Peas and Pancetta is an easy and delicious holiday side dish made with peas, shallots, pancetta, and fresh mint. You can easily prepare the shallots and pancetta ahead of time, reheat with the peas, and turn this already easy holiday side into one that’s even easier.
There is something very familiar and comforting about peas. I remember growing up eating this humble vegetable…or is it a fruit?…no wait, it’s a legume… guys, I don’t know. Anyway, I remember eating frozen peas covered in salt and butter at least once a week all through my childhood.
A big fan of sweet peas, I was instantly attracted to this simple peas and pancetta recipe by Ina Garten. Filled with simple ingredients like peas, shallots, and pancetta, the combination of sweet, savory, and salty was almost too good to be true.
Serve this amazing side dish on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or any night of the week!
What is Pancetta?
Pancetta is a type of cured pork, just like bacon and prosciutto. It comes from the belly of the pig – or pork belly- and is unsmoked and seasoned with salt and spices. It can be enjoyed cooked or uncooked.
Possible substitutes for pancetta include prosciutto, bacon, ham, or mushrooms.
How to Make Peas and Pancetta
Start by heating a little olive oil in a large skillet. Add the shallots and the pancetta. Cook the shallots and pancetta, stirring often until the pancetta is golden brown and the shallots have softened. Next, add the peas, salt, and black pepper. Mix well and continue to cook just until the peas are hot, about 5 minutes or so.
Fresh peas or frozen peas? You may make this recipe using either fresh or frozen peas. Frozen peas are beneficial for many reasons, mostly their convenience. However, I enjoy the brightness and freshness of fresh peas.
Frozen peas do not need to be thawed before cooking.
To make this recipe using fresh peas, I highly recommend blanching your peas in boiling water for 1 minute, followed by an ice water bath to stop cooking (before adding the peas to your skillet with the bacon and the shallots). I have found that blanching the fresh peas first results in peas with better consistency and overall brighter color.
What is Blanching?
When you blanch a vegetable, you are essentially boiling it for a very short amount of time (in this case, just 1-2 minutes). You immediately drain the boiling water and transfer the vegetables to an ice water bath (a bowl filled with ice water) to stop additional cooking and then drain the water again.
Blanching helps remove enzymes that cause bitterness. Blanching also enhances and preserves color.
- Add a splash of heavy cream in the last couple of minutes of cooking for creamy peas and pancetta.
- Try caramelizing your shallots – just like caramelizing onions. You can even do this the day before.
- Swap the pancetta for prosciutto or bacon.
Have you tried making Peas and Pancetta?
Tell me about it in the comments below! I always love to hear your thoughts. And tag me #theforkedspoon on Instagram if you’ve made any of my recipes, I always love to see what you’re cooking in the kitchen.
Peas and Pancetta
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the skillet is hot, add the pancetta and shallots and sauté until the pancetta is browned and the shallots have softened approximately 5-6 minutes. Stir often to prevent burning.
- Add the frozen or blanched fresh peas to the skillet with the pancetta and shallots. Stir well to combine. Cook for approximately 4-5 minutes, or until peas are hot and cooked to desired doneness (avoid overcooking as they will wrinkle and shrink).
- Remove from heat. Stir in the black pepper, salt, and fresh mint to taste. Enjoy.
- If you are using fresh peas, I recommend blanching them in boiling water for 1 minute before adding to the pancetta and shallots. To do this, bring a pot of water to boil. Add the peas and boil for one minute. Drain the peas and immediately transfer to a bowl filled with ice water. Drain again. When ready, add the peas to the skillet and cook according to recipe instructions.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)