Thursday, April 16, 2009

What's in your English pea salad?

I was sitting with a group of food writers from the Northeast the other day (I would playfully call them Yankees, but as it was gently pointed out to me, they wouldn’t call me a Confederate so I should be careful with my adjectives). They asked me if there was something that we Texans eat that I was reluctant to write about and I didn’t blink before I said, “Pea salad.” (If you’re a fan, please do not take offense. Instead, bear with me. )

We didn’t often eat pea salad often in my family and for me it was always the strange-looking dish holding court next to the lime congeal at the church potluck or in the cafeteria line.

I can guarantee that you would never see it here in New York City, and, well, because it’s been out of sight, it’s also been out mind. (I know, I know—how could I forget about pea salad? I hear it all the time: I’ve lived away from Texas too long!) But when a reader requested that I post a recipe, saying, “We always eat it around Easter,” I figured it was time.

Pea salad is a Texan classic and yet it changes as much as the weather on a spring day.

Take my grandmother’s recipe: she makes hers with peas, cheddar, mayonnaise and pickles. But I also know people who make their pea salad with boiled eggs and bacon, not to mention those that make theirs with pickled onions and pimento cheese. And let’s not forget those other weighty questions: Do you go with canned Le Sueur peas, frozen or fresh? Do you shred or cube your cheese? Do you add other vegetables such as carrots or celery? And how do you feel about the inclusion of macaroni or almonds?

As you can see, pea salad is the font of much debate and deliberation. .

I decided that in order to decide how best to eat it, I’d just have to make my own.

I love peas and bacon together, so that was simple decision. And since I’m the kind of person that eats mayonnaise by the spoonful, I was definitely including that. When it came time to add cheese, however, I was flummoxed. Of course, in Texas you add yellow cheese—most typically Longhorn cheddar (unless you prefer Velveeta or American). But the combination of peas and bacon reminds me of northern Italian food, and so I thought that Parmesan shavings would be tasty.

In the end, however, tradition won out over experimentation. I realized that pea salad can be found all over the place, but it’s the yellow cheese, preferably Longhorn cheddar, that marks pea salad as Texas pea salad (that is, unless you make it with hard-boiled eggs, but I’m just confusing myself).

And while I couldn’t remember the last time I had this classic Southern side dish, when I took my first bite I was pleasantly surprised as it was soft, sweet, crunchy and spicy. It was good. I wouldn’t try to overanalyze pea salad—if you dissect its parts you’ll probably be put off of it. But when you add all the ingredients together, you have a refreshingly cool spring salad that is certain to please most everyone.

So, what do you put in your pea salad?

English pea salad
Ingredients:
4 cups of English peas (can be either fresh or frozen
4 pieces of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 of a small onion, finely minced
1 tablespoon of fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup of sharp cheddar, cubed
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Pinch of cayenne
Salt to taster

Method:
Rinse your peas (do not cook, either fresh or frozen) and then mix all ingredients together. Chill for a few hours and serve.
Serves 8.

Notes: Like all salads, this is just a guide and you can jazz this up any way you see fit, such as using ham or chicken instead of bacon, adding pimientos or jalapenos, or maybe adding a dollop of mustard to give it some tang.

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107 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'll have to try this. When I,(a Yankee), was married, my husband was a Texan. When I was a young bride my mother-in-law asked me how I made my pea salad. When I said that I had never heard of it and didn't make it, she looked at me as if I had landed from Mars. I will never forget the look on her face. The pea salads I subsequently tasted were AWFUL! The nasty gooey LeSueur-mushy glop was more than I could handle. Your recipe actually looks good. Of course, discovering that there are green peas other than the La Sueur of my NYC youth is a big factor.

Alanna said...

Aii, this is a salad of my childhood, a standard at every church potluck, neighborhood picnic, etc etc.

Ali said...

I am a native Texan and happliy made pea salad for our first invite to a cookout in California. I was a young bride and still questioned my cooking skills so when only my husband and myself ate the salad I was crushed. I did have to explain the dish several times to people but even then they passed on it. Since I have been away from Texas a while I have modified my recipe. I now use frozen peas, finely chopped red onion, mild cheddar, mayo and Greek yogurt mixed together with a little lemon juice and boiled eggs.

Kate Nolan said...

Mayo, eggs & bacon for me up in Illinois. Well, I guess it's "over" in Illinois since you're in New York & not Texas. Haven't had it in ages... It's been a while since my last potluck, but now I'll be craving sweet peas.

I have a friend I think is crazy because she can't stand peas. I pretty much put them in everything!

Lynda said...

I must admit that I don't make pea salad, even tho I'm from Missouri. I see these dishes at potlucks but can't make myself eat them! The closest I come to making one is a macaroni salad with peas(fresh or frozen), carrots,onion, celery and of course mayo. But I love your idea of using bacon! I'm trying that next time!

Leigh said...

I grew up on my grandfather's pea salad:
Peas, cubed cheddar, crab meat, mayo, and a little bit of celery seed.
I will definitely give your recipe a try

I love pea salad,a bit disappointing that I only get it once or twice a year during the summer.

Brenda in Texas said...

Good morning Lisa, English pea salad is one of
those dishes that I make every Thanksgiving for sure. My 3 daughters say it is the most
important part of the meal. My youngest daughter just turned 30 in March and for her
bd meal she wanted meat loaf, mashed potatoes,
and pea salad. I had to laugh, she must have been hungry for my cooking. Our pea salad is very simple. We put lettuce, tomatoes, onions,
a can of English peas, shredded Longhorn cheese and mayo. Sometimes I do add boiled eggs. But like my dad used to say. Nothing could hurt it. Thanks for your recipe. I'll have to try it out.

Jean P. said...

Oh, lordy, this is like a pretty-baby contest. Every mama thinks her baby is the prettiest. But I'm with you where the bacon is concerned. I prefer frozen or fresh peas over canned (the canned ones squash too easily), and tarragon over mint but I'm good with sharp cheddar. I will try almost any cheese with a sharp flavor, though. Thanks for the reminder.

Anonymous said...

Oh, this was a well timed post. I need to make this for my brunch this weekend. I <3 pea salad and get it almost every time I see it in the cafeteria line/potluck table. I made up a batch of chipotle mayonnaise and should try it with this recipe.

Ilva said...

Texan or no Texan, you have convinced me to make pea salad! Bought a lot of fresh peas today so I am prepared!

Anonymous said...

I'd never heard of pea salad (you guessed it, I'm a northerner) until Elise posted this recipe on her site: http://tinyurl.com/djddbg. It's clearly not a southern recipe but I brought it to a cookout and it was perfect.

Adrienne said...

Hm. My boyfriend's grandmother in Oklahoma made a salad at Christmas with bacon, mayo, cheddar, peas, red onion, celery and shredded iceburg lettuce. Sounds like it's along the lines of the pea salad, but she called it 7-layer salad. Either way, it was tasty in a not-for-every-day sort of way.

Jennifer said...

Here's a link to my pea salad with pictures. http://community.livejournal.com/hot_chicks_cook/1429.html

It's a variation on my grandmother's recipe, though she used all miracle whip and longhorn cheddar, I have found mixing 1/2 mayo & 1/2 miracle whip with the sharp cheddar gives it an extra flavor.

LeeLee said...

I grew up eating a 7 layer salad in Oklahoma! It was my great-grandma's pea salad, and she layered it all in a trifle dish. I used to help grate the cheddar and hull the peas from her garden. She adapted her recipe depending on mood and the availability of ingredients, but there was always peas, shredded cheddar, and Hellmann's mayo. And celery salt, but she put that in everything.

Shawnda said...

We grew up on that stuff, ate it every Sunday after church for lunch. It was Mayo, just a splash of pickle juice, peas, boiled egg, S&P, and sometimes crumbled bacon (if there was any leftover from breakfast).

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Anon--What a classic story! Did she also ask you what your silver pattern was?

Alanna-Yep, I guess it's pretty Midwestern as well.

Ali--I'll have to try the Greek yogurt, probably helps with the fat and calorie content.

Kate Nolan--I could put them in everything, too--they're delightful!

Lynda--You should try it sometime, you might be pleasantly surprised!

Leigh--Crab meat? That sounds awesome!

Brenda--That's quite a b-day dinner--sounds like the perfect home cooked meal.

Jean P.--I love that analogy, it is, isn't it? I think I go with mint because I have that fresh but can't get tarragon to stay alive--though I love the flavor of tarragon with peas as well.

Anon--Oh, yes! I bet that would be fantastic.

Ilva--Go for it, and give it a Swedish/Italian spin!

Anon--Elise always has wonderful recipes.

Adrienne--That does sound a lot like this!

Jennifer--Thanks for the link!

LeeLee--You know, I never have celery salt or seed on hand and I really should get some--I love the flavor it gives food.

Shawnda--Pickle juice? Awesome!

lisaiscooking said...

Sounds pretty great! As soon as I saw pea salad in the title, I remembered it with bacon and cheese.

Anonymous said...

What great memories you have stirred up! I moved from Texas to NYC when I was 18 yrs old and when I returned for visits, my grandma always made pea salad especially for me. I loved it and haven't had it in probably 20 years. I might just whip up a batch this weekend!

Terri said...

Last year I blogged about pea salad. It is one of my favorite comfort foods.

http://nanasfaith.blogspot.com/2008/06/some-things-get-better-with-time.html

Tommy said...

Never heard of English pea salad before. I am totally surprised to hear it is a favourite of Texans.

Your food photography skills are becoming very advanced. You make peas look quite good.

Helene said...

Never heard of english pea salad but it looks so good.

ann said...

I love love love the idea of this. But obviously, being a born and bred New Yorker, I've never had it. I think I'd make mine with pickles in it. You're shocked, I know :-) Hope all is well!

California Country said...

