Lady Pea Salad

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This light, bright pea salad is a dainty option for your summer party.

Lady Pea Salad
Photo: Photographer: Greg DuPree, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn
Active Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
45 mins
Servings:
4

Looking for a unique summer salad? Lady Pea Salad is brimming with color and aroma from fresh herbs and a zippy lemon dressing. The star of the recipe is the Lady Peas, a variety of field peas also known as Lady Cream Peas. Whether you serve this salad as a picnic side or tea party treat, it's a crowd pleaser.

What Is a Lady Pea?

While you may recognize black-eyed peas, Lady Peas are not as well known. Dating to the early 1800s, the Southern heirloom peas are one of the first commercially-available options.

Where do Lady Peas get their ladylike name and what makes them different from other peas?

The Lady Pea name comes from their small size and delicate flavor; both are perfect for this lighter summer salad. Lady Peas are a Southern pea favorite from the legume or field pea family. Field peas or cowpeas are hearty and heat-loving beans that come in many varieties and names (zipper, crowder, cream, black-eye, pink-eye). We love using Lady Peas in fresh, summery salads, Lady Pea Salsa, or other simple dishes where they really shine.

Pea Plan: When Lady Peas aren't an option, use another type of mild-flavored fresh or frozen field pea, such as Purple Hull, Zipper, or Pink Eye Pea.

Why Shouldn't You Use Black-Eyed Peas in This Salad?

The best known type of field pea may be the Black-Eyed Pea. However, they aren't a good choice for this recipe. When cooked, black-eyed peas turn dark with a deep, earthy flavor. Unlike other field peas, Lady Peas remain creamy white, yellowish-white, or pale green with a mild flavor when cooked which makes them the perfect choice for this lighter salad.

What Do You Need to Make Lady Pea Salad?

Make this lovely, light salad with fresh or frozen Lady Peas, chopped fresh basil, chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped fresh mint leaves, finely chopped shallot, grated lemon zest plus fresh lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, kosher salt, and crushed red pepper.

How to Make Lady Pea Salad

First, bring a large pot of water to boil over medium-high heat. Add the Lady Peas. Reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until the peas are tender.

While the Lady Peas are in the water cooking, stir together the chopped basil, parsley, mint, shallot, lemon zest and lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper in a large bowl. After the Lady Peas are cooked, drain them and let cool. Transfer the cooled peas to the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Can You Add Other Ingredients to Lady Pea Salad?

You may want to add a protein or other toppings to turn this Lady Pea Salad into an entree option. Add-ins could include bacon, tortilla strips, cornbread crumbles, croutons, diced ham or turkey, sunflower seeds, or candied pecans.

What to Serve with Lady Pea Salad

While this salad can stand on its own as a light summer entree, it also works great as a side with tea party sandwiches, light soups, or as a chicken or fish accompaniment.

How to Serve Lady Pea Salad

You can present Lady Pea Salad as a simple side on a plate. To make the presentation fancier, other options include layering it in a Mason Jar or putting it into pre-made tart shells.

How to Store Lady Pea Salad

Store Lady Pea Salad in an airtight container in your refrigerator. If you plan on storing it for longer than a day, consider keeping the dressing separate from the salad so you can add it later.

Where Can You Find Lady Peas?

You can find fresh lady peas in some local farmers' markets and also order dried lady peas online, although they are less common outside of the Southern communities where they are commonly grown.

What should you look for when buying Lady Peas?

While you might squeeze or tap fruit to check for freshness, finding the best Lady Peas is simple: Look for flexible, plump pods.

Do I Need to Shell Lady Peas to Use Them?

Lady Peas, like regular green peas, are sold in different formats: fresh, in their pods, shelled, and frozen. If they're in their pods, take them out before cooking. Otherwise, no need to remove the thin skin.

More Pea Recipes:

- Field Pea, Corn and Bacon Salad Recipe
- Classic Fresh Field Peas
- Field Pea Fattoush Salad
- Lady Pea and Corn Patties

Editorial contributions by Amy Barnes.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups fresh or frozen lady peas (Frozen lady peas may be labeled as zipper peas at an international farmers' market.) 

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint leaves

  • ¼ cup finely chopped shallot (from 1 small shallot)

  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest plus ¼ cup fresh juice (from 2 lemons)

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high. Add peas; reduce heat to medium, and simmer until peas are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, stir together basil, parsley, mint, shallot, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, mustard, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.

  3. Drain peas and let cool, about 15 minutes. Transfer peas to bowl with dressing, and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

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