Sunday, March 20, 2011

Springy salad with pancetta and peas and yes, orange juice

My mother dressed her salads with oil and vinegar - some herbs, salt, pepper and garlic. Nothing too fancy-schmancy. I was addicted. I scarfed up every lettuce leaf and drank any of the leftover oil and vinegar from the large wooden bowl during clean-up.`
`
I was 17 when I received knowledge of bottled salad dressings courtesy of my college cafeteria. I am and remain a late bloomer. I was amazed that there were other dressings called "Russian," "French," Ranch," and Blue cheese." To this day, my blue cheese dressing consists of pieces of blue cheese pieces in salad and then mixed with - oil and vinegar!


She didn't whisk the oil and vinegar together - she dressed it directly on to the salad, tossing until it pleased her. It always pleased me. I still think only Italians can properly dress salads although I will give a nod to the French who have whisked some mighty fine vinaigrettes in their time.
`
This salad adapted from Tastes of Italia, contains no vinegar much to my early chagrin. The acid is orange juice and it brightens and elevates the spring leaves. Which shakes me out of my certainty about the world. The world's salads seem to work best with vinegar. But here it is all sunshine and light with orange juice. I am evolving. Spring wafted from the salad bowl and calmed winter nerves. We were inebriated with the taste of spring.

Spring Salad with Peas and Pancetta
Dressing:
1/2 cup pancetta, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil (can use less)
3 tablespoons of fresh orange juice (I used twice that amount)
1 garlic clove, minced (or I think - a shallot would be good here)
1/3 cup chopped pecans (I used chopped hazelnuts and I used a lot more)
`
Salad:
8 cups spring baby greens (I added arugula and spinach)
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (or fresh peas if you can find it - lightly cooked)
1/2 cup Grana Padano, chopped or cumbled (I used freshly-shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano)
Kosher salt and pepper to taste



  1. In a small-medium skillet combine olive oil and chopped pancetta - cook for about five minutes (until pancetta is crisp).
  2. Add orange juice, garlic and nuts.
  3. Cook for two minutes (I cooked for 30 seconds).
  4. Remove from heat to cool.
  5. When dressing is cool, combine salad ingredients and toss with the dressing. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
`And while spring was being served, the moon took over the landscape. A fitting end to a week where I have become immersed in my new play Under a Midsummer Moon.
I am considering ending the play with my cynical teens chiming in slowly and quietly with:
"I see the moon and the moon sees me.
God Bless the moon and God bless me."
It's a slightly wicked thing to do to my teen actors. But it would be highly effective. And unexpected. Like orange juice for vinegar.

55 comments:

Torviewtoronto said...

colourful looking salad
lovely pictures

Amy said...

This is the perfect salad for the start of spring! I love the salty elements with the pancetta and parmesan! Delicious!

Sandra said...

This looks really good and delicious! Love your Spring colors in your salad and pancetta is just a plus for me..makes me smile!

Rebecca from Chow and Chatter said...

wow this is my kind of salad I had the bottles

Reeni said...

What a delectable salad - so many flavors and textures to keep my mouth happily busy! My Mom does much the same with salad - oil and vinegar and Italian seasonings directly onto the greens and its always perfect. I think it's their instinct.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Your salad sounds as good as all the words you write! Love your posts Claudia!

Pegasuslegend said...

I love the freshness of this! I just wished someone in this house loved peas as much as I do. I use to go pick them years ago! But they are not lovers of this nor aparagus.. similar taste.. I am just not going to deprive myself of this wonderful dish and make it for me~

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

This looks so delicious, Claudia! I love the combination of salty and sweet.

I have to admit my favorite salad dressing is a creamy blue cheese...I inherited a love of that from my dad when I was a child, as he always used that on his favorite salad of plain iceberg lettuce.

Anna said...

Oh my goodness, this is like my favourite salad. The textures and the colours, just beautiful! :) I used to hate peas, but as my palette has broadened, they are actually tasty little delights and go marvellously with so many things. :) Great salad! Thanks lovely for sharing!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I am reminded of my childhood too Claudia when vinegar and oil dressings were all I knew and they're still my salad dressings 99 percent of the time. I say no-no-no to bottled dressings.

