typical add-ins. I've kept the base recipe pretty basic, but included those add-in suggestions and others that were shared by Facebook readers in the Cook's Notes at the bottom. Get creative, have fun and make it your own!

Here's how to make it.

In a medium sized storage bowl, beat the sour cream with the mayonnaise to loosen it, adding the sugar, salt and pepper; set aside. Cook the bacon, crumble and set aside. Reserve a teaspoon for garnish. Add the peas to the dressing.

Add the cheese and celery.

Add the red or green onion, dill and bacon.

Gently fold ingredients into the dressing and add chopped egg if using. Once mixed, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, allowing 30 minutes for salad to come to room temperature before serving. Transfer to a pretty serving dish and garnish.

Recipe: Old Fashioned Cold English Pea Salad

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 00 min
Total time: 15 min
Yield: About 6 to 8 servings


For the Dressing:
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/8 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon white or black pepper, or to taste
For the Salad:
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 (18 to 20 ounce) bag frozen petit pois or baby sweet peas, thawed
  • 1/2 cup cubed cheese (such as cheddar)
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion, or sliced green onions
  • 2 large hard-boiled eggs, chopped, optional
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh dill

For the dressing, beat the sour cream with the mayonnaise in the bottom of a lidded, medium size storage bowl, adding the sugar, salt and pepper; set aside. Cook the bacon, crumble and set aside, reserving a teaspoon for garnish.

Add the peas, cheese, celery and green onion. Reserve a sprig of dill and slice of boiled egg if using, for garnish. Add the dill and crumbled bacon. Gently fold ingredients into the dressing and add chopped egg if using. Once mixed, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, allowing 30 minutes for salad to come to room temperature before serving. Transfer to a pretty serving dish and garnish.

Cook's Notes: I used Pictsweet Deluxe brand frozen baby sweet peas. May also substitute two well drained cans of peas; I recommend Petit Pois or LeSueur peas though common green peas are also fine. If using canned, drain well and wait to add them at the end instead, tossing gently so as not to mash the peas. May substitute chopped yellow onion for the red or green onion and can also substitute all mayonnaise or all sour cream. I also like to add a tablespoon of Ranch dressing, or about 1/3 of a packet of the dry seasoning.

Optional Add-ins: Diced apple, chopped cashews, pecans or walnuts, chopped boiled eggs, chopped pickles or pickle relish, diced firm tomato, diced ham, chopped bell pepper, and/or chopped pimento.

Optional Sweet and Sour Dressing: Combine 1-1/2 cups of granulated sugar, with 1 cup of vinegar and 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan. Bring to a boil until sugar is well dissolved. Pour dressing over the salad, mix well and chill several hours or overnight.


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on December 19, 2011

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