Give Peas a Chance — Crunchy Pea Salad

Anyone who has ever tried to feed a small child knows that their tastes can be unpredictable, particularly when it comes to vegetables. It is a myth that young children hate all vegetables — the problem is that you never know which vegetable they will like on any given day. Nuni will happily munch on florets of raw broccoli (she saw it on Sesame Street), but will turn up her nose at the cooked stuff, even if it’s slathered in cheese, even though she LOVES cheese. She’ll eat a carrot, but only if the top is still attached, and she likes to squeeze all the insides from grape tomatoes without actually tasting them. In short, I never know how she’ll approach a vegetable, unless that vegetable is a pea.

I don’t know what it is about peas – maybe it’s the sweet flavor, the diminuitive size, or the bright color – but they seem to be particularly appealing to children. This salad, which I adapted from my favorite but now sadly defunct parenting magazine, Wondertime, is a great use of peas that appeals to children and adults alike. The natural sweetness of peas is a perfect foil to smoky, crunchy bacon, savory nuts and sharp onion.

It uses frozen peas (which are often sweeter than fresh, as their sugar hasn’t turned to starch before freezing), and comes together in just a few minutes. Cook the bacon (15 minutes in a 400 degree oven yields perfectly crisp bacon, every time), mix up the dressing, and add chopped onions, crumbled bacons, toasted nuts and defrosted peas (holding them under cold running water for about 30 seconds usually does the trick). If you can find roasted and salted pecans, they’re terrific (just adjust seasoning to taste) but if you use raw pecans, toast them first for more depth of flavor. The ingredients don’t sound like much, but the salad holds together remarkably well, and is curiously addictive.

It’s also a great solution to the summer barbecue pot luck problem. If potato salad and coleslaw are already spoken for, bring along this pea salad. It’s unusual without being scary, and the bacon echoes the flavors of the grill. Plus, if there are kids at the gathering, there’s actually a decent chance they’ll eat this. Of course, with kids and vegetables, there are no guarantees, but peas give you a fighting chance.

Crunchy Pea Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • ½ cup mayonnaise (I always say Hellman's or Best Foods, but I've just discovered the joys of Trader Joe's real mayonnaise)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vinegar (I use apple cider)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 10 oz frozen peas, thawed and drained
  • ½ cup toasted chopped pecans
  • 6 slices bacon
  • ¼ cup minced red onion
  1. Cook bacon in a 400 degree oven until crisp, about 15 minutes. Crumble and set aside.
  2. Combine mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, pepper, and worcestershire sauce in a salad bowl.
  3. Add peas, bacon, nuts and onion, toss thoroughly and chill before serving.
It's best to make this at least an hour in advance so the flavors blend. Adapted from Wondertime Magazine


14 comments to Give Peas a Chance — Crunchy Pea Salad

  • YUM! Pretty sure my kids won’t eat, since peas are currently on the “no” list, but looks great, will make soon and probably offer on my next meal plan since I was going to feature bbq and 4th of July foods.

  • This looks like a great combination of flavors. I bet my four-year-old would love it — most days!

  • We are split in my house, one child will eat peas (or anything for that matter), the other will run screaming. Bacon, however, we can all agree on. It looks like a perfect summer salad.

    I found you on TasteSpotting and am writing to say that if you have any photos that aren’t accepted there, I’d love to publish them. Visit my new site (below), it’s a lot of fun! I hope you will consider it.


  • PatW

    I like the way these are seasoned. My college age son and I both like peas and I’m always on the lookout for good recipes.

    Peas and bacon always brings a sneaky giggle about a sensitive cook on a First World War German submarine. His commander was sick and tired of his peas and bacon (I’d guess dried peas) but had to praise it to keep him from quitting. Lowell Thomas told about him in Raisers of the Deep.

  • Ali

    YUM! If Henry won’t eat this, I will.

    Curiously, he’ll do cooked broccoli like it’s ice cream. Cooked carrots are cool, too. But peas are usually a no-go. There’s just no telling with these kooky kids!

  • kristina

    I saw your photo on Taste Spotting yesterday. It looked REALLY good. I made this last night. DELICIOUS. Thanks!

  • Kara

    This looks AMAZING. I love a good Pea Salad, but it’s hard to find a good recipe.

  • This sounds like a great way to enjoy the fresh summer peas.

  • Mike

    Peas? Pass the lima beans please.

  • Just made this for a dinner with friends tonight.I added some chili paste to kick up the flavor a little. It tastes great!

  • Ryl

    I wonder if this will work with walnuts? We can’t find pecans here. I’ll have to try it.

  • Jenny

    I just made this recipe – and I CANNOT WAIT FOR DINNER! Seriously, this is wonderful. I didn’t have red onion on hand, but I can see how this would make it even better. Although, I don’t think I will be missing it tonight.

    Thank you for sharing!

  • Olivia

    “Curiously addictive”?

    Maybe you added pecans and bacon.

    (And sugar, and mayonnaise.)

  • Ryl

    Curiously addictive, indeed. Though I made a variation, since I can’t get pecans here, and I’m not a mayo fan. I used peas, onions, bacon, olive oil (instead of mayo), chopped dry-roasted almonds (in place of pecans), and salt. And I’ve adopted the Greek “with the eye” method of measurement – which basically means don’t bother to measure anything, dump in whatever seems right. Anyway, I LOVE IT, and I have made it 3 times in the last 2 weeks, and whenever I have some made I canNOT stop eating it!!!

    Thank you for my new summer staple.

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