This recipe came about after I talked to my friend Jess Flemming, food writer for the St. Paul Pioneer press. Jess and I met last year when she did a piece on the restaurant I was working at. Jess recently dedicated a piece of flesh to pork: she agreed to get a tattoo of the Parma restaurant logo in exchange for an entire leg of prosciutto.
Needless to say, when she mentioned how much prosciutto she had, I thought of an old side dish we would serve in one of the Italian restaurants I used to work at-peas with prosciutto and onions. La Quercia is an American prosciutto maker from Iowa. They make a great product, try some if you can find it.
This recipe is a bit different than the original pea and prosciutto side since it contains fresh porcini and radish snaps, but you can leave them out if you don’t have any-it’ll still be great. Let me take a minute and fill you in on my favorite addition to the original recipe though since they’re a little obscure: radish snaps, a.k.a rat tail radishes.
Story goes that I got invited to the farm of some new friends for a pool party recently. The pool was great, but what really caught my eye was the gigantic garden next to it. As luck would have it our hosts were nice enough to give us a tour after we enjoyed the pool. They had everything you would expect in a large garden, squash, greens, beans, tomatoes, and berries, but there was one thing I picked out right away that I recognized as being rare: radish snaps.
Radish snaps, or rat-tailed radishes as they’re known in the gardening world are a fun, radish variation. Raw they can be very hot and spicy, but after blanching in a little salt water they’re mild, and I actually prefer them to cooked root radishes, which I find have a stringy mouth feel more often than a soft one.
I first remember seeing radish snaps a number of years ago through a farmer that grows only the funkiest ingredients: Chad Forsberg from Foot Joy Farms. Foot Joy Farms doesn’t even have an operating website, but that hasn’t stopped them from being known throughout the Twin Cities restaurant industry as the gold standard of obscure heirloom vegetables, most of the time with a price to match.
Getting back to the recipe, this is just a fun example of how you could tweak a basic recipe like peas and prosciutto. Radishes and peas are great (hence the addition of the radish snaps), peas and mushrooms are great too (hence the porcini). You might not think of radishes and mushrooms together often, but since they both pair with the peas, they get along with each other just fine here.
Peas With Proscuitto, Porcini, And Radish Snaps
Serves 4 as a side dish
- 2 cups diced fresh porcini (this weighed out to 1lb exactly)
- 2 cups shell peas (frozen peas can be substituted)
- ½ cup sweet yellow onion, diced
- 1 oz fresh prosciutto, sliced into ½ in ribbons
- 2 tbsp butter
- ½ cup radish snaps
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (chives or a mix of parsley and tarragon would also be great)
- 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil and cook the radish snaps for 10 seconds. Remove the radish snaps and chill in ice water, then drain and reserve until needed.
- Melt the butter in a saute pan and add the porcini. Season the porcini with ¼ tsp kosher salt and cook until they’re lightly browned and caramelized, about 5 minutes on medium heat.
- Next add the onions, prosciutto, and another tbsp of butter if the porcini have soaked up all the fat. Cook for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally until the onions are translucent and no longer raw.
- Add the chicken or vegetable stock and cook until evaporated, about 2-3 minutes. Add the peas and radish snaps and heat through, add the parsley. Finally double check the seasoning for salt and pepper and serve immediately.