I was talking online to an old friend of mine and we were reminiscing about growing up in our sleepy little town. We talked about her favorite dish when she was a kid – salmon pea wiggle and I hated it. If her mother invited me over for dinner on that night, I always had too much homework. She told me they knew every time because that was the only time I didn’t want to stay.
Then she asked me if I remembered the bean suppers at the congo church. It’s really the Congregationalist Church but I never knew anyone who called it anything but the congo. I’ve told you before that everyone in our town had Boston baked beans with franks, brown bread and potato salad every Saturday night. If you didn’t feel like cooking, you could go to the congo church and they would have an affordable bean supper, a piano player and lots of people to talk to. What they also had that most people didn’t was pea salad and I loved it.
When I was going through my stash of recipes that my father sent me (he died in 1987), tucked in between two newspaper recipes was a little card that said, “Congo Pea” and it was carefully written in my father’s handwriting. He would never have eaten pea salad because he didn’t like mayonnaise very much. He was a meat and potatoes man and a huge dessert eater. He got that recipe for me and I smile every time I think about it.
- 500 grams frozen peas (I used baby peas)
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 small or ½ large red onion, finely chopped
- 2 hardboiled eggs, chopped
- ¾ cup cheddar cheese cut into small cubes
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish (try not to get too much liquid)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix through the dressing.
- Mix all ingredients together, taste for seasoning and adjust for your taste.
Tricia @ Saving room for dessert says
I love pea salad and my husband would flip for this one! Printing and tucking away to add to my dinner menu soon. Thanks so much for sharing this – love the back-story. Happy weekend!
Kathleen | HapaNom says
What a sweet story, Maureen. I absolutely love looking through old family recipes – the stained and dog-eared cards mean so much.
Great recipe! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Andrea @ Cooking with Mamma C says
I love recipes with a sentimental connection! How sweet of your dad to write this down for you. This looks so good!
This looks great! I feel like it’d be a great Easter side dish… I was just talking to my husband about what I would be making this Easter…. this one makes the cut!!
What a lovely story Maureen. I so agree with Kathleen. The salad looks wonderful and perfect for the kind of weather that we are having here.
P.S. – Lovely bowl in that first pic 🙂
Great reminiscence of the past, Maureen. I don’t recall my mom making any cold salad dishes featuring mayo for us when I was growing up. I think I had my first potato salad in my late 30s, something my brother served at a bbq at his house. I bet it’s a tasty dish for a warm summer day.
John@Kitchen Riffs says
I’ve had this salad! Or something really similar. But we’re talking distant past here, decades ago. Totally forgot about this dish, which is too bad — it’s a good one. Thanks for bringing it back!
Melissa B says
Such a lovely story! =)
I love pea salad, and I plan on trying your recipe soon!
Kelsey @ Snacking Squirrel says
I like the idea of a pea salad and i have so many peas to use up that this would be a splendid use of them. Really fresh and delicious looking!
Rachel (Rachel's Kitchen NZ) says
Great story to go with this recipe – Maureen – love have you called the congo church:) – reminds of something out of West Africa:)
Carol Preibis says
My husband, and many others I am sure, would like this recipe just as it is.
Oddly enough, I don’t like eggs, so I’d try the same recipe substituting potatoes.
I have a similar dish prepared by two different friends – one Polish, the other Russian.
Thanks for another great recipe!
Wishing you well,
Veronica (Roni) says
Oh wow! what an interesting childhood you must have had Maureen!
And how awesome that your father got the recipe for you!
It sounds unusual & foreign to me, but so interesting I am going to give it a whirl.
I imagine the ingredients would work well together…
thank you :))
Emma @ Bake Then Eat says
Oh what a lovely recipe to make from your dad’s recipe card. I secretly love peas so this is totally for me 😀
The Ninja Baker says
What a fantabulous story, Maureen…And a wonderful reminder of how much your father loved you =) P.s. Take me to the Congo! Those Boston baked beans and franks look to be as delicious as your pea salad with mayo =)
Liz Posmyk (Good Things) says
What an interesting salad Maureen… and I loved the tale behind it!
Marilyn Lesniak says
I never liked peas much as my mom always boiled them to death. This recipe though is more like a salad. I earmarked it to try.
I’ve never had pea salad before, but I love peas. Now I’m curious what this tastes like, must try. 🙂 Thanks for the recipe.
What a treasure in your dad’s handwriting! I had never even heard of pea salad till one of my college roommates made it for us. I became an instant fan. I haven’t thought of that in year—I think I need to whip up a batch of yours 🙂
Chris Scheuer says
I would have hated this when I was a kid but I’d love it now. I’ve never heard of anything like it and I know I would eat too much. If we ever meet up at the congo church, don’t sit next to me – I might eat your bowl too!
LOL 85% of our town were Catholic but you’d see many of them at the Congo church on Saturday night. Someone once asked the pastor at the Catholic church why they didn’t do something similar and he said they he think anyone could beat the Congregationalist cooks. 🙂
Amanda (@lambsearshoney) says
We seem to be having a very early autumn in the Adelaide Hills this year, and we’ve lit the fire for the last 3 nights running. I’m hoping for another few warm days to enjoy the last of the barbecues – and this pea salad will be on the menu. I think the kids will love it.
Chineka @ Savor The Baking says
This looks really good and is perfect for Spring.
Chineka @ Savor The Baking says
This salad is perfect for Spring. Love it!
Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen says
Salmon pea wiggle? I don’t blame you for wanting to dodge that one! However the pea salad sounds delightful and how sweet of your dad to get the recipe for you despite not being a fan of the dish. What a nice way to remember someone.
