Luncheon, like medication, handbag, and pinochle, has always been a word I associate only with old people. But no longer, because now, for no specific reason, I will always associate the word 'luncheon' with this stuffed tomato salad.
Remember when I told you about how there are only two non-mayonnaise based salad recipes in the box? Well, this is one of the mayonnaise ones. Technically, it's supposed to be made with Miracle Whip, but for several reasons, which I shall enumerate below, I chose instead to make this with mayonnaise. Here are those reasons:
A) I find mayonnaise to be utterly disgusting. So disgusting, in fact, that I can't tell the difference between it and Miracle Whip, because I have never tasted either one by itself (shudder), but they have the same bottle, general colours, and texture, so I've always assumed they were basically the same.
B) I couldn't find Miracle Whip at the grocery store here, and I tried two different shops. This is not to say it doesn't exist in Britain, but I couldn't find it and I knew Judson and I wouldn't be able to tell the difference, so here we are.
C) Did I mention how gross I think mayonnaise is? I'm literally feeling ill just sitting here writing about it.
Anyway, I decided to make this recipe because the tomatoes here in the UK, by Judson's calculations, are 238% better than those in America. Science has not yet determined why this is, since the British climate is hardly suited for tomatoes, but it's true. So when we visited the farmer's market on Saturday (usually a weekly activity, but we've missed the last month) and I spotted these still-on-the-vine bright yellow beauties, I knew it was time for... Crunchy Pea Salad.
This dish just begs to be served on a leaf of iceberg lettuce, with a glass of iced tea, and a dessert of... I don't know, because I was only around for half of the 1980s, but maybe some kind of black forest thing? Basically, if you were ever teleported to a 1980s baby shower, I am pretty confident this would be what you ate while you were there.
Strangely, the peanuts (what I was most worried about) were actually not bad, and the salad was astoundingly crunchy (all except the peas), which was also really surprising. However, I'm not a big fan of beefsteak tomatoes, even if they are yellow, and I really don't like mayonnaise, so I'm gonna have to stick with a fairly low verdict on this. Possibly part of the problem is that we tried to make this a main course when it should have just been a starter, but still, I wouldn't advise you make it unless you like mayo more than I do. If you DO like mayonnaise, though, give this a whirl, because the art of stuffing a tomato is a dying one, and I shouldn't be the only person carrying that torch into the year 2016.
2 spoons out of five. The flavour was great, and it was kind of fun to eat a stuffed tomato, but by the time I was halfway through, I was pretty done with mayonnaise altogether. Judson, ever the good sport and less hateful toward mayonnaise than I, concurs with the two spoon rating. But if you ever find yourself hosting a Ladies' Luncheon from a bygone era, this is truly the recipe for you.
Crunchy Pea Salad
Pour Italian dressing into a medium-sized mixing bowl, then add red onion and stir well.
Add mayo or Miracle Whip and stir well until smooth like yogurt (this will take a few minutes).
Add remaining ingredients and stir gently until well-blended.
Turn tomatoes upside down and slice almost all the way through, in eighths.
Using a small spoon, fill tomatoes with salad and serve.
Yields 8 starter portions or 4 main course portions, if you really like mayonnaise.
¼ – 1/3 c Miracle Whip or mayonnaise
¼ c Italian dressing
10 oz frozen peas, cooked and chilled
1 c celery, chopped
1 c peanuts
4 oz lardons or bacon, cooked until crisp
¼ c red onion, chopped
Black pepper to taste
8 medium to large-sized tomatoes