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Best Pea Salad

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5 from 8 votes

This pea salad is everything but ordinary, loaded with smoky ham (or bacon), sweet leeks, fresh basil, and a splash of white balsamic vinegar for a bright and light salad in 20 minutes.

We’re making peas cool again with this pea salad recipe! The best part is you won’t miss the typical creamy dressing. In fact, dare I say, you won’t ever want that creamy version again? If you cringed when I say this salad is “light”, you’re probably thinking it’s “lacking flavor for the sake of health”. Well, people, this salad is Mrs. Flavor herself, with sweetness from peas and leeks, smoky saltiness from ham, freshness from basil, and a pop of fruity acidity from white balsamic. Oh and did I mention a little garlic and shallots in there, because they make everything better?

Toss the mayo jar for this one and serve this easy pea salad warm, room temp, or chilled for your next potluck or picnic along with Turkey Chili or Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms that you can make ahead. You might want to have print-outs of the recipe on-hand because everyone will be asking for it!

More peas, please? Pasta with Bacon and Peas is another creamless recipe that packs a flavor punch!

Ingredients Needed For This Pea Salad Recipe

The ingredients for pea salad are simple, yet flavorful! Sweet, smoky, salty, tart, herbaceous…it’s got it all! So grab a bag of frozen peas, a few other veggies, a ham steak, and some olive oil and vinegar, and you have yourself a light, refreshing salad that you can serve warm, room temperature, or chilled.

  • Frozen peas – look for a standard bag of peas in the frozen section. Stay away from “petite” peas that are extra tiny!
  • Smoked ham – a smoked ham steak is the easiest cut of ham to dice up into little cubes.
  • Leek – leeks are sweet with a mild onion flavor. Make sure to trim off the dark green and root ends of the leek, using only the white and light green parts!
  • Shallot – shallots add texture, soft onion flavor, and touches of beautiful pink color.
  • White balsamic vinegar – white balsamic is mildly acidic with bold fruity flavor. If you can’t find white balsamic, you can use champagne vinegar. Stay away from regular white wine vinegar if at all possible, which is much more acidic and less flavorful.
  • Extra virgin olive oil – olive oil helps sauté the pea salad.
  • Garlic – garlic makes everything better.
  • Fresh basil – a small handful of fresh basil leaves is the perfect garnish for this pea salad. Basil and peas go together like PB & J!
Pea salad recipe ingredients

How to Make Pea Salad

Learn how to make pea salad. Full instructions in the recipe card; this is an outline!

  1. Add.

    Add olive oil, frozen peas (not thawed), ham, leeks, shallot, and garlic to a large pot.Add peas, ham, leeks, shallots, garlic and olive oil to a pot.

  2. Sauté.

    Sauté for 5-9 minutes over medium-high heat until peas are just hot and bright green. Do not overcook. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. Remove.

    Use a slotted spoon to spoon salad into a separate bowl, leaving behind residual juices.Use a slotted spoon to remove pea salad from the pot.

  4. Toss.

    Add white balsamic and toss well. Some of the vinegar may sit in the bottom of the bowl, so re-toss before serving!

  5. Garnish.

    Top with fresh basil if serving warm (do not mix in or basil will wilt!) – or chill and toss with basil right before serving.Garnish with basil.

Do I Serve This Pea Salad Chilled?

One of the best parts about this pea salad recipe is you can serve it warm, room temperature for up to 2 hours, or chilled right out of the refrigerator. It’s seriously delicious any way! Make sure you add the basil last minute, to prevent it from wilting. If you serve pea salad warm, top it with fresh basil instead of mixing it in.

Storing Leftovers

  • Store leftover pea salad in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Feel free to make it ahead, but note that the peas may turn slightly yellow over time, and the basil should be added right before serving.
  • I recommend serving pea salad chilled or room temperature if it’s made ahead.  Reheating peas changes their color a bit and they’ll become a little mushy! If you do want to reheat, warm pea salad gently, in increments of 20 seconds in the microwave.
  • Freeze pea salad for up to 3 months. I recommend thawing it overnight in the refrigerator! Note that the peas will become a bit mushy when thawed.

More Salad Recipes You’ll Love!

Best Pea Salad

This pea salad is everything but ordinary, loaded with smoky ham (or bacon), sweet leeks, fresh basil, and a splash of white balsamic vinegar for a bright and light salad in 20 minutes.
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Course: Lunch, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: spring, summer
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 235kcal
Author: Tastefully Grace

Ingredients

  • 1 pound frozen peas
  • 6 ounces smoked ham diced
  • 1 medium leek (dark green and root ends removed), finely chopped
  • 1 medium shallot finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons good-quality white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove minced
  • Small handful fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In a large pot, add olive oil, frozen peas (not thawed), ham, leeks, shallot, and garlic.
  • Turn heat to medium-high and sauté for 5-9 minutes until the peas are just hot and bright green. Do not overcook, or the peas will turn yellow and become mushy. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Use a slotted spoon to spoon salad into a separate bowl, leaving behind any residual juices.
  • Add white balsamic and toss for 1-2 minutes until well-combined. Some of the vinegar may sit in the bottom of the bowl, so re-toss right before serving!
  • Garnish with fresh basil if serving warm (do not mix in or the basil will wilt!) – or chill and toss with fresh basil right before serving.

Video

Notes

  • Serve pea salad warm, room temperature, or chilled!
  • Look for frozen regular peas, not “petite” peas.
  • I recommend using a smoked ham steak that’s easy to dice! Don’t want ham? Use bacon or pancetta instead.
  • To trim the leek, cut all of the dark green part off and use for something else (like a soup!). Also cut off the root end. Slice in half lengthwise and then slice those pieces in half lengthwise again. Now finely chop! You’ll need about 1 ½ cups of finely chopped leeks.
  • If you can’t find white balsamic vinegar, use champagne vinegar (both can be find out Whole Foods). Stay away from white wine vinegar if at all possible; it’s more acidic and less flavorful.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 235kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 563mg | Potassium: 494mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1265IU | Vitamin C: 63mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 3mg
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