A quick and easy pasta salad covered with a savoury anchovy, parsley and ricotta dressing with pops of green peas and crispy prosciutto, we know you are going to love it. Great pasta with prosciutto recipe, perfect for lunches on the go and sunny outdoor picnics.
Ten Fabulous Picnic Food Ideas
I love a good outdoor picnic. Hanging out with family and friends. Eating alfresco. Watching the kids enjoy mother nature.
But packing for a picnic can sometimes be a challenge. As much as I like easy, I don’t like boring. Yes, a good sandwich would do the trick and feed my belly but doesn’t really get the taste buds moving.
So here are ten fabulous picnic food ideas (that doesn’t involve a ham and cheese sandwich) for your next outing.
- Crispy Roast Pork Banh Mi – Grab ½ kg of crispy roast pork from your local Chinese Roast Restaurant, chop it up and pack in a container along with homemade coleslaw and banh mi (Vietnamese bread rolls). Everyone can assemble their own appetizing roll at the picnic.
- Our Pomegranate, Barley and Freekeh Salad is a delicious and hearty grain salad to share outdoors. With pops of pomegranate, pine nuts and crushed peanuts, this salad is full of flavour and interesting texture.
- Mini bacon and zucchini frittatas – Simple to whip up and baked in muffin tray. Individual serves with no cutting involved and delicious cold.
- Our Prawn and Avocado Salad with Golden Kiwi is great to pack for lunch. Refreshing and easy to make.
- An artisan platter of flavoursome cured meats, cheese, olives and crackers. Who doesn’t like to nibble the whole way through the picnic?
- For something sweet, try our Summer Berry Salad with Sumac Dusted Meringues. Keep apple cider dressing and sumac dusted meringues separate until serving but easy to pack and assemble at picnic.
- Sliced crusty bread, your favourite dip and a selection of grilled vegetables – A generous layer of your favourite dip over crusty bread and topped with grilled vegetables pre-made at home or bought at local deli, simple to put together.
- And everyone loves a little sweet treat with a salted chocolate rocky road bar. It can’t get easier than mixing marshmallows, nuts and other sweet treats through a salted chocolate mixture and then freeze.
- Mushroom and Spanish onion puff pastry tart – an easy mixture of sautéed mushrooms and Spanish onion layered over a ready rolled puff pastry base with bocconcini dotted throughout and then baked in the oven. This tart is easily transported and eaten alfresco.
- And finally of course our Peas and Pasta Salad with Prosciutto!
Which Pasta Is Good For Salad?
Which pastas do you normally use for salad? Short pasta shapes like penne, fusilli, rotini and farfalle are best for salad as they have lots of nooks and crannies to trap the dressing and other delicious ingredients. And being short makes it easier to mix in a salad compared spaghetti or fettuccine.
Try to avoid using fresh pasta as they don’t hold up as well compared to dried pasta. The slightly chewy texture of dried pasta ranks it higher than fresh pasta when served cold and tossed in a salad.
For this recipe I used casareccia which is a Sicilian twisted tube-shaped pasta. The S-shaped pasta is great to catch and hold sauce which made it perfect for my prosciutto salad to trap the parsley salad dressing. However, you can use any type of short pasta that you have in your pantry.
Why We Love Peas and Pasta Salad with Prosciutto
Like a great warm pasta dish, I like to keep my pasta salads simple – just a few ingredients to create a luscious balance. Peas for freshness. Crispy prosciutto for texture. And anchovy and parsley dressing that magically ties it all together.
We love a good dose of anchovies in our house so it was a natural choice for me to use it as the salty element for the dressing. Blended with generous amounts of parsley and ricotta, the dressing becomes invitingly creamy.
Finally a good squeeze of lemon to create acidic balance that it needs. This dressing gives this pasta and prosciutto salad recipe a whole lot of oomph and flavour that is perfect to serve cold.
For vegetarians, I can easily convert this pasta salad by replacing the prosciutto with pine nuts and anchovies with capers. I would add 50g of toasted pine nuts and 1 ½ tablespoons of capers replacing the anchovies.
How to Make Peas and Pasta Salad with Prosciutto
How To Cook Pasta For Salad
For this recipe I used casareccia pasta and cooked according to package. