My Go-To Thanksgiving Side

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By this point in one’s adult life, especially if you live in the Midwest, you should have a reliable side dish that you can make and take to family functions and potlucks. This is especially important if you rarely host any food-centric events. If people request that you bring the dish and it’s relatively easy to prepare, you have a crowd pleaser. Bonus points for the side if people who dislike certain ingredients, like peas, request it yearly.

I think this recipe was originally given to me from my mother, who made a copy of a recipe she had copied. This feels like a recipe promoted by the salad dressing company.

Recipe: Crunchy Pea Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes (plus chill time)

Serves 6-8

1 package (10 ounces) frozen petite peas or 2 cups fresh peas

1 cup diced celery

1 cup chopped cauliflower

1 cup coarsely chopped cashews

3/4 cup diced green onions

3/4 cup Hidden Valley Original Ranch dressing

4 strip bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled (very optional)

Step 1: Rinse peas in hot water (or steam until tender, if fresh) and drain.

Step 2: In a large bowl, combine the peas, celery, cauliflower, cashews, green onions and dressing; chill covered for at least 1 hour. Sprinkle bacon over the top and serve immediately.


I never add bacon and this is still popular. You can always put aside a vegetarian portion and add bacon to the rest.

Any ranch dressing will work. Low fat dressing is not recommended.

Hidden Valley Ranch actually works the best. I tried to veganize this recipe several times and used low-fat dressing once, but the results were horrible. You could probably find a combination of spices and a good vegan dressing to make this vegan, but don’t bother with a low-fat version.

Bowl of crunchy pea salad.
Crunchy Pea Salad
Original recipe, given to me from my mother around 2010. Interesting to find out that this is all local to Kansas City.

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