Dress Up Bland Canned Peas By Making Them The Star Of A Salad

Pea salad
Pea salad - Miriam Hahn/Tasting Table

Canned peas are rarely the star of the show when it comes to making vibrant, exciting salads. However, with a little ingenuity and a dash of creativity, you can dress up these bland bad boys, transforming them into the most delicious element of your next ensalada.

While canned peas have a softer texture and more subdued color than fresh and frozen varieties, they're an excellent pantry staple with many nutritional benefits. Plus, using peas from a tin eliminates all the prep work that comes with using fresh peas; say adios to shelling, blanching, and cooling these finicky fellas before you can toss them through your slaw or veggie medley. Better yet, there are heaps of ways to enhance the natural sweetness of canned peas, such as dressing them in a powerful vinaigrette, sauteing them first with onions, bacon and Parmesan, or charring them up on a dry pan to lend them a smoky note and appetizing texture.

Team your peas with an array of crunchy vegetables and you'll create the perfect, delectable combination that will leave you wondering why you ignored that can in the back of your kitchen cabinet for so long. But before you get started, bear in mind that some canned peas are packed in brine, sugar and preservatives to lend them extra flavor and palatability. Make sure to drain and rinse your peas to remove the excess salt from the surface before using them in your salad recipes.

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How To Add Flavor To Canned Peas

Canned peas with spoon
Canned peas with spoon - Photosiber/Getty Images

Adding canned peas to a highly flavored dressing intensifies their taste before they're tossed through a salad. All you need to do is blend together piquant ingredients, such as dijon mustard or vinegar with a fruity olive oil and seasonings to create a lip-smacking vinaigrette for the peas to soak up. Then you can stir them through your prepared veggies or employ these scrumptious morsels as yummy salad toppers. The soft interior of the canned peas means they team well with crunchy ingredients that don't wilt or lose their moisture as they sit, such as shredded cabbage or fennel, which works to create an appetizing salad with textural counterbalance. In this springy pea salad recipe, it's the freshly sliced radishes, crisp butter lettuce, and snappy snow peas that provide that crunchy element that the yielding peas require.

Another way to elevate canned peas is to warm them through with a spoonful of brown sugar. While this technique may sound unusual, it lifts the subdued flavor of the peas and turns them into moreish additions in salads that already feature sweet and salty elements. For example, sweetened canned peas are perfect in a Russian salad that often combines chopped apples or halved grapes with boiled eggs and potatoes.

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