I was just wondering if Texans have there own version of 7-Layer Salad, similar to the Midwestern mayo & peas version and here you go with a Pea Salad post and people even comment about 7-layer. Fantastic. I believe RetroFood.com has a great little Pea & Cheese Recipe that I have wanted to try but I have never made it myself. Like you it was always out on a table near some green pistachio/jell-o salad. I considered it "old lady food"

Carolyn said...

I like to make my pea salad with Ranch style dressing with bacon instead of the mayo and bacon. I also put in sweet pickle relish and a chopped boiled egg. No mint for us. Looks like I'll be "fixin" it tonight. Thanks for the suggestion. By the way, I've lived in Texas for 30 years!

Melissa said...

Pea Salad reminds me of my Grandmother. It is a staple at any family dinner. She uses Le Seuer Peas, Miracle Whip, Water Chestnuts, hard boiled eggs, cubed cheddar and pimiento.

Terry said...

Hi Lisa - I think I was the reader who asked you about English Pea Salad and I am so glad you posted a recipe. The bacon sounds like a great addition. But according to my grandmother-Athens, Tx (age 84 and chief EPS maker) you've got to have chopped boiled eggs. I think it's a rule - kinda like the "no beans in the chili" rule. She also adds finely chopped carrots to hers and red onion instead of white, but is prepared to compromise on those ingredients. But not the eggs. The eggs are "non-negotiable" according to our phone call this afternoon. She's very bossy!

Also, I've seen EPS at Lubys recently and it had big rings of red onion and big slices of boiled eggs.

Terry in Ft. Worth

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

LisaisCooking--Yay--another fan of bacon and cheese!

Anon--Oh, you should! It'll definitely take you back!

Terri--Thanks for the link--looks good!

Tommy--Thank you, though I'm inclined to think peas always look good.

Ann--Of course you'd add pickles, heck, you might even add pink, pickled eggs (which actually sounds yummy and would look pretty).

California Country--I've never heard of that, but someone else mentioned it. Definitely church-lady food.

Carolyn--Ranch dressing would make a wonderful pea salad.

Melissa--Oh, water chestnuts--that's totally retro!

Terry--Yes! It was you! And I had no idea that the eggs were nonnegotiable. When I asked my 80-something grandma about it, she said she didn't put eggs in hers but that's because she just doesn't like eggs in salads. I'll be sure and tell her that in Athens that's just NOT how it's done! Ha! And I'll have to use red onion next time--I bet it looks stunning next to all that green. Thanks for saying howdy!

Lauren said...

I'm from Dallas and went to school in Lubbock and I've seen all kinds of these pea salads but never tried them. I think its the mayo. I like peas though and I LOVE cheese. I may have to try this.

Charlotte W said...

I grew up in the Texas panhandle, and my mother in law lives near Abilene. We make our pea salad differently from each other, so sometimes when we at her house we may wind up with three versions in one meal...mine which is similar to yours, hers, and the one she makes for my brother in law who only wants peas, cheese, and mayo. Boring!

Chocolate and Toast said...

Wow, this is all news to me! I grew up in Idaho and have lived in California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado (and Bucharest, Romania!) and I have encountered nary a Pea Salad. I'm not sure I can get behind the concept, but you haven't lead me wrong yet!

Pastor Dale said...

I love Pea Salad! My mom and wife make it with LeSueur Peas, cubed Velveeta, Miracle Whip, Pimientos, and eggs (I think). Love it, love it, love it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Homesick - Love the stories about pea salad. I cannot eat peas - school lunch program killed it for me.

Now - can you get the recipe for potato salad served at Underwoods in Brownwood Texas. The orange color is awesome!!

I live 8 miles west of DFW Airport - love your recipes!!! Happy Spring!!!

MysticMeg of Bedford Texas

Casasailer said...

I am a first generation Texan so maybe that is why I haven't heard of pea salad.

I still say, nothing wrong with calling a Northeastern a Yankee. I mean...they call their baseball players that...right?

Southern Chateau said...

Hi Lisa. I am always pleasantly surprised at which recipe you will write about. As an East Tennessean, pea salad is a staple at holiday dinners. My mother's consists of Le Seur petite peas, mayo, cubed cheddar, chopped red onion, chopped celery, a little powdered ranch dressing, and a little chopped pimiento. There would be a revolt at the Thanksgiving table without it!

Steve Watt said...

I grew up in central Pennsylvania and my Mom (and family) used to make pea salad too, A little different, peas, onions and mayo I believe, that's one I had forgotten but it comes back so fast. Living in SW Missouri now, I miss a lot of that Amish cooking I grew up with. For instance, I never had a taco until I hit NW Arkansas and THAT was at a Taco Hut. I do like your recipes though!

Terrie said...

I’m from Texas and I love to make my Grandma’s Pea Salad recipe. I made a batch and took it on a family tubing trip at the Frio River … they devoured it at lunch with saltine crackers and when asked what was in it they were shocked and said they would have never guessed. I put canned sweet peas, cheddar cheese, 1015 onion, boiled eggs, mayo, salt, pepper and my secret ingredient is SPAM …. Yep … and they loved it!

tbsamsel said...

