This bright, fresh salad combines sweet peas with goat cheese and candied hazelnuts for the ultimate springtime dish or light weeknight dinner!
Spring is such a great season for fresh veggies! There are so many options to choose from and it’s always a great idea to take advantage of what’s fresh and in season. If you make the hazelnuts ahead of time, this salad is ready in less than 30 minutes making is the ultimate fresh weeknight side dish.
This English Pea Salad is one of my newer takes on something mostly veggie based, and I have to say, I’m kinda loving it and I know you will too!!
Using fresh peas is the key to this recipe. You could substitute frozen but it just won’t be quite the same so definitely try to find fresh English peas in their pods if possible. If your grocery store doesn’t carry them a local farmer’s market would be a good place to check. My grocery store carries them when they are in season, as do most Whole Foods and other major chains. Whole Foods also carries a pre-shelled version which works too.
You might be asking – what are English peas?
English peas are just actually your regular garden variety peas. Unlike snap peas or snow peas, their pods are not edible so you need to shell them before you eat them. If you can find them super fresh or grow them in your garden you can actually eat the peas raw though they are typically steamed before serving.
And what about Meyer lemons?
I love using Meyer lemons when they are in season, which is technically late winter and spring. They are a bit sweeter than regular lemons so they give dishes and dressings a slightly less tangy taste than regular lemons. Since Meyer lemons are only in season until about the end of March you can always substitute regular lemons. The dressing will just be a little more tart. Both the vinaigrette and the candied hazelnuts in this recipe are super yummy, so you make want to make extra.
Especially true for the nuts – they make an excellent, slightly sweet snack and go really well on just about any salad! Just try not to eat all the candied nuts while the peas are steaming!!
Meal Prep Tip
If you want to have these peas ready for an easy weeknight side dish or lunch add the hazelnuts to your weekly meal prep plan and store them in an airtight container after they cool. They will keep all week. When you are ready to eat just steam the peas, toss the salad and you are ready to go. If you decide to make extra I recommend keeping the peas and dressing separate until you are ready to serve.
This salad is an excellent, healthy springtime side dish that makes a wonderful light lunch or dinner too!
THINGS You MAY WANT FOR THIS RECIPE
OXO Mini Measuring Cup – I love to use this mini-sized measuring cup when making dressings. It makes it really easy to measure out all the liquid ingredients.
Handheld Juicer – I love these juicers. They come in three sizes – lime, lemon and orange. I just have the largest one – for oranges, so it works for everything!
This bright, fresh salad combines sweet peas with goat cheese and candied hazelnuts for the ultimate springtime dish!
For the vinaigrette:
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 4 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice, about 1 1/2 lemons
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For the salad:
- 1/2 cup whole hazelnuts
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 cups fresh shelled English peas
- 1/2 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
- dash of salt
- 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 4 mint leaves, minced
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 15 minutes. Let the nuts cool while you make the vinaigrette and then rub the skins off of the hazelnuts.
- To make the vinaigrette, whisk the vinegar, honey, lemon juice and zest together in a small bowl. Add the olive oil and continue whisking until blended.
- To make the hazelnuts, place the sugar in a small non-stick saucepan and add 2 teaspoons sugar. Heat over medium-high heat and stir constantly until the sugar dissolves. Cook for 2 more minutes and then add the hazelnuts. Continue stirring until the hazelnuts are costed. Remove from pan and spread onto parchment paper to cool. Try to separate the nuts so they don’t stick together in clumps as the sugar cools.
- Inset a steamer basket into a medium saucepan filled with about 2″ of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the peas and reduce heat to medium. Cover and steam for 12 minutes, until peas are tender.
- Remove peas from the pan and place in a medium mixing bowl. Add the shallots, salt and pepper, mix well. Add the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Top with goat cheese, hazelnuts and minced mint leaves. Serve immediately.
If you’re making this salad later in the spring when Meyer lemons are no longer in season you can substitute juice from regular lemons. The dressing will be a bit more tart but the flavor combo is still excellent!
Updated. Originally published May 2016.