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Make Ahead Smoky Pea Salad With Greek Yogurt

A delicious make-ahead veggie side dish that uses frozen peas, this Smoky Pea Salad couldn’t be any easier! Packed full of veggies and flavor, this salad is also Whole30 compliant, dairy-free, Paleo, and gluten-free. Make it ahead of a BBQ or party and watch your guests gobble it up.

a blue bowl with smoky pea salad, almonds, and a spoon on a white board
This pea salad is the type of side dish that sits alone at the BBQ untouched because it looks really weird.  Then, someone brave enough to try it will get the ball rolling by yelling “holy shit, who made this delicious pea thing, and what in the hell is in it”?

I love food that makes people swear.

It gets kind of awkward at church picnics though.

I first tried this Make Ahead Smoky Pea Salad With Greek Yogurt at my mother-in-law’s house, and then promptly asked for the recipe. Actually, everyone started asking for the recipe. I have never been so confused when receiving a copy of a recipe before. The ingredients/directions called for “three chukahs of cumin”.

Say whaaaaaa?

The recipe was given to my mother-in-law by her friend Florence who loves to sprinkle her speech with familial Yiddish phrases.  I asked all my Jewish friends, and not a one knew what in the hell a chukah meant.

So, we guessed that it meant “shakes”, as in “three shakes of cumin”, and went with it. Worked out great.

What Is Pea Salad?

I describe it like a potato salad – minus the potatoes. It’s a cool and refreshing side dish that is guaranteed to be popular at your next BBQ or book club lunch. Keep a small container for yourself at home because you’re going to be bringing home an empty bowl.

This dish is eaten cold, so no need to heat. That makes it perfect for the summer and all your party needs. Though truth be told, I love it in the spring, fall, and winter too.

What Ingredients Are in Pea Salad?

I think you’ll be shocked to find out that peas are the main ingredient in this Make Ahead Smoked Pea Salad. I know. Big surprise.

I use frozen peas because they still have some bite to them when they thaw. Additionally, frozen peas were picked and flash frozen at their peak of freshness. This makes them an affordable and healthy choice all year long. I can find a pound of frozen organic peas at my grocery store for $1.29.

You’re welcome to use fresh or canned, but make sure all the liquid is drained from the canned peas first. Please note, the salad with not be as crispy and crunchy if using canned.

This pea salad recipe calls for a creamy plain Greek yogurt because to say I dislike mayo is an understatement. (Related: Easy Instant Pot Greek Yogurt). But you can use mayo if you don’t have nightmares about it. (Related: Homemade Mayo).

It also contains: ground cumin, green onions (spring onions or scallions depending on what part of the world you’re in), smoked almonds, and canned water chestnuts.

A bowl of peas, water chestnuts, cumin, sliced green onions, smoked almonds, and greek yogurt on a white plank

Can I Make This Pea Salad Whole30? Paleo? Vegan?

Yes, and the substitutions are incredibly easy! Use Homemade Mayo (or other compliant brands like Primal Kitchen or Chosen Foods) instead of the Greek yogurt.

If you are dairy-free, use your favorite plant-milk based yogurt in place of the Greek yogurt.

There are sugar-free compliant brands of storebought smoked almonds, but the price is fairly prohibitive. In this case, I would make them myself. It won’t be exactly the same but still delicious and more affordable! Or, if you have a friend with a smoker, beg them to throw some on for you.

Stovetop smoked almonds: Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 tsp olive oil or ghee, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp smoked paprika, and 1 cup of almonds. Stir and toast for 8-10 minutes. Allow to fully cool before pulsing.

If you aren’t serving this to vegetarians, you could also use regular dry-roasted almonds, a pinch of sea salt, and add chopped Whole30/Paleo compliant bacon. Not one person will blame you for making it a pea salad with bacon!

My favorite Whole30 compliant brand of bacon is Wellshire Farms, but it is only available at Whole Foods (a 45-minute one-way drive for me). US Wellness Meats and Butcher Box also have compliant bacon and they do home deliveries.

Pea Salad Questions/Variations:

  • Can I add hard boiled eggs? Yes, feel free! I would add them just prior to serving.
  • Can I add shredded or cubed cheese? I would say yes but try it first without it. I think what makes this recipe so refreshing is because it is light. Cheese might turn it into a “heavier” side dish. If you do include cheese, add it when you put the peas in.
  • Can I make this a pea salad with bacon? By all means, yes! But I would proceed with a light hand with the meat candy. See previous note about the lightness of this dish.
  • Make Ahead Pea Salad is an awesome addition to your meal prep containers for the week. Please, do that —-> flavorful, easy, and packed with veggies is a total meal prep win.

Here’s How to Make the Pea Salad:

In a food processor, pulse the almonds until the pieces are small.  Pro tip:  make sure you chop the almonds in the food processor before the water chestnuts. It prevents the liquid from the water chestnuts causing almond “clumpage”. Empty the almonds into a mixing bowl.Process shots for a pea salad showing almonds in a food processor

In the food processor, pulse the water chestnuts until the pieces are small and uniform. Empty them into the mixing bowl with the almonds.Side by side shots of water chestnuts whole and minced in a food processor

Slice the green onions, and dump them into the mixing bowl as well. Add the peas and cumin to the bowl. Add Greek yogurt bit by bit until you’re satisfied there is enough in there.A bowl with frozen peas, greek yogurt, chopped almonds, green onions, water chestnuts and cumin

Mix thoroughly, cover, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. The mixture will seem thick and a bit dry at first but as the peas thaw it will relax and become more pliable. If it is still too thick after 12 hours you can add a bit more Greek yogurt (or mayo).A white bowl with a mixed smoky pea salad and a wooden spoon with two bowls in the background

Pro/Recipe Tips:

  • Need to make more or less of the recipe? Click and slide the “servings” number on the recipe card and the ingredients will adjust as needed. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
  • Make this dish the day before you want to serve it. It gives the flavors a chance to meld together, and um, it is a dish you can make the night before a party or a big family meal. What’s not to love about that?
  • Store in the fridge for up to four days. After that, the whey from the Greek yogurt will start to water down the salad. If you like mayo, using mayo in the salad will allow it to be stored for six days without compromising the flavor.A whole of pea salad with almonds and a mason jar drink on a white board

More Easy Side Dishes You’ll Love:

I know this Smoky Pea Salad sounds weird, but it tastes freaking amazing.  Weird and delicious is totally my bag.

