Pea Salad

Pea Salad is one of those great side salads that you often see on salad bars in these parts. I’ve always been a fan but then I’m also a fan of peas. And salad. So pea salad is just right up my alley.

I’ve heard people say that they don’t like peas because they are “mushy”. Well, just as Sheriff Andy Taylor said that little old ladies ought to never clank, peas should never be mushy. Sadly, many folks’ pea experience is with canned peas which are on the mushy side. Frozen peas deliver a much crisper, fresher taste that is just almost-but not quite-as tasty as a fresh garden peas. And much easier to come by, too.

Peas are an early spring vegetable. Growing up, I looked forward to the spring crop of peas. Back then, my dad didn’t have his trusty tractor so we were dependent on our farming neighbors to plow our garden each year. Some years, they’d come by early enough for a pea crop, other years they didn’t. Even as a small kid, I LOVED garden peas and was amazed at how much better they were than peas from a can. And though I now live in a town with multiple farmers markets, it’s still difficult to find fresh peas.

A few summers ago, I spotted an elderly couple selling peas out of the back of their truck at my local CVS. I bought from them a couple of times that year then cruised the lot the next year looking for them, and lo behold, eventually they showed up.  That’s right you all, I HAD A PEA DEALER! Sadly, I haven’t seen them in a couple of years.

So, this recipe…it’s based loosely on the Pioneer Woman‘s and my mom’s which are basically the same. I subbed Greek yogurt for the sour cream and left out the parsley that Ree (I call her Ree) used, and omitted the bell pepper that Loretta uses (I call her Mom). I made this for my Easter lunch.  I prepared it on Saturday so that it could set overnight and all the flavors could mix together. It’s delicious, and a great way to eat your veggies.

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Pea Salad

1/3 cup Greek Yogurt
1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise
Salt And Pepper
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
4 cups Frozen Green Peas, partially thawed*
8 slices Bacon, fried crispy and chopped
1/2 whole Small Red Onion, diced small
6 oz Cheddar, American, or Colby cheese, diced into small cubes

*I put peas in a colander and let them thaw at room temperature for about a half hour. You want them to not be ice balls but not totally thawed either. This will keep you from heading into the dreaded “mushy” zone.

Mix the Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and vinegar together to make the dressing. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if needed. For a true Southern taste, add in a dash of sugar.

Stir dressing into the peas until the peas are well coated. Stir in the bacon, onion, and cheese until all combined. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 to 4 hours before serving.

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Pear and Goat Cheese Salad

Goat cheese, y’all.

It’s good. I was skeptical, I admit. I decided to try it earlier this year and kind of fell in love with it. I’m not sure where I came up with this salad combination but I love it.

LOVE IT.

It’s a simple recipe that you can adjust to suit yourself so I won’t rattle on and on.

Pear and Goat Cheese Salad

3 to 4 cups of your favorite salad greens-I like a 50/50 Spinach/Spring Mix
1/4 cup of goat cheese crumbles
1/2 pear, chopped or sliced
1 tablespoon of glazed walnut pieces
1 tablespoon of dried cranberries
2 tablespoons of vinegarette of choice-I like Newman’s Own Balsalmic

That’s it folks. Toss it all together. It’s sweet. It’s crunchy. It’s creamy. It’s tart.

It’s my favorite salad.

Go. Fix one.

“Oh, Toodles! Salad” (Spaghetti Salad)

My son turned 1 yesterday. It’s such a cliche, but time truly does fly by! He loves Mickey Mouse so I knew pretty early on that I was going to do a Mickey Mouse themed party for him. And I knew there would be a pasta salad involved because I really wanted to call something “Toodle Salad”. I had Pinned a creamy, mayo based salad but decided instead to make this spaghetti salad which came to me courtesy of my friend, Starr. It’s much a like a traditional Italian dressing pasta salad but the spaghetti noodles make it a little more fun to eat. Plus, the tomatoes make it red like Mickey.

I omitted the cucumber since I don’t like it. Zucchini would make a good substitute in the summer when it’s so plentiful.