Choices said...

I have been eating lots of salad lately for lunch. I like to add different things in my salads for a little variety, so this is perfect.
Good luck with the play.
Smiles to you.

5 Star Foodie said...

A delightful spring salad, love the pancetta and those beautiful bright green peas there!

A SPICY PERSPECTIVE said...

Gorgeous salad. I have no problem with OJ in the dressing. One of my favorite salad dressings is a perky mix of OJ and sparkling champagne vinegar.

Mister Meatball said...

Spring huh?

Guess that white stuff out my window's just doppio looking for a pasta- or a pizza-maker.

Beth said...

I love the unexpected! That really works! (Oh, and the salad looks great too.)

That Girl said...

In college, at the cafeteria salad bat, I used to always dress my salads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

We Are Not Martha said...

I think it's fabulous you didn't know about bottled salad dressings growing up!! And this salad looks amazing. I absolutely love peas and prosciutto in my salads :)

Sues

Anna said...

Yummm, that salad looks so fresh and delicious. Loved the prosciutto. Salty goodness.

whatsfordinneracrossstatelines said...

Lovely way to welcome Spring. I love orange juice in dressing now. Hope you have a great week.
-Gina-

Mary said...

Then use it! Your salad and dressing sound delicious. Your Mom was on to something :-). One thing I've found with simply dressed salads is a variance in the way people use the oil and vinegar. I was taught oil first. How about you? Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Claudia said...

Rebecca and Pat: Husband loves blue cheese and the kids are Minnesotan and must have their ranch - so we have bottles!

Mary: We always added oil first. Adding the vinegar was the fun tasting part. And I always wanted more.

Island Vittles said...

I can`t wait until my peas are up and producing! Raw peas from the garden, dressed in your delicious dressing....the joys of spring! Theresa

Jeannie said...

I love tangy dressing too so this should taste mighty good to me:) You have a way with words, but then you should know that already:D

I SICILIAN said...

I too use juices to dress my salads. They are a pleasant surprise to the palate

Angie's Recipes said...

What a fresh, light and delectable spring salad! I love it.

Lynda said...

This is wonderful looking salad Claudia...I haven't tried orange dressing before, but I think I will love it, especially on this salad. It just says spring to me and that's a good thing after this long winter!

Emily Malloy said...

Simplicity always makes for the best recipes. Love this and its memory!

Rosemary said...

Love this salad . . . love the way you learned salad dressings. We use the same blue cheese dressing! A drenched salad has no appeal. If I could only get Mr. Rosemary to abandon his bottled Ranch . . .

Deborah said...

What a perfect combination of ingredients!!

Kate @ Diethood.com said...

That's the salad dressing I grew up on, too! And guess what... that's the dressing I use to this day 99% of the time. :)

Lovely salad...love every flavor in there!
Thank you for reminding me of those warmer days that are approaching!

michelangelo in the kitchen said...

Claudia, you have the best blog! You cook and write marvelously! This salad looks delicious and I've got to try it. I have been making salad at home lately and we are liking. Thanks for this new recepe!

Barbara GF said...

This brought back memories of my mom and her salad-making, Claudia. She did the same thing, always telling me, "The generous man adds the oil, the miser adds the vinegar." I, too, would drink up the remaining vinegar (Who knew back then what an immune booster that is?)
Love your play and the moon - that was a Super Moon, for sure!

Roz from 'la bella vita' said...

Did we have the same mother, Claudia? My mother and aunts still prepare everything by hand and without any recipes. I cannot, simply cannot get the vinegar to oil ratio the same as hers, even if measured! This salad sounds perfect for spring and I'm needing some more interest to stay on this weight loss going on ! Thanks so much!!!!

Spicie Foodie said...

I love your salad and the dressing. I have to admit that I'm not the biggest fan of those thick creamy salad dressings, I prefer simple ones like your and your moms. Orange juice is no strange ingredient for me, I've used it and it's amazing.

