Creamy Crunchy Bacon Pea Salad

This is one delicious salad. My Grandma Smith was fond of these kinds of salads like carrot salad, roasted beet salad, and sauerkraut salad. These are folksy homey old-timey country salads with bright colors and flavors. They’re easy-peasy to put together. And they’ll go with almost anything like ham, any manner of chicken, pork chops, ribs, or grilled burgers. One batch will feed a crowd of 12 – sounds like picnic time to me!

Pea salad was made in the good old days with canned peas – yuck! Bags of frozen peas are the way to go. Their color is better. The peas themselves have a subtle crunch. Frozen peas taste so much better, too, ten times better than canned. And you don’t have to worry about sodium, which we do in our family.

Here’s a Tip or Two:

#1  I’m using more and more frozen vegetables nowadays. In a 12-ounce bag, you get all vegetables, no water. Frozen vegetables like peas & carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, diced or hash brown potatoes, and onions are prepared, meaning the only work you have to do is thaw them out. Or just add them frozen into your recipe. As an example, I dump a bag of frozen peas & carrots to the sauce for a tuna-noodle casserole. Or dump a bag or two of frozen broccoli florets into broccoli-cheese soup. Sometimes I’ll even use frozen chopped onions to start a mirepoix. You get the gist. Sometimes it’s just easier.

#2  I’m as big a mayonnaise fan as anyone. I’m beginning to substitute full-fat Greek yogurt for some of the mayo in recipes like this one. Yogurt lightens up the mix a bit and adds a nice tang. I like to make homemade salad dressings and Greek yogurt plays well swapped out for some of the mayonnaise. See Healthy Thousand Island Dressing for an example.

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P.S. I didn’t mean to take the picture for this post with lemons and avocados in the background. Avocadoes were on the counter when I decided to be creative. They are not in the recipe, but they are beautiful. Oops. Ha!


Creamy Crunchy Bacon Pea Salad
We love this pea salad.Creamy Crunchy Bacon Pea Salad is quick, economical, made tasty with a secret ingredient and the addition of toasted pecans. Swap out some greek yogurt for the mayo and it's healthier, too. If you love peas, you'll love this salad alongside ham, any kind of chicken, pork chops, burgers, etc.
Cuisine: American
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 10-12 servings
Prep time: 
Total time: 
  • 2-12oz. bags of frozen peas, thawed and patted with paper towels to remove moisture
  • ½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup red onion, diced
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • ⅓ cup full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 oz. bacon, cooked to crispy and drained on paper towels, broken or chopped into pieces
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries, lightly chopped
  • ⅓ cup pecans, toasted and lightly chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon flat leaf parsley, chopped (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, mix dressing ingredients. mayo, Greek yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Stir or whisk dressing ingredients.
  2. Add peas, cranberries, pecans, and cheese. Lightly toss.
  3. Add bacon and lightly toss until combined.
  4. Chill salad in the refrigerator for one hour.
  5. Serve.
  6. Note: Can make salad night before. But add the pecans, cheese, and bacon immediately before serving.


Roasted Broccoli Quinoa Salad with Pignoli & Tomatoes

roasted broccoli quinoa salad pignoli tomatoes

What’s the big deal about quinoa?

For one thing, quinoa is a complete protein source.  It is gluten-free.  Quinoa is a good source of fiber (One-half cup of quinoa has 14 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber.).  This mighty super-grain can help offset the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and has a wide range of anti-inflammatory nutrients.  Quinoa is not a cereal grass like wheat, oats, barley, or rye, but is a member of the same food family that contains spinach, Swiss chard, and beets.  One cup of cooked quinoa has a total of 222 calories, with approximately 39 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fat.  WOW! 

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Quinoa is one of the healthiest and most nutritious foods on the planet!  It may even become an “out-of-this-world” crop.  NASA scientists think quinoa is suitable to be grown in outer space.



at mimi's table roasted broccoli quinoa salad quinoa

Quinoa comes in a variety of colors:  red, black, white, or mixed (shown above) to compliment almost any main dish, or on its own mixed with other side dish ingredients or salads.  Heck, this salad can be gobbled up on its own!

Give this casserole from my recipe box a try:  QUINOA SPINACH ARUGULA & CHEESE CASSEROLE  YUMMY!!

Any way you look at it, quinoa is one super food health conscious cooks should include in their pantries.  For me, it has the texture of couscous, which I like.  Now that my husband and I are trying to follow a heart-healthy diet, I’m sure we’ll discover fantastic uses for this incredible, edible pseudo-grain.

Let’s make some up for lunch!

