Celebrate the glorious flavor of peas with this traditional Italian side
Is there a more quintessential spring vegetable than green peas?
Mix them with salty prosciutto + tangy olive oil, and you have a dish that’s verging on the addictive.
We’ll understand if you want to lick your plate.
Recipe: Sautéed Peas with Prosciutto (or Pancetta)
This dish makes an excellent side for grilled or roast meat, fowl, or seafood. You could also serve it as a first course. Or all by itself for a light lunch or dinner.
This dish traditionally is made with prosciutto, but pancetta is a frequent substitution. We’ll happily use either.
You can find dozens of recipes for this dish, and most are quite similar. Marcella Hazen is the source for ours (we adapted it from her Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking).
This dish takes about 15 minutes to prep and cook.
The recipe yields 4 servings. Leftovers keep for a couple of days if refrigerated in an airtight container.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (see Notes)
- 2 tablespoons shallots, finely minced
- ~2 tablespoons prosciutto, chopped into dice of about ¼ inch (about 2 ounces; may substitute pancetta)
- 10- to 12-ounce package of frozen peas (no need to defrost)
- 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- salt as needed (we usually add this at table; see Notes)
- freshly ground black pepper as needed (again, we often add this at table)
- Place a large frying pan over medium stovetop heat. When it’s warm, add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot (about 15 seconds – it’ll shimmer), add the chopped shallots and prosciutto, then sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add the peas, then stir to coat them with the olive oil. Sauté, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes (or until the peas are cooked through).
- Add the chopped parsley. Cook for another minute. Taste, then add salt and pepper if you like.
- Serve and enjoy.
- Prosciutto is pretty salty, so we usually don’t add salt to this dish. If you’re substituting pancetta (which is much less salty), you’ll probably need to add a bit of salt.
- Many grocers carry containers of chopped prosciutto and pancetta. If these aren’t available at your market, just buy a slice of prosciutto from the deli counter. Ask them to slice it ¼ inch thick, and you can dice it up at home.
- One common variation on this recipe skips the shallots and flavors the dish with garlic instead. If you want to try this: Sauté a whole clove of garlic in the olive oil until it’s just browned (no more than 2 minutes). Then remove the garlic (you’re using it to flavor the oil, not as part of the dish), add the prosciutto, and proceed with the recipe.
- Fresh, local peas would be great in this dish. But local ones are available for only a few weeks in the spring, so we generally use frozen peas when we make this dish. That’s no hardship, though – frozen peas have excellent flavor and are of good quality.
- We purchase frozen peas that are packed in 10- to 12-ounce packages. If using more (or less), adjust the recipe accordingly.
- If you’re using fresh peas, you’ll have to cook them longer. We usually add fresh peas to the frying pan in Step 2, then stir for a minute to coat them with olive oil. Then we add a couple tablespoons of water to the pan, cover it, and cook until the peas are done and the water has evaporated – about 10 to 15 minutes.
- BTW, you’ll need about 2 pounds of fresh peas in the shell to get 10 ounces shelled.
- You’ll taste the olive oil in this dish, so use good quality. We’ve seen recipes that increase the amount of olive oil from 2 to 4 tablespoons. The flavor is probably marvelous, but that would make for a very rich dish.
- Want a substitute for parsley? You could use chopped mint instead. Thyme or tarragon would probably work well too.
Two Peas in a Pod
“Love this dish!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “I vote pro-sciutto.”
“It’s pretty a-pea-ling,” I said. “Cham-pea-on, you might say.”
“You’re a peas of work,” said Mrs K R.
“Hap-pea to oblige,” I said. “Seconds?”
“Pretty peas,” said Mrs K R.
Glad she didn’t tell me to peas off.
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Oh yes, salty prosciutto and sweet peas are a great combination. I would definitely be licking my plate ;)
Hi Pat and Dahn, we definitely lick our plates when we make this! :-) Thanks for the comment.
John, this sounds so elegantly simple and delicious. For far too long, I didn't really think about peas, but now they are a welcome taste of spring to me.
I think prosciutto is glorious with all kinds of things. Great idea!
Hi Terry, it's easy to overlook peas -- we all have them in our freezers, and they often don't seem all that exciting. But they have terrific flavor! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Inger, prosciutto definitely is glorious! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Simple and delicious.
This side dish a-PEA-ls to me, too! And I know Bill would love it as well!
