This fresh pea salad is the perfect side dish for any summer barbecue or winter holiday party. It’s made with pesto sauce, mozzarella cheese and prosciutto. FYI, it’s not grandma’s old-fashioned pea salad. It’s BETTER.
This post is all about how to make DELICIOUS Pesto Pea Salad.
This recipe is different than the traditional version you might have grown up with. Instead of using bacon and cheddar cheese, this pea salad recipe calls for prosciutto, shredded mozzarella, thinly sliced red onions, and a homemade pesto sauce base (instead of mayonnaise) that will awaken your taste buds!
It’s chilled to perfection and also makes for a great salad or pasta topper. BTW, please DO NOT be intimidated by the homemade pesto. I promise it’s EASY to make. With some chopping and a little blending, you’ll be serving fresh Pesto Pea Salad in no time.
So, let’s get into the tricks and tips of what makes this recipe stand out from any old-fashioned pea salad you might have tasted before. Beware, because this dish is so gourmet and versatile, your guests will be thinking you slaved all day in the kitchen. 🤣
PESTO PEA SALAD RECIPE
WHAT INGREDIENTS WILL I NEED?
PEA SALAD INGREDIENTS:
- Frozen Peas
- Pesto Sauce
- Black Pepper, cracked.
- Green Onions
- Mozzarella Cheese
- Red Onions
HOMEMADE PESTO SAUCE INGREDIENTS:
- Fresh Basil Leaves
- Pecans, Pine Nuts, or Walnuts. (Whichever nut you prefer, I like pecans.)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Black Pepper, cracked.
- Parmesan Cheese (OR I always use a shaved blend of Parmesan, Asiago, and Romano Cheese.)
EASY TIPS & TRICKS FOR MAKING PESTO SAUCE
If you don’t enjoy mincing garlic cloves or the smell it leaves on your hands, purchase a tub of fresh minced garlic from Costco. It’s life-changing! And you can store it in the refrigerator for months. Of course, always check and follow expiration dates.
I usually freeze mine in a ziplock bag, so I don’t have to worry about the garlic expiring. I then break off a frozen block with a knife as I need it for cooking.
If you’re not a Costco member, you can purchase Kirkland Fresh Minced Garlic on AMAZON.
THE BEST EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
It’s important to use high-quality olive oil when making pesto sauce. According to New York Magazine, California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the best to use OVERALL.
Purchase California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil on AMAZON.
AWARD-WINNING BELGIOIOSO SHAVED BLEND OF ASIAGO, PARMESAN, AND ROMANO CHEESE
I use the BELGIOIOSO cheese blend in my pesto sauce recipe instead of pure parmesan. I keep a bag of this gourmet shaved cheese in the freezer at all times. It’s also a great topper for salads, pasta, and pizza.
Purchase BELGIOIOSO Shaved Blend of Asiago, Parmesan, and Romano Cheese on AMAZON.
OR A Smaller 8-ounce Bag at WALMART.
NINJA FOOD CHOPPER
A Ninja Food Chopper is perfect for blending pesto sauce and according to Consumer Reports It’s one of the BEST to own. It’s easy to use, affordable, and holds up to 16 ounces of liquids. You can also mince, chop, and grind with this chopper.
Purchase a Ninja Food Chopper on AMAZON.
If you’re looking to purchase an actual food processor, Good Housekeeping and Consumer Reports voted the Breville Sous Chef 12-Cup Food Processor as the BEST OVERALL to own.
Purchase a Breville Sous Chef Food Processor on AMAZON.
DO I REALLY SERVE PESTO PEA SALAD COLD?
YES! Pea Salad should be served cold and not just because it tastes better that way. Since this side dish contains cheese, a dairy product, it mustn’t spoil in any way.
Be sure to let the pea salad chill for two to three hours before serving. This accomplishes two things. It ensures the salad is served at a proper cold temperature, and it gives the peas time to marinate with all the added flavors.
HOW MANY WAYS CAN THIS SALAD BE SERVED?
This all-year-round VERSATILE dish can be served by itself as a side at a summer barbecue or even for Thanksgiving dinner. There are NO RULES on how you should serve this salad.
Many add Pesto Pea Salad as a topper to a green salad, using baby spinach or romaine lettuce. You can also cook up any pasta and add it on top, with chicken, shrimp, or served by itself. Because of the pesto sauce base, this dish easily transitions as a salad dressing or pasta sauce.
HOW IS THIS RECIPE DIFFERENT FROM CLASSIC PEA SALAD AGAIN?
A classic pea salad recipe often includes a dressing made with a mayonnaise base, lots of cheddar cheese, and bacon. Pesto Pea Salad is a fresher and lighter-tasting dish, even though it does include some cheese and prosciutto. Its ingredients are much healthier and include good fats such as olive oil and nuts.
HOW WOULD I STORE PESTO PEA SALAD LEFTOVERS?
First off, it would be a rare occurrence for there to be any Pesto Pea Salad leftovers because it’s that GOOD. But on the off chance you have some, you can store them in the fridge for up to four days. Be sure to cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap or put the peas in an airtight container.
PESTO PEA SALAD RECIPE
- Food Processor or Ninja Food Chopper
Pesto Pea Salad Ingredients
- 2.5 cups Frozen Peas. Wash peas thoroughly to remove the frozen taste.
- 4.5 tbsp Pesto Sauce
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper, Cracked.
- 2 Green Onions, Chopped.
- 1/2 cup Mozzarella Cheese, Shredded.
- 2 Prosciutto slices, Chopped.
- 1/8 Small Red Onion, thinly sliced and used as a garnish.
- 1 cup Fresh Basil leaves, packed.
- 1/4 cup Pecans, pine nuts, or walnuts, (pick one) chopped. See roasting instructions below.
- 3 garlic cloves, minced or 2 teaspoons of minced garlic from a jar.
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/8 tsp Black Pepper, Cracked.
- 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese or a shaved blend of Asiago, Parmesan, and Romano Cheese.
Pesto Pea Salad Instructions
- Rinse off peas thoroughly to remove the frozen taste.
- Next, add peas, pesto sauce, salt, black pepper, and green onions to a medium bowl. Mix ingredients thoroughly.
- Add mozzarella and prosciutto bites to that same bowl and mix.
- Lastly, lightly garnish the top with thinly sliced red onions.
- Allow the Pesto Pea Salad to chill in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours. This dish can be made the night before.
Pesto Sauce Instructions
- Roast 1/4 cup of chopped nuts in a skillet over medium heat. It will take approximately five minutes for them to brown.
- Next, add basil leaves, roasted nuts, minced garlic, salt, pepper, cheese, and olive oil to a Ninja Food Chopper or some food processor.
- Grind ingredients together until they're completely blended. Refer to the pesto picture in the article.
- Serve immediately.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THIS PESTO PEA SALAD RECIPE
If you’re looking for a delicious and versatile dish that can be served in several ways, this is the recipe for you. If you want to impress guests or bring the ultimate side to a potluck, this Pesto Pea Salad Recipe is also for you.
Whether you choose to eat it next to a cheeseburger or as a topping on your salad or pasta, your taste buds will be WINNING. If you have any questions, tips, or want to share your thoughts on this AMAZING Pea Salad Recipe, leave a comment below!