Fresh, zingy and joyfully green, this Mint Pea Salad is as light and fresh as it looks. It makes a great side dish for BBQs and summer Pot Luck Parties. Add a few boiled new potatoes and it makes a nutritious & speedy lunch.
I’ve been making this Mint Pea Salad for many years, but it took an early spring BBQ with my in-laws to remind me to finally get this gem of a salad photographed and published. My mum-in-law (hi Janet) will be very happy since she adores this side dish.
As we head into BBQ season I’m hunting down a handful of my favourite recipes that I always like to serve. Alongside all the sausages, burgers and kebabs, I like to pull together a handful of side dishes to keep my plate bursting with fresh ingredients and interesting flavours. I tend to prepare around 4 side dishes per BBQ, but there are 2 recipes I come back to time and time again. Always on the menu are:
- some wonderful pickled onion slices by chef Ben O’Donoghue – these are the crowning glory on any burgers served
- And of course, today’s star recipe, this Mint Pea Salad
This salad is so simple to prepare and delivers a fresh, zesty, minty and savoury-sweet addition to the plate. It’s also big on summer produce – alongside the peas the bounty includes:
- Pea shoots or lambs lettuce
- Lots of fresh, bright & aromatic mint
- Dill (optional)
- Radish – for a peppery bite and colour contrast
- A tangy lemon dressing
- Crumbled feta or goats cheese
What’s nice about this dish is that it has only a light dressing, rather than a rich mayonnaise style sauce. The citrus bite of this dressing not only partners superbly with the mint and peas, but it makes a lively pairing with the perky yet creamy bite of the feta or goats cheese as well.
I tend to use frozen peas, fully defrosted, but not cooked for most of the year. But when peas are in season I trot along to my local PYO farm with my kids to pluck a few pea pods fresh from the stem. Nothing quite beats freshly picked and podded peas. Once podded (and taste tested several times over), I blanche the peas and refresh under cold water so they are just cooked and still have that wonderful popping texture that only just harvested peas seem able to retain.
It’s best to prepare the ingredients for this Mint Pea Salad and the dressing separately and combine them together just before serving, since the acidity of the lemon juice does discolour the peas over time, spoiling the bright green aesthetic of this dish.
Finally, should you wish to turn this Mint Pea Salad into a more robust side dish, or a stand-alone salad suitable for lunch, try adding a few boiled new potatoes.
Mint Pea Salad
- 200 g/ 7 oz/ 1 1/3 cup Peas (defrosted if using frozen)
- 2 handfuls Pea shoots or lambs lettice
- 3 Pink radish
- 3 tbsp Fresh mint (chopped)
- 1 tbsp Fresh dill (chopped) optional
- 75 g/ 3 oz/ 3/4 cup Feta (or goats cheese)
For the Dressing
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 tsp Lemon juice
- 2 tsp Lemon zest
- Seasoning to taste
- If using frozen peas ensure they are fully defrosted and drained of water
- If using fresh peas blanche in boiling water for 2 minutes, drain and refresh in cold water. Drain again
- Top & tail the radish then slice into rounds as thinly as possible
- Put the peas, salad leaves, radish and herbs into a large serving bowl. Use your hands to gently toss the ingredients together
- Put the oil, lemon juice and zest into a small jug or bowl and season lightly with salt & pepper - go steady on the salt since feta is quite a salty cheese
- When ready to serve, whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour over the salad. Again, use your hands to toss the ingredients together
- Crumble the cheese over the salad and grind a little black pepper over it. Serve immediately