Delicious combo, I'll give it a try! :)
Hi Pam, exactly. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Liz, :-) A veggie dish every meat lover will enjoy! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Martha, bet you'll like it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I've never been a fan of frozen peas, but I love the fresh peas that are available this time of year, so thanks for the info on using fresh peas. This is such a delightful dish and again, so easy John, so I thank you big time!
Hi MJ, we do like easy. :-) Thanks for the comment.
We have been enjoying lots of peas lately too. This makes a great meal actually, with some crusty garlic bread. And of course proscitto makes everything taste better. A PEAS of work, Mrs. KR was right.
Great way to get the kiddos to eat peas. A little cured pork makes everything delicious. Simply a perfect way to celebrate spring.
I wish we would grow our own peas -- the fresh price is astronomical. But we do love frozen peas too.
best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
Hi Bobbi, cured pork does make anything delicious! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Angie, we actually did make a meal out of these. The garlic bread would have been wonderful -- wish we had thought of it! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Mae, we've grown peas, but they take a LOT of space for not that much harvest. So good, though -- peas cooked less than 30 minutes after harvest are incredibly good. Thanks for the comment.
At first glance, I thought this dish looked too simple for me, but I can see there are some great underlying flavors. Ezy- PEAzy!
Hi Fran, simple is about all we can handle. :-) Has to be good, though! Thanks for the comment.
This is a dish we used to make quite often as a side for Italian meals. It’s a great combination whether you use prosciutto or pancetta. Thanks for reminding me that I should make it more often.
Hi David, it's so easy to forget about dishes, isn't it? We do that way too often. Thanks for the comment.
Pork and peas! There's a reason that's an alliteration. GREG
Hi Greg, lol! Yeah, there is. :-) Thanks for the comment.
i had another giggle at you and the missus. funny guys! yes i usually use frozen peas too as they are so easy to use and always in my freezer. Have a hap-pea weekend :) Oh yes garlic with this please.
Hi Sherry, we do enjoy writing those endings. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This dish looks so pretty and delicious, and I use frozen peas whenever I can. Always have them in the freezer. Thanks for such a clever recipe, and an easy peasy one.
Big fan of peas. such a simple dish.
Hi Pauline, easy peasy indeed. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Nammi, simple and good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love peas! And I love the saltiness of the prosciutto mixed with the sweetness of the peas. Saving!
Hi Abbe, bet you'll like this. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Simple and lovely. I made something similar the last time I made beef Wellington. A great combination.
Hi Mimi, so simple yet SO good. :-) This would be terrific with Beef Wellington -- nice pairing! Thanks for the comment.
Ooo sautéed (in butter) green peas was the dish I would enjoy as a kid a lot. Unfortunately, I wasn't introduced to prosciutto back to those times yet :) Indeed, prosciutto is a great element that elevates a very simple dish to a different level. Absolutely delicious!
Hi Ben, prosciutto makes anything better. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Any leftovers would be great at room temperature the next day as a salad, too. Sounds so delicious!
Hi Carolyn, leftovers? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Some ingredients pair so well together and your peas prove the point.
Hi Karen, it really is a great combo of flavors. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I prefer Prosciutto because it tastes quite salty. But if the two sweet and salty flavors are combined into one, the taste must be even more unique.
Hi HS, we like prosciutto too, for the same reason. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Yum... that Prosciutto you've added really does making having our veggies so much more fun!
Hi Heidi, yup. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Such a vibrant and beautiful side dish. It would brighten any plate and table. :-) ~Valentina
What an incredible colour, this dish looks like a real winner! I love using frozen peas, we are able to get some with a real variety of sizes, so sweet.
Hi Valentina, we love the color in this dish! Flavor, too, of course. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Eva, frozen peas are something we always have in our freezer -- so versatile. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Your dish looks so peas-ful and deli-she-us.
I loved the Mrs conversations at the end and that makes reading your post more interesting.
I use peas while making matar paneer and aloo matar. I have to try your version to enjoy the delicacy with tangy olive oil. Thumbs up!
Hi Hasin, we love writing those conversations! :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is such a nice side dish!
Hi Raymund, really tasty stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This makes me to smile because I just had a dinner filled with peas. I love this kind of simple side dish. Peas are always welcomed in my house so I should give this a try soon.
Hi Holly, it's really tasty -- bet you'd like it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
It looks like a simple dish but is so full of flavour. I love how the peas looks so beautifully green and bright
Hi Taurna, the bright color is one of the best reasons to use fresh peas! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Right up my alley! I love this kind of simple but tasty dish. Perfect for this time of year.
Hi Frank, we love this too! :-) Thanks for the comment.
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