Pea and Corn Salad

Pea and corn salad is my staple for big groups and parties. With avocado, maple candied bacon, and homemade ranch dressing, it is an easy sell to picky eaters and vegetable lovers alike, and it is much heartier than a standard salad since there is no lettuce to take up space. This salad is also great as a standalone meal if you add shredded chicken (or extra bacon. You do you.)

Ingredients

Serves 4-6

For Salad:

1 bag frozen peas, steamed and chilled

1 bag frozen corn, steamed and chilled

*Saucy Note: This salad is extra spectacular with fresh ingredients, but it is only really worth the effort during the spring and summer when the vegetables are in season.

½ cucumber, seeded and cut into bite size pieces

1 avocado, cut into bite size pieces

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

Bacon, diced and fried with maple syrup Saucy Note: I usually cook at least 6 pieces. An entire package is not too much. You could actually just serve the candied bacon and nobody would complain. Well, maybe vegetarians. But I’ve even seen some of them cross back over for this stuff. 

Grade B Maple Syrup Saucy Note: Fake syrup is one of the few foods I truly hate, and you should not use it for cooking. I will refrain from judging you if it makes your soul happy on waffles or whatever, but please don’t cook with it. I know the real stuff is more expensive, but Grade B is preferable for cooking and much cheaper than Grade A, and I promise it is worth the investment.

For the Cilantro Ranch:

There is usually leftover dressing-store it in a closed container in the fridge for up to a week.  

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup sour cream

Buttermilk

4-6 stalks chives, diced (about 1 tbsp.)

3 cloves garlic, diced and mashed with salt

1-2 tbsp. cilantro, minced Saucy Note: If you are one of the people that tastes soap when eating cilantro, you can substitute parsley, which is the traditional ranch combination.

Garlic powder, a couple shakes

Onion powder, a couple shakes

Salt, to taste

Optional:

1 tbsp. Dill

*Saucy Note: Shake hates dill because she had a traumatizing childhood experience, so I do not add it to things. Most ranch recipes call for it, so add it if you want.

Instructions

Steam the peas and corn in the microwave, then combine in a bowl and refrigerate (or set outside in the freezing night, in our case.)

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While the vegetables are chilling, combine the ingredients for the ranch. Mince the chives, cilantro, and garlic as finely as possible. After mincing the garlic, sprinkle it with salt and mash into a paste with a fork. This helps release the tasty garlic oils and allows it to incorporate more smoothly into the dressing. Add the buttermilk last-the mixture will be very thick until you do. Thin out the dressing until you like the consistency using the buttermilk, adding a little at a time and mixing well after each addition. I prefer my ranch on the thinner side, but some prefer a creamier texture. Taste along the way to determine how you like it, and salt to taste once you reach your desired consistency. Cover and chill.

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Slice bacon into 1-inch pieces. Fry in large skillet until partially crisped over medium high heat. Turn heat down to medium and drizzle bacon with maple syrup-pretend the bacon is pancakes, and you should get it about right (unless you’re one of those people that prefers a pancake with your lake of maple syrup, you should dial it back a little.) Stir the bacon frequently so the sugars don’t burn, and remove when the bacon is glazed golden and firm in texture-crispy isn’t really the right word, but it is pretty easy to tell when the bacon is done. Remove to metal draining grate (a broiler pan works in a pinch) to drain. The bacon will stick to paper towels, so you can’t use them. Let bacon cool at room temperature.

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Prepare remaining vegetables. Wash and slice cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a spoon (the seeds will make the salad wet and soggy, which is gross and should be avoided). Cut in half lengthwise again, and then into small pieces crosswise. Halve avocado and remove pit, leaving skin on. Slice avocado into uniform cubes in skin, cutting carefully to avoid piercing avocado skin (that is how you pierce your skin, and that is bad.) Wash tomatoes and slice in half. Combine cucumber, tomato, and avocado with peas and corn.

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Saucy Note: The salad can be prepared up to this point several hours ahead. Keep the bacon separate until ready to dress and serve the salad. 

Mix bacon with vegetables. Add dressing a spoonful at a time, mixing gently between additions so it incorporates well but you don’t smash the avocados. The salad does not need much dressing because it is so flavorful, but the dressing is also delicious, so you decide how much you want to add. As a general rule, dressing should not pool in the bottom of the bowl, or in the case of a thicker dressing like ranch, it should not leave more than a thin residue on the sides of the bowl. Nobody likes overdressed salad.

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If there are any leftovers, this salad makes a great lunch topped with shredded chicken. I also highly recommend a healthy dose of your favorite hot sauce if you like spicy food-ranch and hot sauce are soul mates, so it really peps it up.

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