Kim said...

The shot of the moon is beautiful and so perfect considering the name of your latest play.

The pea and pancetta salad with a burst of orange sounds heavenly and refreshing. Beautiful!

Dimah said...

Your salad looks lovely and flavorful!

Eva said...

The salad looks amazing, I absolutely love pancetta. And orange juice in the dressing? Sounds fantastic!

Catherine said...

Dear Claudia,

I grew up the same way...bottled salad dressings? My mom dressed her salad the same way yours did, and it was perfect every time! We would soak up the remaining dressings with some bread. Well I will give your salad dressings a try.. It sounds good to me..Thank you for the memories..Reading your memories of salad brought back mine. Blessings, Catherine xoxo

Fresh Local and Best said...

This post reminds me of a page I read in Thomas Keller's Bouchon cookbook. HIs technique is to dress with oil and toss, drizzle some vinegar and toss again and sprinkle with salt at the end so that there is something to adhere to. Simple oil and vinegar remains my favorite way to dress a salad, your mom stuck to a good simple combo.

myfrenchkitchen said...

Your salad certainly conmfirms the sunny and fresh days of spring...I have to admit. I'm one for a pungent vinaigrette, with more vinegar than oil, so to speak and not sweet, so as to not kill the delicate taste of a salad.Lovely salad!
Ronelle

Barbara said...

Love the peas and pancetta in your salad, Claudia! My mother always made a pea, egg and bacon salad...with other ingredients of course, but I always loved it. She mixed her vinaigrettes before dressing her salads, which is the way I do it.

FOODESSA said...

I'm addicted to salads especially with differest vinaigrette twists. This one with OJ is perfect. The added crunch from the pecan keeps it interesting ;o)

Btw...I was also a late bloomer to commercial salad dressing. I kind of got hooked on Dijon Honey ;o)

Have a great weekend,
Claudia

katiez said...

I haven't used bottled dressings since I left the US 15 years ago...
My mother did the German thing with cream, sugar and vinegar.... I need to ask her how she did that....

Lori Lynn said...

Hi Claudia - the spring salad sounds terrific, I think I might prefer red wine vinegar over orange juice...but I would certainly give the juice a try!
Sorry about your weather :(
LL

Anna said...

Totally agree with you, Italians knows best. My favorite salads are the ones you actually taste the ingredients. The dressing is a compliment. Your salad looks lovely and the salty pancetta makes it divine.

Miri Leigh said...

This salad looks so tasty- thanks for sharing!

Magic of Spice said...

I have always loved citrus on my salads, but then I am weird :) Beautiful salad and my kids would love the addition of the pancetta.
Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

mr. pineapple man said...

looks sooooo delicious!! making me hungry...again!

natalia said...

Ciao Claudia ! Your salad is really gorgeous ! I read you are planning a trip to Rome, if you would like me to I can help you ! Write me at my email address if you wish !

Nutmeg Nanny said...

This looks amazing! Totally scream Spring to me :)

Chef Dennis said...

what a gorgeous salad! I'm with you on the blue cheese, I love chunks of bleu cheese in a nice vinaigrette!
The only time I like like creamy bleu cheese is with my chicken wings!
We make all of our salad dressings at school, I'm trying to be a good influence on my girls....
Hope you had a wonderful weekend
Dennis

cajunlicious said...

Love the colors in the salad. This looks so delicious! Thanks for sharing.

Check out my blog @ http://cajunlicious.blogspot.com/

Kevin said...

What a great way to welcome spring and it's fresh produce!

OysterCulture said...

What a wonderfully refreshing sounding salad. Bright and sunny is right, I'm with you though, very partial to a nice vinegrette on my salad and always pleasantly surprised when something else comes up.

My Little Space said...

I like oil & vinegar in my salad sauce too but still unable to run without a spoon or two of mayo. ha... Still homemade salad sauce is the best. Your mom must be one great lady. Thanks for sharing such lovely recipe. Have a lovely day.
Kristy