Re: Mayonnaise

The novelist Tom Robbins writes about how North Carolinians are obsessed with mayonnaise in one of his recent novels. It's VILLA INCOGNITO.

"All Carolina folk are crazy for mayonnaise, mayonnaise is as ambrosia to them, the food of their tarheeled gods. Mayonnaise comforts them, causes the vowels to slide more musically along their slow tongues, appeasing their grease-conditioned taste buds while transporting those buds to a plane higher than lard could ever hope to fly. Yellow as summer sunlight, soft as young thighs, smooth as a Baptist preacher's rant, falsely innocent as a magicians handkerchief, mayonnaise will cloak a lettuce leaf, some shreds of cabbage, a few hunks of cold potato in the simplest splendor, recycling their dull character, making them lively and attractive again, granting them the capacity to delight the gullet if not the heart..."

DUKE'S is a favorite local brand.

T. (who did not realize that pea salad was Texan. We'd have it at my Okie maternal grandmother's when we visited in Lufkin.)

twobarkingdogs said...

Yikes! The first recipe you've posted that I'm not drooling over or running to the store for ingredients so I can make like a Homesick Texan.

I've seen this salad with lots of variations like pasta or tuna or pasta and tuna mixed in. But then it isn't a pea salad anymore. Hmm.

But, hey! Great photos!

Michelle said...

NOW I GET IT! My whole life my grandmother (a Texas transplant to Kansas City who still has her accent after 40+ years here) has brought pea salad to every family dinner. I have tasted it several times and not liked it once. Hers is frozen peas, mayo, shredded cheddar and bacon bits. Your recipe is very appealing though, maybe I will give it a try at the next family pot luck.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Lauren--How do you feel about ranch dressing? Someone mentioned they use that instead.

Charlotte W.--I reckon it is regional, even within Texas!

Chocolate and Toast--It may be an acquired taste, so please don't judge me if you don't enjoy it.

Pastor Dale--Pimentos are an awesome addition!

MysticMeg--I'll see what I can do!

Casasalier--Yes, they do--good point!

Southern Chateau--Sounds delicious! I'm definitely adding red onion next time.

Steve Watt--Thank you! And good to hear they eat pea salad in Central Pennsylvania as well.

Terrie--Oh, those 1015 onions! I do miss those.

TBSamsel--Lordy, what a quote! I love Tom Robbins. And Duke's is good, though we didn't have that in Texas.

Twobarkingdogs--No worries, pea salad isn't for everyone.

Michelle-Ha! Honestly, hers doesn't sound that different from mine!

KellyO said...

You managed again to write about a recipe from childhood. I guess we really are Texan, huh? Our pea salad (grandfather's recipe, I've always assumed) had peas, longhorn cheddar, onions, mayo and split cherry tomatoes. They sell the same one at Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, and I had to get it the last time I was driving from Dallas to Houston. I want some.

jessica said...

i don't htink it sounds so bad! last night we did a cheese tasting with bread, and the accompanying dish was a pea salad. i just moved to texas, so i did not know i was following some tradition :), but it seemed the smartest dish to put next to the cheese and bread: steamed peas, chilled in fridge, with tomatoe, carrot and a lemon/yogurt vinaigrette. yuuuum
i looove peas.

Anonymous said...

The week before Easter I searched your recipes to see if you had covered this subject. I was craving pea salad, but couldn't decide what cheese to use. I made my fav artichoke/olive/feta tortellini salad instead. I'll make pea salad this weekend with longhorn cheddar. And my preferencefor texture reasons, frozen or fresh.

Reading this took me right back to the basement of the Munday, Tx Methodist church. There was always pea salad, but usually with different approaches as you describe. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. :)

Texann

Anonymous said...

I forgot one comment: Instead of bacon, Mom's recipe included ham diced the same size as the cheese.

Texann

ellis said...

Made this today- yummm. But I'm from Kansas (now in Austin- whee!) and had had it before, but never made it. Will do again, so simple, cheap and adaptable. I skipped the bacon and used up some hard-boiled Easter eggs.
I had it with roast beef spread- another strange-looking but DELICIOUS dish- I wonder if you've had it? It's similar to a basic tuna salad but substitute roast beef.

Pat said...

I'm a full-blooded northerner but this dish really appeals to me. Recently, I've been making lots of Spanish ensaladillas that utilize this basic idea of cooked veggies (often potatoes), other flavorings, and mayo. I can't wait to try this one with a solid focus on peas as the main ingredient.

idyll hands said...

This sounds quite delicious. However, I grew up in the DFW area and NEVER had this. Is it, perhaps, regional to other parts of Texas?

knitalot3 said...

I don't like peas so I would probably just pick out the cheddar or not have any at all.

Love the blog, not the salad.

bee said...

we're looking forward to a big pea harvest in our garden, and my word, this sounds fantastic.

Nikki said...

