I cannot eat pea salad without thinking of my Mawmaw. Every Texas woman worth her salt has her own version of this cold salad. The last time I made it was years ago in her kitchen. Usually it was forgotten until about 5 minutes before we were supposed to eat. "Oh darlin', we forgot the pea salad!" she would announce as she made haste to throw everything together. When I say throw, I'm not speaking figuratively. Peas were frantically poured into a bowl, some spilling onto the floor. Cheese was blocked at top speed, and onions were rough chopped by knives that had been washed by hand for twenty years. If there was ham in the fridge, it got thrown in. Measure the mayo? Oh no, a very liberal dollop was plopped on top.
A quick stir and it landed on the table just seconds before somebody said the blessing. It only made it around the table once before it was gone, so you wanted to be one of the first ones to pass it. So many recipes from my childhood come with memories in tow, and this "last minute salad" has a special place in my heart for just that reason.
Traditionally, Longhorn cheddar is used. (Yes, we even like our cheese to be Texan in the Lone Star State.) I made my version with salami, smoked Gouda, and fresh dill. It's a great way to get some green on your plate if you need a change from leafy greens. It has the comfort food appeal of a potato or pasta salad with a little more antioxidants to go around. Makes you feel better about all that mayo.
1. Rinse and drain about 3 cups of fresh or frozen (thawed) peas.
2. Cube one cup each: onion, hard salami, and Gouda.
3. Finely mince several sprigs of fresh dill. (You could substitute another fresh herb you had on hand if you like. I would then add a tablespoon of vinegar to give it a little kick though.)
4. Add 1/2 cup of mayo and 1/3 cup of cream.
5. Add sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Combine and chill in the fridge before serving...or rush it to the table at the very last minute.
When I realize how emotionally attached I am to food, it's no wonder why I've had trouble dieting most of my adult life... Eating feels like part of my heritage. That might sound crazy to some, but I think a lot of you can relate. Sometimes the recipes passed down from our mothers and grandmothers are the most sensory packed stories of our families' history. Cooking and serving these for the first time becomes a precious rite of passage and a way to keep memories alive. So, what's that dish in your family?
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