Friday, December 11, 2015

Sugar Snap Pea Salad

Last Year's Post: Bang Bang Turkey
Two Years Ago:  Sausage and Cheddar Breakfast Strata

I saw this interesting treatment for sugar snap peas on a food network show and just had to try it.  The original recipe was supposedly for a side salad but I made it heartier by adding Gruyere cheese and walnuts in addition to the pancetta and sugar snaps, which made a great and satisfying dinner.  You could certainly serve it as a side salad if you want and probably eliminate the pancetta and cheese.  (Or not.)  It would be particularly spectacular on a holiday buffet table, don't you think?  Don't make the mistake of thinking this is some wimpy food just because it's a salad based on a vegetable.  It has BIG flavor and BIG crunch.

The treatment for the sugar snaps is really easy - blanch in boiling water for 15 seconds to set the color, then shock in ice water to stop the cooking.  Remove, pat dry, and cut in half lengthwise.  The result is really pretty and some of the peas stay in the pods and some fall out, giving your salad some textural contrast.  I love it.

Pancetta is my new-found substitute for bacon because one of my pet peeves is how thick bacon has become. Why does everything have to be super-sized?  One of the great things about bacon is (was) its crispness.  When you have thick-cut bacon (or even worse, slab bacon) the best you can possibly hope for is chewy and greasy.  I once went to a new restaurant and was excited when they asked me whether I wanted my bacon medium or well done.  I should have known just by the question.  The bacon was definitely well done but it was so thick that the result was a literally inedible piece of bacon jerky.  Pancetta, on the other hand, is available in your deli aisle and is cut beautifully and elegantly thin.  The only downside is that it's so thin that it can go from perfect to burnt in about 2.3 seconds.  Mine was about 1 second away from being burnt but it was perfectly crisp and tasted just like great bacon.  The lesson here is keep an eye on your pancetta even though I reduced the roasting time in the recipe slightly when I re-wrote it.  I wandered away and was busy being entranced by the sugar snaps until the pancetta timer went off.  Do as I say, not as I do.

oof, that was close....
The Lawyer pronounced this salad "really, really good" so that's good enough for me.

print recipe
Sugar Snap Pea Salad
Serves 4 as a main dish, more as a side dish

¼ pound pancetta, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
1 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup minced red onion
½ cup Gruyere cheese, cut into small cubes (or your favorite cheese)
½ cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the pancetta slides on a baking pan and roast for 7-8 minutes until browned and crisp, watching closely so they don’t burn.  Remove from the oven and place the pancetta on paper towels to drain.

Meanwhile, bring 2-3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 1 teaspoon of salt.  Fill a large bowl with ice water and have a large sieve or colander ready in the sink.  Put the snap peas in the boiling water for 15 seconds, then immediately drain and put into the ice water.  Cool completely, drain and pat dry.  Cut each snap pea in half lengthwise and place in a large bowl.

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Add the red onion, cheese and walnuts to the bowl with the snap peas and crumble the pancetta over the top.  Pour enough vinaigrette on the salad to moisten and toss well.

No comments: