Sweet sugar snap peas, the main attraction of this salad, are bathed in a lemony vinaigrette and tossed with crispy pancetta bits, minced red onion, grated Pecorino and finely chopped fresh mint leaves. An instant hit in our house, we three ladled spoonful after spoonful of this crunchy, sweet and salty combo onto our plates. And, when the last bite of this summery, fresh salad had been eaten, The Bug tore off hunks of crusty sourdough bread to soak up the remaining drops of dressing at the bottom of the empty serving bowl. I decided to serve it again this weekend for friends who are in town, but thought it might be fun to include one additional ingredient in the mix — potatoes.
As I shopped at the Farmers Market, picking up sugar snap peas and red onions, I noticed a bin of small, yellow potatoes with rough skin.
My friends at Roots Organic Farm assured me that their German Butterball Potatoes would be lovely in a cold salad, but recommended that I keep an eye on the clock while cooking, and take the pot off the heat shortly before the potatoes were completely cooked through. They explained that if I let them sit in their cooking water for a few minutes off the heat, they would be perfectly cooked and their texture would be ideal for a salad. Their guidance was spot-on. These buttery orbs held their shape beautifully after slicing and added a creamy dimension to the salad. The only down side? Less vinaigrette for bottom-of-the-bowl bread-dipping.
Sugar Snap Pea and Potato Salad with Pancetta, Pecorino and Mint beautifully complements roasted or grilled salmon. It also pairs nicely with a grilled, marinated tri-tip. I marinated our tri-tip in this summery Garlic, Oregano, Orange and Cumin marinade from Melissa Clark’s A Good Appetite column from July 2008.
My adaption of Gail’s recipe from Union Square Cafe is below.
|Sugar Snap Pea and Potato Salad with Pancetta, Pecorino and Mint||
- 1/4 pound pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 4-5 Tablespoons kosher salt
- 1/2 lb. small potatoes (I used Butterball, but small red or Yukon Golds would work)
- 1 lb. sugar snap peas, trimmed at each end, and sliced on the bias in 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup minced red onion
- 1/8 cup lemon juice
- 1/8 cup Champagne or white wine vinegar
- 3/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp finely minced mint leaves
- 5 Tbsp grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 teaspoon Fleur de Sel or other sea salt (to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Dice the pancetta into bits and place it in a 10-inch sauté pan over low heat. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the fat is rendered and the bits are crisp. Drain pancetta on plate lined with paper towels. Set aside pancetta at room temperature. Grate the Pecorino and mince the red onions; wrap each separately and set aside in the fridge.
- Place the potatoes in a pot, cover with cold water, add a few tablespoons of kosher salt and bring to a boil. Check the potatoes at 8 minutes. If you can just pierce them with a paring knife, turn off the heat and let the potatoes sit in the cooking water for another 5 minutes until they are at the desired tenderness. Drain in the sink and cool. When cool, cut into 1/4-inch slices.
- Bring 3 qts water to a boil in a large pot and add 2-3 Tablespoons of salt (the water should be salty). Prepare ice bath. Prep the snap peas and then cook them in the boiling water for 2 minutes. Scoop the snap peas out of the boiling water, add them to the ice water. Leave in the bowl until read to use. Before dressing them, drain and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Combine the lemon juice, vinegar & olive oil in a measuring cup; whisk to blend. Mince the mint leaves.
- Place peas, pancetta, potatoes, onions, mint, cheese, fleur de sel and pepper in a bowl; pour half of the vinaigrette over the vegetables and stir the ingredients to mix well. Add more dressing as needed. Taste and adjust seasoning.