Pea Salad, oh the memories! My mom would always make it on Easter, and along with the bacon, she would add some chopped Easter Eggs too. Boy, what a colorful Pea Salad with the green peas, orange cheddar cheese, red onions, sweet pickles, and the easter egg colored boiled eggs!

janna said...

I grew up in Illinois (before 20+ adult years in San Antonio), and grew up eating both pea salad and 7-layer salad. Until just now, it never occurred to me that they're basically the same thing, just presented differently. I have to say I don't particularly care for either one!

Lulu said...

Thanks Lisa.
I love pea salad but my mom being European we didn't have it at home. I tried it any where I saw it and they were all great. Now I can try to make it myself. :)

The Greasy Spoon said...

Hi Lisa

Very interesting. Strangely- we don't have this in England. I like the idea of the peas being uncooked (and crunchy). Inspires me to come up with my own version.

Anonymous said...

Pea salad!!! That's what I've been craving! I also had a hankerin' for hot cross buns, but was too busy to make and ended up buying mine in european bakery - not what I remember. I finished HS in Chattanooga, OK - near Lawton. I rememeber the Underwood's there - best bbq as a kid...no such animal in Central PA, all "bbq" too, too sweet. The fried okra, catfish, hushpuppies, bbq beans, cobbler (Stillwell)...I am so homesick. Love your site and all the comments - Thank you so much for the connection to my roots.
robin

RecipeGirl said...

I'm so *smiling* while reading this post. There is a restaurant in Seattle that I visit every time I'm in town, and one of their salads is a "Pea Salad." It's my favorite. I love everything about it... and it looks like you've got all of the same ingredients! Can't wait to try it out myself :)

Wencked said...

being a life long Texan, guess I never realized others didn't enjoy pea salad.

My mom makes her with LeSaur (sp?) baby peas, pickles, boiled egg and mayo, with little salt and peppper.

Since I was the youngest child by MANY years and didn't like eggs, she always made mine without the egg.

When I was living the single life pea salad was often my fast dinner of choice. I would open my can of peas, put in a spoon full of mayo, spoon full of dill relish and some salt and pepper. yummy.

Jumper said...

Wow, I lived in Texas 10 years and did not know it was a signature dish. I confess it's not working for me now, but I will investigate further. On the plus side, it made me think of black-eyed pea salad... now there's something for me to chew on.

And also made me wonder about "Longhorn" cheddar. Where did that term come from, milking Longhorns?

Anonymous said...

I'm a Fort Worth girl, born and raised and just married a yankee. I grew up eating mama's pea salad and just might have to make my Wisconsin boy some real soon. Ours is peas, mayo, onion, and egg with a little s&p. So simple, so comforting... so home.

the new Mrs. Albrecht!!!!

Krista said...

As a Canadian, eh I have never heard of pea salad - but with mayo and cheese, how could it not be delicious.... My Florida friend used to make a pea salady kindof dish for Thanksgiving - it had frozen, thawed, uncooked peas and chopped red onion mixed with sour cream. I remember that dish fondly as it was a great addition to the turkey and fixings. I'm not a fan of canned peas - are frozen peas the best to use in your recipe?

Maris said...

Hmmm...I live in New York City and I've never heard of this either. It sounds nice though, great for spring and the warm weather!

ks said...

I love pea salad! My mom's "Oregon Style" has frozen peas, bacon, tomato, green onion, water chestnuts, mayo, salt, pepper and a little bit of sugar.

Kevin said...

That pea salad looks good! Lately I have been thinking about a pea salad with feta, and mint and maybe some red onion.

Anonymous said...

I am thawing some frozen english peas to make this right now. I have made it nearly every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas and have always used canned peas. I put some finely chopped onion,jarred pimentos,cubed cheese,boiled egg,and Miracle Whip. I prefer Helman's Mayo, but my hubby did not, so today will use the Helman's.My hubby passed away New Year's Eve, so only me and the dog here now. My step-son loved the salad and would eat the whole bowl if he could. He always took any left-overs home with him. Thanks for reminding me of this great dish. Doris in NE Texas

kate said...

Oh, how I love pea salad. Must have bacon, IMO. The salty-crunchiness of the bacon combines so perfectly with the tender crisp-then-mush of the peas.

And weirdly, I had no idea that it was a Texas dish, or that people from NY wouldn't have ever had it before. I'm a Texpatriate, stuck in NC, and while they do love the mayo dressed "salad" (it still being the South and all...), I don't think I've ever seen it on a potluck table here yet. Maybe I'll make some for the next one I go to.

AT said...

You know what's strange? I can not remember ever having pea salad growing up. This is a whole new thing for me. And the idea at first didn't sound appealing. But looking at the recipe, it's like.. what's not to like?

Celeste said...

I had never heard of nor seen pea salad until I went to college at Purdue. I worked in a graduate dorm kitchen and witnessed it made up with frozen peas, cubed American cheese, and Miracle Whip rather than mayonnaise. I saw it wolfed down by the folks from a Southern Baptist convention who stayed at the campus one week in the summer so in my mind it's southern food.

I admit I just couldn't get into this. I like all of the ingredients but somehow...not together. I think it's the cheese-mayo interface but I can't be sure.

Michael Tucker said...

As a kid I was put off by the mixture. Individually, I either appreciated or was ambivalent about each individual item, but collectively, it just didn't work- not for me. My sister, on the other hand, loved the stuff. As did most of the rest of the family, so it was a frequent side dish in our house. Thanks Lisa for stirring up the memories. :)

-MT (ex-pat Texan, formerly of Bedford, Kerens, and Dallas)

Paula Maack said...

With my first glance at your pea salad, an "mmmmmmm..." escaped -- involuntarily -- from my lips.

You had me at cheddar. You slayed me with bacon! And a little cayenne, because you're a woman after my own heart.

Nice!!!!

Cheers,

~ Paula

Doris said...

Well, I made the pea salad ,as I described earlier, but used the Helman;s mayo instead of the miracle whip and it was devine! I had never used frozen peas before and it made it over the top gooooood. Thank you so much!

Starwoodgal said...

I'm a tranplanted Louisiana Gal. I've lived in Arkansas for the better part of the last 30 years. My grandmother's English Pea Salad is a family fave! http://starwoodgal.wordpress.com/2008/08/01/recipe-good-old-southern-english-pea-salad/ Check out our family recipes over on my food BLOG: http://starwoodgal.wordpress.com

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Oklahoma and never had pea salad, but my mother-in-law (also from Oklahoma) makes it at every holiday. I think I would like it w/ frozen or fresh peas, but cannot stand it with the mushy canned peas she uses. She thinks that fresh or frozen peas taste "raw." Ugh.

Mark Scarbrough said...

Yum. Frozen peas, please, for mine. I will tell you that my mother always said that bacon was the way "Yankees" made it. But heck, I've had it at too many church socials with bacon for Mother's opinion to count anymore. And the mint? A divine touch.

thecatskillkiwi said...

i've never heard of "pea salad" being from new zealand and all.... but I'm of the school throw everything you can in.... and hopefully it will work out alright!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Kelly O--I can't remember the last time I went to the Collin Street Bakery--must go next time I'm home. I just love those lacy pecan cookies.

Jessica--Interesting--I'll have to try that.

Texann--You're welcome! I sometimes make it with diced ham instead of bacon, too. And your artichoke salad sure does sound tasty.

Ellis--Roast beef spread sounds familiar--it's like deviled ham but with beef, right?

Pat--Mayo and cooked potatoes was very popular with my senora when I lived in Spain.

Idyll Hands--How strange--it's pretty common in N. Texas.

Knitalot--Ha! That's quite all right--it's not for everyone!

Bee--It's the best with freshly picked peas.

Nikki--See, I don't like the boiled eggs in mine, but they're very popular. And this salad is a wonderful way to use up some extras.

Janna--I need to try this 7-layer salad!

Lulu--Happy to help! Enjoy!

The Greasy Spoon--I think that the English would devour this!

Robin--You're very welcome! And I hear you about too-sweet barbecue--drives me nuts when all you can taste is sugar and not smoke.

RecipeGirl--Oh! Good to know that you can find it up North!

Wencked--Dill relish--now that's a simple way to pack it with lots of flavor.

Jumper--I also love black-eyed pea salad. There should be a recipe somewhere around here for it. And Longhorn refers to the half-moon shape, not the provenance of the milk!

Mrs. Albrecht--Your Wisconsin boy should love it!

Krista--I would use frozen peas over canned peas.

Maris--It's wonderfully cool and crisp so indeed perfect for warm weather.

KS--Tomato--I'll have to add some when we those are in season.

Kevin--Feta would be very classy.

Doris--You're very welcome. I'm sorry to hear about your loss.

Kate--Yep, bacon's salty crunchiness is awesome. And it's not particularly Texan, I reckon, but definitely Southern.

AT--Girl, you're missing out!

Celeste--It's definitely Southern. If you can eat pimento cheese, you'd probably like this, too.

Michael--It's surprising how well everything goes together, isn't it?

Paula--Gotta have the cayenne!

Starwoodgal--Thanks for sharing!

Anon--I agree, it's a little different with canned peas.

Mark--I love the mint in it as well since it goes so well with peas. Thanks!

thecatskillkiwi --That's a good school to be in!

Little Raven said...

That looks really good. o_O I would totally use fresh peas. Amazing summer food. (We have good cheddar up here in Canada, too...)

Now why do you call them English peas? Is that a Texas thing? The only qualifier I've ever heard put on that kind of pea is "green". Other peas get adjectives -- chick, split, black-eyed -- but the default peas are the green ones.

Shel said...

Peas, preferably frozen and thawed, but my mom always used canned. Boiled eggs, small amount of red onion, yellow cheese, mayo, dill pickle. Haven't tried it with bacon, will have to do that. Yummm, now I'm hungry.

becky said...

My mom taught me to make it using LeSueur baby peas, chopped onion, and of course, cheddar cheese, or velveeta, depending on what was at hand. She also always added a small jar of pimentos too. Really good after being refrigerated until cold. It's a holidat staple in my family...here in Texas!