And now it’s yours!

Making this recipe or others?

Post a photo on my Facebook page, share it on Instagram, or save it to Pinterest with the tag #sustainablecooks. I can't wait to see your take on it!

A blue bowl full of smoky pea salad on a white board
Print
5 from 1 vote
Make Ahead Smoky Pea Salad With Greek Yogurt
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 

A delicious make-ahead veggie side dish that uses frozen peas, this Smoky Pea Salad couldn't be any easier! Packed full of veggies and flavor, this salad is also Whole30 compliant, Paleo, and gluten-free. 

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cold pea salad, make ahead BBQ side
Servings: 10
Calories: 138 kcal
Author: Sarah Cook - Sustainable Cooks
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, pulse the almonds until the pieces are small.  Pro tip:  make sure you chop the almonds in the food processor before the water chestnuts. It prevents the liquid from the water chestnuts causing almond "clumpage".  Empty the almonds into a mixing bowl.

  2. In the food processor, pulse the water chestnuts until the pieces are small and uniform. Empty them into the mixing bowl with the almonds.

  3. Slice the green onions, and add them to the mixing bowl.

  4. Add the peas and cumin to the bowl.

  5. Add Greek yogurt bit by bit until you're satisfied there is enough in there.  

  6. Mix thoroughly, cover, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

Recipe Notes

If you are unable to find smoked almonds: heat a skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 tsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp smoked paprika, and 1 cup of almonds. Stir and toast for 8-10 minutes. Allow to fully cool before pulsing.

Nutrition Facts
Make Ahead Smoky Pea Salad With Greek Yogurt
Amount Per Serving
Calories 138 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 11%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 8mg 0%
Potassium 265mg 8%
Total Carbohydrates 13g 4%
Dietary Fiber 4g 16%
Sugars 4g
Protein 6g 12%
Vitamin A 7.7%
Vitamin C 23.2%
Calcium 6.5%
Iron 8.8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This post contains affiliate links and we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you if you click through and make a purchase. This allows me to continue to provide free content, and I only share products that I use and love myself.

This post was originally published in 2014. It has been restested, updated with reader feedback, new photos were added, and the recipe was made printable.

Easy and tasty, this make-ahead Smoky Pea Salad With Greek Yogurt is the best healthy cold side dish you'll ever make! Smoked almonds give this recipe a fun crunchy kick. This salad is also Whole30 compliant, Paleo, and gluten-free. #sustainablecooks #peasalad #coldpeasalad #whole30 #vegetarian #greekyogurt #potluck #healthysidedish

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15 comments on “Make Ahead Smoky Pea Salad With Greek Yogurt”

  1. This pea salad sounds delish and creative.

  2. It is my guess that chukah is the sound the shaker makes as you shake your spices in. Chukah, chukah, chukah, this is the sound my mom use to say when she used shaker bottles.

  3. Glad I found you again! Not a huge almond fan, but, since I might be the only one in the world, I may try this anyway! I’m also feeling the “WordPress-love” at the moment. (not.) If one more robot spams me about their brilliant solution to my SEO deficiencies, I might scream (if they are lucky).

  4. I am so glad I found you new home. I was lost without you in my inbox. I’ll try the salad….sounds good! Enjoy the long weekend.

  5. Thanks for sending out that email regarding your new domain! I hadn’t been getting any updates and was a sad panda. Bright side, I got to binge-read weeks of your hilarious posts.

  6. Don’t think I’ve ever seen smoked almonds over on this side of the pond in Blighty. Are they a common thing in that there ‘Murica?
    They sound intriguing, as does the pea salad. Gonna have a look for smoked almonds, but if I can’t find them do you think dry roasted peanuts would work instead? x

    • Hi Zola,

      It is pronounced “merica”. Ha! I’m not sure if they’re an international thing or not. They’re freaking delicious though, so I hope you can find them!

      Dry roasted peanuts would change the flavor, but I think it would be ok. You’d want to add some salt to the mix, and maybe some smoked paprika if you can track some down. The smokey flavor is pretty fabulous in the mix.

  7. I tried the salad tonight and it tastes really good!
    I just have a question… the only smoked almonds I could find were Hickory flavoured smoked salted almonds. I wasn’t too sure, so I just took roasted almonds. I live in Canada so maybe that’s not something common here…. or I haven’t looked hard enough!
    Anyway, thanks for the recipe!

  8. Def need to try this!!! #smokedpaprikaisthebomb

  9. Just made the yummy pea salad. I didn’t have smoked almonds so I used regular almonds and substituted in a teaspoon of smoked paprika. Tastes great.

  10. I LOVE Pea Salad… I make it in many different variations…. Now I usually make a base salad, then add the variants per bowl as I eat it…. so I can have multiple versions from one batch of base…
    THIS sounds awesome…… gotta go get some Smoked Almonds now…. A KEEPER !!!