Snap Pea Salad w/ Pancetta, Parmesan & Mint

snap pea salad mep

I must say that the genius of this recipe is fully credited to Chef Carmen Quagliata of Union Square Cafe in New York City.


There's something about the texture of the julienned snap peas mixed with the savory pancetta, salty parmesan and bright mint that is so utterly satisfying.  It's tossed in a lemon vinaigrette which heightens the dish to a new level.

snap pea salad

I've spent many hours of my life sitting at Union Square Cafe's bar because it is one of the most warm, comfortable and welcoming restaurants I've ever been to (not to mention that the food and wine is superb)- and I'm not saying this just because I worked there.

Now that I live in Los Angeles, I cannot visit NYC without a meal at USC.

Recipe adapted from Carmen Quagliata, Union Square Cafe

INGREDIENTS: (makes 4 appetizer portions)

  • 14 oz. blanched snap peas
  • 5 very thin slices of pancetta (about 2 oz.- I used Applegate Naturals)
  • 2 tbsp. finely sliced mint
  • 2 tbsp. grated parmesan
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp. meyer lemon juice (regular lemon can be substituted)
  • kosher salt to taste (plus additional for blanching the snap peas)
  • cracked black pepper to taste

For the snap peas:

-Bring a large, heavily salted pot of water to a boil.
-Have ready a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
-When water is at a rolling boil, blanch the peas for 30 seconds. The peas should turn bright green and still have a bite.tip1
-Transfer to the ice water bath and remove when peas are fully chilled.
-Drain and gently pat dry with a paper towel.
-Julienne the peas by cutting them in on a sharp diagonal. Set the sliced peas aside in the refrigerator.

For the pancetta:

-Preheat oven to 350° F.
-On a sheet tray lined with parchment paper (un-greased), place pancetta and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crispy.tip2
-Roughly chop into small pieces; reserve.

To finish:

 -In a bowl, mix together the julienned snap peas, pancetta, mint, 75% of the parmesantip3 and olive oil.
-Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper.tip5
-Gently mix together and plate.  Top with reserved parmesan.

My tips:

1.  Don’t smother the pot, you may have to work in batches depending on the amount of water.
2.  Depending on the type of pancetta (size/thickness, etc.) purchased, cooking time may vary.
3.  Reserve 25% of the cheese to garnish the finished dish.
4.  Adding the lemon juice after coating the peas with olive oil preserves the color of the peas.  If you choose to make this salad ahead of time, add the olive oil and lemon juice just prior to serving. 5.  Keep in mind while adding the salt that the pancetta and parmesan is already salty.  Taste before you add the salt.