Becky said...

i forgot the mayo!

mrsv83 said...

Thank you for this blog entry! I've lived in California for decades, but was raised in the Texas panhandle. I LOVE this salad, but my attempts to serve it here have been greeted with bewildered looks.

Peas, mayo, onion, cheddar, pickle relish. Bacon, eggs, and waterchestnuts sound great too, although I haven't tried them.

Anonymous said...

I'm 27, lived in West Texas most of my life, now reside in Austin, and have never heard of pea salad!! Is it an East Texas thing?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Little Raven--Perhaps it's an American thing because I've heard people that aren't Texan also call them that.

Shel--Bacon makes everything better!

Becky--I agree, it's so much better after it's sat in the refrigerator for a while.

Marsv83--I haven't tried water chestnuts either, but them see to be popular.

Anon--It's found in the North, East, South and Central parts of Texas--so I reckon just not the West.

John said...

I've eaten this at Luby's every time i've been since I was born. My grandma always had it to accompany fried deer steaks. I've recently started making it at home and like Luby's and Grandma, I keep it traditional. Frozen peas, mayo, baby pickles, cubed cheddar. Nothing less, nothing more.

Kat said...

Lisa,

I love your blog and your recipes. I am a born an bred Texan who is still here. I live in Pflugerville just NE of Austin. Thanks for all the recipes. I have enjoyed them lots.

Susan said...

Hi,

This is my first comment on your blog, but I've been lurking for awhile;-) I LOVE your stories and recipes. I'm a native Texan too. I now live in Arkansas, so at least I don't have to go too far for a Texas "fix".

I'm originally from Tyler (as is my mother, dad is from Houston) and we always have my mon's English Pea Salad at holidays and get togethers. We use cubed sharp cheddar, LeSueur peas, mayo, lemon juice, pimentos (drained and mashed with a fork), salt, pepper and we grate in about a teaspoon of onion instead of mincing it.

Not sure about macaroni or almonds. Bacon and eggs sounds good though.

Anonymous said...

I never had pea salad until I moved to Indiana, (grew up in New Mexico) My daughter makes what she calls "Nasty pea salad" her family loves it, she hates it!

Farmer Jen said...

Sounds refreshing! Thanks for a great post.

Anonymous said...

Howdy HomeSick-

Look at 101cookbooks.com site for her version of Pea Salad. Very different look and taste. She is in San Francisco CA. and it shows in this recipe!!!
Love to see all recipes
MysticMeg

halo said...

Pea salad for me signifies the beginning of summer and potlucks.
It has to have elbow macaroni,tuna,sweet pickles,onions,celery,cheddar cheese,sugar,white vinegar,mayo and of course frozen peas.

Tammy said...

Pea salad! I can't make enough of it for my son and New England husband. My family's recipe is much simpler than yours (peas, mayo, chopped onion, chopped sour pickles, pickle juice, and lots of pepper), but I'll have to try it with bacon and cheese. How can that be bad?

Remember The Frugral Gourmet tv show from the 80s? He did an episode on Polish country cooking and featured a very similar dish. I wonder if the Texas version originates with our German and Polish settlers?

Anonymous said...

my pea salad is very cold lettuce, frozen peas, swiss cheese, onions and mayo...layer it and let chill for a coupld of hours then right before serving..mix it..yum so good

paula said...

Like a previous poster, I was born, raised and lived in Texas for over 40 years and never heard of "Pea Salad". Or at least I've never heard of it as a "Texas thing", though must have encountered it somewhere along the line. Maybe it isn't something seen much in my area (south-central coast). My mother was from St. Louis, so maybe that's why she never made it, and my father from east-central texas (German settled area, so I recall buttery egg noodles and yeasty coffee cakes from this branch of the family). Regardless, it looks intriguing and I'm glad to have been introduced to a Texas Tradition!

ltothej34 said...

i'm a purist on this i guess. i mean i love expanding and adding and experimenting but with pea salad i say keep it simple! please!!!! please do NOT add bacon or funky stuff....the last straw for me was mint. are you KIDDING ME? i am from east texas originally and i can tell you my sweet grandpa got it right every time. his pea salad was basic, tasty and perfect every time. i love mint, fresh mint but NOT in such things like pea salad! so keep it peas, mayo, yellow cheese in cubes and maybe a bit of onion and you are good to go! no corn. no mint, no bacon, just let the flavors of those sweet peas come through with a tang of mayo. i am just sayin. pea salad is a treat, easy to make and easy to voraciously spoon into your mouth on a hot day...which reminds me that the other must-do for pea salad is to make sure to serve it well chilled. nothin' better, y'all....take care and everyone have a great long memorial day weekend! hugs to all from me, lisa in NYC.

Cathy said...

Oh, pea salad. I live in Wisconsin now but I grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana and my mother was from Texas. I grew up eating pea salad and I loved it. Somehow, though, I had completely forgotten about it. Thanks for reminding me. I'm going to have to make some now...By the way, my mother made it with mayo, onion, sweet pickle relish, and chopped hard boiled eggs, which is the way I'm going to make mine.