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Spaghetti Salad

1 Box of spaghetti – 1lb
1 large green pepper (or 1 small red and 1 small green for color)
1 small sweet onion
1 English cucumber
1 – 16oz bottle of zesty Italian salad dressing
½ bottle of McCormicks Salad Supreme Seasoning
1 tomato

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. While the noodles cook, chop up the pepper, onion, cucumber and tomato. Drain spaghetti, rinse with cold water until the pasta has cooled. Drain again and pour into a large bowl. Add vegetables, salad dressing and seasoning. Combine well. Store in refrigerator in air tight container until ready to serve. It’s best when it sits all night.

Greek Chickpea Salad

It’s not often that you find culinary inspiration in a college dining hall, but that’s exactly where this recipe came from in a roundabout way. I first tried a Greek chickpea salad at our university cafeteria and liked it so much that I started looking for a copycat. I ended up piecing together several recipes to come up with this one. Cucumber is a popular component of Greek salads but it’s one vegetable that I just do not care for so I substituted zucchini. I also added in a few sprigs of chopped mint from my herb garden.

This salad is both light and hearty and I enjoyed it as a main dish for lunch.

Greek Chickpea Salad

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1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup reduced fat crumbled feta (2 ounces)
1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh parsley leaves

Toss it all together in a bowl and serve immediately; or serve chilled.

Chinese Chicken Pasta Salad

Throughout my entire childhood, my mother kept a subscription to Good Housekeeping magazine. Even as a kid, I liked to flip through them and look for recipes. Some of the best ones weren’t necessarily published by the magazine but instead were part of product advertisements.

This pasta salad is one such recipe. This is one of the first recipes I remember trying. I can recall bringing this to a potluck at the company where I interned in college and calling it my “speciality”.
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I stumbled across my well worn recipe a while back and just happened to have the ingredients on hand I needed to make this salad. I had forgotten just how yummy it is! The ginger, soy, and Miracle Whip make a great combination for the dressing.

The chicken is totally optional, and I have made it without chicken far more than I’ve made it with chicken. I also generally use frozen peas rather than pea pods.

Chinese Chicken Pasta Salad
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1 cup Miracle Whip Salad Dressing
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tsp Ground Ginger
1/4 Tsp Hot Sauce (optional)
3 cups rotini pasta (8 oz), cooked and drained
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 cup pea pods
1 cup chopped red pepper
1/4 cup sliced green onion

Mix Miracle Whip, soy sauce, ginger, and hot sauce in large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix lightly. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Frito Salad

Last week, I needed a quick dish for a potluck lunch at work. This one came to mind. A friend brought this to our homecoming tailgate party last year (Hi Karen!) and I thought it was just fabulous.

Frito Salad
Frito Salad
3 (14 oz) cans of whole kernel corn, drained
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 small red onion, diced
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (I used Sargento Reduced Fat Cheddar Jack)
1 1/4 cup mayonnaise (I used Hellman’s Light)
1 (9.25 oz) bag of Chili Cheese Fritos

Combine corn, peppers, onion, cheese and mayonnaise in a bowl.
Place in refrigerator until ready to serve. Just before serving, mix in Fritos. I saved a handful of chips to lay on top as garnishment. Serve immediately.

This salad is not great as a leftover. The chips get too soggy. And I say this as someone who thinks the best nachos are the ones on the very bottom of the plate! So, eat up!

Starr’s Asian Cole Slaw

My bestie Starr likes to joke that she’s not a cook. But don’t believe her. She just has certain standards. Like no weird ingredients and no more than 5 ingredients, for example. This recipe is one of her go to recipes when a potluck dish is needed. It goes slightly above her 5 ingredient rule but it’s super easy and always highly praised.

This slaw is perfect if you have people in your life who don’t eat mayonnaise (I don’t get it but they walk among us). Now, if I can just get her to share her Spaghetti Salad recipe…are you listening Starr?

Asian Cole Slaw

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1 pkg coleslaw mix
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 small package slivered almonds
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 pkg chicken flavored Ramen noodles

Mix coleslaw mix, sunflower seeds and almonds in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix oil, sugar, vinegar, and flavor packet from Ramen. Pour this mixture over the coleslaw mixture and toss. Just before serving, break noodles up into coleslaw and toss.