Nothing says springtime like fresh peas. As a kid, I remember shelling peas at my cousin’s house. Those were probably English shelling peas, not sugar snap peas like the ones I use in this recipe. But preparing this dish instantly brought me back to those spring nights.
We would sit on the porch in the shade, methodically cracking open each pod. Each pea would break free with a satisfying pop before falling into a big bowl. We’d each eat several handfuls, but most of the peas were reserved for my aunt’s pea cheddar bacon salad. I think the recipe was something like this one.
You can usually find fresh sugar snap peas in bags in your grocery store’s produce section, but in-season peas from the farmers market, if you can get ‘em, are SO worth it. April and May are peak pea season here in the Pacific Northwest, with sugar snap peas coming on first and shelling peas coming on later.
If you can find peas at your farmers market, chances are, you can probably find pea shoots. The tender greens are mild and act as a great backdrop for the other bold flavors in this salad. If you can’t find pea shoots, any delicate green will do. (Please disregard the bunch of mint in that first picture below. I thought it would pair nicely with the peas and prosciutto, but it just overwhelmed.)
Along with peas come asparagus. The little green stems are one of my favorite vegetables, so I never miss an opportunity to throw them in a dish. An asparagus shopping tip: the skinnier the stalks, the more tender they’ll be.
Now that we have the healthy things out of the way… on to the fun stuff! Parmesan and asparagus always go beautifully together, and there was never a better match than pork and peas. The crunch and pop of the vegetables are the perfect foil to the earthy saltiness of the cheese and the fatty saltiness of the prosciutto. A bit of shallot gives the salad a delicate zing, and the dressing seals the deal.
Prosciutto Pea Salad
For the salad
- ½ pound sugar snap peas
- 1 pound pea shoots (see note)
- ½ pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 3-6 ounces prosciutto, torn
- 5 ounces parmesan, shaved
- 2 tablespoons shallots, sliced thin
For the dressing
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ tablespoon honey
- ½ tablespoon dijon mustard
- Pinch sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Wash peas and pop pods open by tearing off tough stem end and pulling. The stem should pull strands with it, acting like a zipper (see picture). Gently squeeze the pods to pop them open.
- Prepare remaining salad ingredients and combine in large salad bowl, tossing with your hands.
- Whisk dressing ingredients together. Serve salad in bowls and sprinkle dressing on top. The salad is already very flavorful, so a small amount of dressing does the trick. Enjoy!
- Try to buy the skinniest asparagus (asparagi?) available. Thin stems are more tender. If you can’t find skinny asparagus, feel free to sauté the asparagus for a few minutes to soften it.
- If you can’t find pea shoots, you can substitute arugula, microgreens, frisée, endive or any other delicate green.
- To shave the parmesan, I cut the wedge into a thin chunk an inch or two wide, and I use my potato peeler on it. Works like a charm! Store dressing in a separate container to avoid wilting.
This is the ultimate spring salad. As such, it’s perfect on its own, with a crisp rosé, topped with a poached egg, as part of a picnic spread, or as the starter in a full Sunday dinner.