Kimberly said...

Hi, have you tried this version of pea salad?

http://kims-concoctions.blogspot.com/2009/04/marinated-pea-salad.html

I got the recipe from my sister-in-law years ago.

I'm not a native Texas, but have lived here for 12 years...and I suppose I am more Texan than anything else :-).

Betsy said...

I just came across this discussion while I was debating whether or not to make pea salad for a potluck this weekend. It is one of my summer favorites! I'm not sure if anyone will eat it, but now I feel honor bound to make some for all the pea salad lovers who posted here LOL. I make mine with a sour cream/mayo mix and add fresh dill, minced swiss cheese, bacon and green onion.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that so many people dont know of pea salad. I am from washington and we make it often at family gatherings. Although I should add that my moms parents are from texas.. maybe that is the root. However i have friends from canada that make pea salad also. Interesting... now im craving some. Our pea salad chages often but you need; peas, mayo, sharp cheddar, and onions. Then you're free to add whatever your in the mood for. I like to add some bacon and cajun spice!

Lellie said...

As a Texan who had to live in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan for five FROZEN years... one of the best things that came from the experience was a pea salad made by the Konteka Lodge in White Pine, MI.

I still make this salad, and your recipe reminded me of that! It's nothing more than frozen green peas (thawed not cooked) mixed with mayo or miracle whip (your choice) and a handfull of dry roasted salted peanuts! Dang, it's good! I sometimes add chopped red onion, or grated cheddar, or crumbled bacon... or all!! And, if I have any left over, I add a can of tuna and make tuna salad out of it!

Shayla said...

Frozen Peas, Mayo, Noodles, Cheddar Cheese (crumbled or cubed).

Sometimes with boiled egg and bacon.

Makes me homesick for Texas.

Anonymous said...

I just started making this salad, and my husband can't get enough. Here in Minnesota we do have seven layer salad, but no pea salad. I make it with Greek yogurt and mayo and bacon. Soooo good!

Anonymous said...

my family adores my pea salad, it is similar to this but different too., I use canned peas drained well, miracle whip hard boiled eggs onions and chunks of cheese with just a hint of sugar and mustard. I do this from my head but could probably make up a recipe if anyone is interested

Terrye said...

I'm a born and bred Okie, 65, who has had pea salad every holiday since childhood. My grandma made it, and I'll be making it for Thanksgiving. Ours is slightly different; I've never found this varaiation anywhere but in our family:

Canned peas
cubed cheddar cheese
diced sweet pickles
chopped pimento
chopped pecans

Mix with a clabbered milk dressing (like coleslaw but less sweet)

Extremely interesting combination of flavors and textures. You either love it or can't stand it. :-)

Anonymous said...

In Iowa we use colby longhorn cheese and eggs. I've never seen it made with bacon.

Anonymous said...

Although my children hated "them little round green yucky things" I love English peas anyway I can get them. Being raised in Tennnessee, they also were a staple at every church pot luck and holiday dinner. Thanks for the posting. Almost like my recipe but no mint for us.

Christy K Martin said...

My husband is a Texan...he will only eat "HIS" pea salad.

He uses frozen peas, freshly shredded cheddar, water chestnuts, boiled eggs, crispy bacon, mayo, miracle whip, salt and pepper.

I don't dare try anything different. I for sure would never think canned peas are suitable for this recipe. Blehhh

Audrey said...

Wonderful writing...how entertaining you are! I have been making pea salad here in Oklahoma for years, but am now going to faithfully use fresh or frozen peas, as I don't like the mushy LaSeur's. Great recipe!

Unknown said...

I got struck with a sudden yearning for pea salad as I put a bag of frozen peas in the shopping cart this afternoon, so I picked up a red onion and some longhorn co-jack to boot. I knew you'd have a recipe, and sure enough...

I did what I always do and pickled the chopped onions for a bit in the vinegar before I put the rest of the salad together. I went with one commenter's advice to go half mayo and half MW, which was exactly right, and I went with shredded cheese instead of cubed just out of laziness. (It's really hot in Boston this weekend.) Also, I went with a big pinch of smoked paprika instead of cayenne, just because smoked paprika makes everything better. Went wonderfully with tonight's pulled pork sandwiches.

We never did either hardboiled egg or pickles in ours. Some small chopped cornichons might be nice, though...

Kathleen from Austin said...

Am I the only one who puts sliced green olives with pimientos in?? I'm a native Texan and grew up eating pea salad. I like the LeSeur tiny peas, Hellman's mayo, cubed sharp cheddar, and the olives. I add a little bit of the olive juice for extra flavor. Fold gently so as not to mush the peas. I'm not sure if this was how my grandmas made it; my sister thinks there were pearl onions and pimientos but no olives. And apparently Velveeta. It was always a favorite at all my work's potlucks—got to where I'd make a little extra to keep at home since there were never any leftovers!

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