This cold Healthy Pea Salad recipe is crunchy and perfect for summer! It's made with fresh snap peas, mint, almonds, and Parmesan cheese.
Nothing says summertime like peas picked right from the garden. This Fresh Pea Salad is the perfect way to showcase them. The pea is the star of this dish and all the other ingredients work together with it harmoniously.
Peas are a versatile vegetable with a crunchy texture and taste that is simultaneously earthy and sweet. They are available all year round, but summer is the best time to enjoy them fresh. In the Midwest, peas are in season from July through August.
Fresh peas are a great addition to any dish, from pasta to stir fry to soup. One of my favorite ways to enjoy garden peas is a fresh and flavorful salad. This recipe is healthy and uses either snow peas or snap peas.
The peas are chopped and tossed in a simple vinegar dressing, along with lots of fresh mint, toasted almonds, and Parmesan cheese. It's made without mayo or bacon, so this salad is much lighter than many of the pea salad recipes out there.
It makes a great side dish for a potluck or picnic. This salad is both vegetarian and gluten free.
- Are Snap Peas and Snow Peas The Same Thing?
- Ingredients For Healthy Pea Salad
- How To Make Healthy Pea Salad
- How To Toast Almonds
- Can I Use A Different Nut?
- Which Mint Is Best For Pea Salad?
- How To Make The Salad Dressing
- What Flavors Go Well With Peas?
- What To Serve With Fresh Pea Salad
- Can This Pea Salad Be Made The Day Ahead?
- How Long Does It Last In The Fridge?
- Healthy Pea Salad with Mint
Are Snap Peas and Snow Peas The Same Thing?
This salad can be made with either snap peas or snow peas. They are similar, but there are a few differences between the two.
Snap peas are firm and more round in shape than snow peas. They are also known as sugar snap peas and the flavor is somewhere between that of snow peas and garden peas.
Snow peas are also known as Chinese pea pods and are flatter in shape than snap peas. They are often used to make stir fries and other Asian dishes.
Whether using snap peas or snow peas, it's best to remove the strings that run along the edge of the pods before preparing. That string can be removed with your fingers.
Both snap peas and snow peas may be grown in an outdoor garden during the summer months. You may also receive them as part of your CSA box or grab some from a local farmer's market.
I look forward to the summer months when peas are in season for the sole purpose of making this salad. A friend introduced me to it while we visited Montana a few years back and I look forward to making it every summer.
Ingredients For Healthy Pea Salad
Here's what you'll need to make it.
- 1 lb. Snap Peas or Snow Peas
- 6 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 2 Tbsp. White Wine Vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
- ½ tsp. Sugar
- ¼ tsp. Kosher Salt and Pepper
- ¾ cup Sliced or Slivered Almonds (unsalted) (or nuts of choice)
- ½ cup Fresh Mint
- ½ cup Parmesan Cheese (or Asiago or Romano cheese)
How To Make Healthy Pea Salad
This recipe is super easy, but does require a bit of chopping. The peas are finely chopped and the process does call for a bit of patience.
It's important to wash the peas to remove any excess dirt and to remove the little flower at the end of each pea and the string that runs along the pod, if those are present.
- To make the salad, thoroughly wash and pat dry 1 lb. of fresh snap peas or snow peas. Remove the little flower and string that runs along each pod if necessary.
- Chop each pea pod into small slices. It's easier if the pea pods are sliced diagonally.
- Place the chopped pea pods in a mixing bowl.
- Be sure to exercise caution when chopping the peas in order to protect your fingers. It's best to use a sharp knife and to chop them slowly and carefully to prevent injuries.
- Finely chop ½ cup of fresh mint and set aside.
How To Toast Almonds
One element that gives this pea salad a nice crunchy texture and nutty flavor is the addition of toasted almonds. You can use either slivered or sliced almonds to make this salad, but it's important that the almonds are unsalted.
I find that it's best to toast nuts before adding them to almost any recipe. Toasting the nuts brings out their natural oils, giving them a more robust flavor and crunchier texture.
It only takes a few minutes and is well worth the effort.
I love to use a small cast iron skillet when toasting nuts, but you can use any type of skillet you like. The almonds may be toasted while you are chopping the peas.
- To toast the nuts, place a small cast iron skillet on the stove top and heat to medium low.
- Add ¾ cup slivered or sliced almonds and toast for 6-8 minutes on medium low, stirring or shaking the pan every couple of minutes to prevent the nuts from burning.
- Once the nuts are fragrant and slightly browned, remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
Can I Use A Different Nut?
You can substitute any variety of nut in place of almonds if you like.
Feel free to use walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, or Brazil nuts if you prefer. Just make sure to opt for nuts that are unsalted.
You can also use seeds like sunflower seeds or pepitas if you like.
Which Mint Is Best For Pea Salad?
The two most common varieties of mint used to make things like salad are spearmint and peppermint.
Spearmint has a more delicate and slightly sweeter flavor. It's a popular culinary herb and used to make everything from mojitos to tzatziki sauce.
Peppermint is more pungent and often used to make holiday desserts like peppermint bark and candy canes.
If you've got mint growing in your herb garden, I recommend using spearmint. Most mint purchased from grocery stores is spearmint, although it is simply labeled 'mint'.
Of course, peppermint will work as well. It will give the salad a slightly more pungent mint flavor.
How To Make The Salad Dressing
Many pea salads are made with a creamy dressing that calls for sour cream and mayo. This version is lighter and made with a vinaigrette that highlights the flavor of the peas, rather than overwhelming them.
It's super easy to prepare and has a bright flavor.
- To make the dressing, combine 6 Tbsp. olive oil, 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar, 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard, ½ tsp. sugar, and ¼ tsp. each kosher salt and pepper in a small bowl.
- Whisk all of these ingredients with a fork or a small whisk. The dressing should emulsify as you whisk it.
You can also make this dressing by combining all the ingredients in a small mason jar with a lid and shaking until it emulsifies. (You may have seen this method on The Pioneer Woman).
You may end up with extra salad dressing. Feel free to store any extra dressing in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days and use to dress another salad or use to drizzle over fresh or roasted vegetables on a crudité platter.
What Flavors Go Well With Peas?
Peas have a natural sweetness and sweet herbs like mint work really well to accentuate that sweetness. It's a classic flavor combo and used in cuisines all around the world.
Salty foods like bacon, ham, pancetta, and hard cheeses pair nicely with peas.
Peas are also great with bright flavors like lemon and other citrus.
- To assemble the salad, pour desired amount of dressing over the peas and toss until completely coated. You can start with a small amount and add more as needed. Continue until you have added desired amount.
- Add the toasted almonds, ½ cup chopped fresh mint, ½ cup of grated Parmesan, Asiago, or Romano cheese.
- Toss until the salad is completely combined.
- Garnish with extra fresh mint if desired.
Any hard cheese or salty cheese would work great in place of Parmesan. Feel free to use Asiago or Romano for more of an intense flavor.
Feta or goat cheese are other great options.
What To Serve With Fresh Pea Salad
This Healthy Pea Salad is a great summer side dish and perfect for a picnic or potluck.
For a vegetarian option these BBQ Sweet Potatoes are delicious.
Can This Pea Salad Be Made The Day Ahead?
It's actually best to make this Healthy Pea Salad the day ahead and store it in the fridge. This helps the flavors to develop. Although, it can certainly be served right after preparing it.
If making the day ahead, store the salad in an airtight container or cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Be sure to stir the salad before serving to freshen it up a bit.
How Long Does It Last In The Fridge?
This fresh pea salad lasts 3-4 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
I do not recommend freezing this salad, as its best enjoyed right away or within a few days.
Love salads? Check out these recipes!
- Kohlrabi Slaw
- Classic Coleslaw
- Italian Quinoa Salad
- Grilled Corn Salad with Feta Dressing
- Balsamic Pickled Beet Salad
- Summer Roasted Vegetable Salad
Looking For More Healthy Summer Salads? Don't Miss These Recipes!
Healthy Pea Salad with Mint
For The Salad:
- 1 lb. snap peas or snow peas
- ¾ cup slivered almonds unsalted
- ½ cup fresh mint chopped
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese or Asiago or Romano cheese
For The Salad:
- Thoroughly wash and pat dry 1 lb. of fresh snap peas or snow peas. Remove the little flower and string that runs along each pod if necessary.
- Chop the peas into small diagonal slices. Place the sliced peas in a serving bowl and set aside.
- Finely chop ½ cup of fresh mint and set aside.
- Place a small cast iron skillet on the stove top and heat to medium low. Add ¾ cup unsalted sliced or slivered almonds (or nut of choice) to the pan. Toast the nuts on medium low for 6-8 minutes, stirring or shaking the pan every few minutes to prevent the nuts from burning. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Grate ½ cup of Parmesan, Asiago, Romano, or hard cheese of choice.
For The Dressing:
- To assemble the salad, pour desired amount of the dressing over the sliced peas and toss to combine. Continue until the peas are coated to your liking. Add the toasted almonds, ½ cup chopped mint, and ½ cup of shaved Parmesan (or cheese of choice). Toss once again to combine all the ingredients.
- To serve: Garnish with extra fresh mint if desired.