Hope you’re having a lovely weekend. Hx
Salmon pea wiggle was canned salmon in a white sauce with curly noodles and peas. I couldn’t bear it. 🙂
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
How wonderful that your father got you that recipe even though he wouldn’t have eaten it himself! I like the idea of the Congo church having food in case you didn’t feel like cooking.
Oh how I love this stuff! My other half hates green peas, so I get to enjoy all to myself!
The pea salad sounds delightful. Your not wanting to go to your friend’s house just because you didn’t like the menu..it’s funny.
Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) says
I have a recipe very much like this and I love it. And I’ve blogged about it…. and it was from a Church cookbook … and I need to make it again. 🙂
Lisa Goldfinger says
I love recipes that have memories attached. There are so many great things about this post Maureen – it brought me back to my childhood memory of being afraid to go to my friend Lisa S’s house for dinner because her mom always made us eat everything on our plate and I hated vegetables back then with a passion. I can so imagine being terrified of “Salmon Pea Wiggle,” even without knowing what’s in the dish! Great post, and your pea salad looks delish!
Thalia @ butter and brioche says
I actually really like pea salads, my grandmother makes one similar to this. Thanks for reminding me how delicious it is Maureen!
Anna @ shenANNAgans.com says
I was sifting through boxes from my moms today, found her granny’s cookbook loaded with absolute classics. I do so love a recipe that has a personal history attached. Great recipe too. I don’t much care for peas, but my family would very much. Hope you’ve had a great weekend. 🙂
Roz @ La Bella Vita Cucina says
I love the name Conga for your church! Plus loving this salad for spring . . . perfect for fresh peas! Happy Spring Maureen!
Oh how I WISH it were Spring here, Roz! You get Spring and we get your leftover Winter down here in Australia. 🙂
Marina Shaylitsa says
I’ve never had this salad but by the list of ingredients it looks like something I would like. I have frozen peas in the freezer so I think I’ll make it this week 🙂 Thank you for sharing Maureen!
This really made me smile, Maureen. I haven’t had this salad in years!! Not since I was a little girl. No doubt at a church potluck of some sort. 🙂
It’s funny how it changes the taste ! Now you love this salade and you are right because looks so good !
Katy | Her Cup of Joy says
Peas are great! Never heard of this salad but it looks so good and simple! Reminds me of an egg salad but with extra veggies 🙂
Jean | DelightfulRepast.com says
Maureen, our house was the only place in town you could get pea salad when I was growing up. Everyone in my mother’s side of the family made it, so I always assumed it was an English thing. We all do it a little differently; yours looks rather like my cousin L’s. But what on earth is Salmon Pea Wiggle?!
Salmon pea wiggle is a bechamel sauce with canned salmon and peas. My friend’s mother added curly noodles and she put crushed Ritz crackers on top and baked it until the crumbs were crunchy. It looked great but I couldn’t bear it.
Mary Frances says
Wow, what a unique recipe and interesting story to go with it!! I will have to try out this recipe soon! Perfect for the spring season.
Marissa | Pinch and Swirl says
I’m cracking up that you call the congregational church the ‘congo’ – such a nice tradition though to offer a meal, live music and conversation. I love this pea salad – my husband is allergic to peas such a bummer because I love them. I’m going to make this next time I’m on my own for dinner.
Love this story. Like your dad, my husband would never eat this salad either, he’s definitely a meat and potatoes guy. I on the other hand would eat this all day long! I love peas!
Hotly Spiced says
There’s a lovely history to this recipe. Over the summer I’ve made a couple of pea salads and I’ve loved them. I thought this had potato in it but I see it’s cheese. The salad looks really yummy and would be great with a BBQ xx
Abbe @ This is How I Cook says
I haven’t had a salad like this in years. I do remember eating one though only it had bacon in it! Love handwritten recipes, Maureen. Very special, indeed!
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
Salmon pea wiggle sounds absolutely terrifying.. I think I would have skipped the dinner invitation too ;).
That was such a lovely story, Maureen–I really loved that ending. It’s amazing what our parents do for us sometimes–the little things really do make all the difference. I’m also loving this pea salad recipe–this is definitely my kind of thing! So glad I found your blog via Shashi’s–I was checking the comments on her latest post and I saw yours on Dr. Seuss (I’m actually writing a research article on him ATM, hehe). Anyway, LOVE your blog–totally great to meet you here!!
Paola Fuentes says
Oh my! Pea salad, yum!
I might just try this out tonight! yum Giulia x
I love peas, this salad looks wonderful. Good idea for lunch or dinner.
Kate @ Babaganosh.org says
That looks awesome! I love mayonnaise based salads.
This reminds me of a Russian salad that I grew up eating with my family – it had potatoes, eggs, peas, pickles, and meat (we liked chopped hot dogs as kids!), with a mayo dressing. This version sounds really good too, and sounds like less chopping and less work!
Nupur Mehra says
What an interesting story Maureen! The salad is obviously lovely and refreshing and am sure addition of onion would uplift it higher.
What a great salad to bring along on a picnic! 🙂
Joanne T Ferguson says
I couldn’t go past your pea salad today Maureen as it brought a smile to my face as my mum used to make something very similar and just the memory makes the recipe yummy!
Ciao Florentina says
Oh I missed this post! This reminded me of a recipe I used to make as a child, only it had diced pickles in it and any leftover roasted chicken. So amazing, I have to make this now ! Thanks for awakening my memory Maureen! xo’s
Pickles and chicken in it? What a great idea!!
Debbie Russell says
I love pea salad. The only thing I would add is chopped water chestnuts. I love the crunch of the onion, celery and water chestnut. yummm. You have a winner there, Maureen.
Jean | DelightfulRepast.com says
Maureen, glad you tweeted this today! I love pea salad. I don’t make a mayonnaise pea salad myself, but my mother did and at least one of my cousins. I do a vinaigrette version (posted it a few weeks ago). Love your Pea Salad Story!