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Roasted Broccoli Quinoa Salad with Pine Nuts & Tomatoes
As a stand-alone salad or a side dish, Roasted Broccoli Quinoa Salad with Pine Nuts and Tomatoes is a healthy alternative to traditional dishes.
Cuisine: American
Recipe type: Salad, Side Dish
Serves: 3-6 servings
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 large or 2 small heads of broccoli, cut into florets or use frozen chopped broccoli thawed and well drained
  • 6 ounces sweet grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • ¼ cup + 1Tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1-2 Tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 2-3 Tablespoons honey
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, roasted
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Toss the broccoli florets with 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Place broccoli on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until broccoli is tender and golden.
  2. Cook quinoa according to package directions. Set aside.
  3. To make the dressing, combine dijon, honey, lemon, garlic, and ¼ cup of olive oil in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, broccoli florets, roasted pine nuts, and tomatoes.
  5. Serve the salad warm, cold, or at room temperature.
I would use the quinoa as a base and substitute lots ingredients and change up the dressing. Add sliced black olives, tomatoes, chopped red onion, and a handful of crumbled feta cheese for a Greek-inspired option. Or corn kernels, tomatoes, chopped red onion, and crumbled cooked bacon for a more American flavor. Diced avocado, tomatoes, chopped red onion, chopped cilantro, and shredded cheddar cheese, along with a honey-lime vinegarette?

And trade the honey-vinegarette for low-fat Italian dressing - Yum!

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Healthy Thousand Island Dressing

grannie geek healthy thousand island dressing & chef salad

This is one of my husband’s favorite dinners/lunches. Any grilled meat will be fabulous. Most likely, we make this salad from leftover grilled steak (I always grill an extra to have on hand for this exact purpose), or if we bring home a dogie bag from our favorite steakhouse. But, you could use grilled chicken or shrimp, too.

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Baked Chicken with Orzo Tomato Salad

grannie geek, baked chicken and orzo saladA quick totally fabulous dinner, this baked chicken and orzo salad is a great weekday meal that can be put together in 30 minutes. Do yourself a favor, and get a rotisserie chicken from your favorite outlet.  In Billings, I personally like the chickens from Costco. They’re perfectly seasoned, plump and juicy, and can serve a family of four for five bucks.

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Perfect Macaroni Salad

grannie geek, perfect macaroni salad
Perfect Macaroni Salad

My husband and I love macaroni salad.  I frequently buy it from the deli counter, because I really like the creamy, tangy consistency paired with firm noodles, sweet pickle relish, a hint of diced onion.

Over the years, I’ve made several batches, but none came close to the creaminess of the store bought kind.  The macaroni always absorbed all the dressing.

I couldn’t figure out what was going wrong.  Hmmmm . . .

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Japanese Soba Noodle Salad

grannie geek japanese soba noodle salad
Japanese Soba Noodle Salad

I’ve found a perfect summer side dish that is easy and quick to put together, perfect for a hot summer day.  These are seriously so delicious!

It’s made with Japanese soba (buckwheat) noodles.  I picked up a package at the local World Market, which, in Billings anyway, is beginning to stock more and more Asian ingredients.  The dry noodles are shorter than spaghetti, and are packed in neat little 3 oz. bundles – they’re very cute.  But, if you can’t find soba, this salad would be outstanding made with thin spaghetti.

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Creamy Coleslaw Dressing – with a little kick

grannie geek creamy coleslaw with a little kick
Coleslaw with a Little Kick

 As easy as coleslaw seems to put together, I’ve found literally hundreds of recipes.  Some folks like their cabbage finely shredded.  Others like cabbage chopped in small pieces.  There are variations with green onions, vinegar and sugar dressing, fennel – the options seem endless.  I absolutely love coleslaw, creamy and freshly made with celery seed and dill.

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Crunchy Asian Noodle Salad

crunchy asian noodle salad, grannie geek
In the mood for something different?

I love this recipe originally from Ina Garten.  My husband and I crave Chinese food and flavors, particularly this time of year.  In the winter, I tend to stick to the old standbys:  vegetable soup, chili, meatloaf, chicken and dumplings.  All great stuff, but during the seasonal transition from winter to spring, I thought it was time to challenge our taste buds – what about something Asian?  This dish came readily to mind believe it or not, because I had almost all the ingredients on hand.  This is not a light dish, and not something that leaps to the fore when it’s cold.  The noodles are served at room temperature, but I warmed up dinner with a couple of baked chicken breasts.  There are lots of vegetables, is it healthy, well you be the judge.  However, Crunchy Asian Noodle Salad is very satisfying.

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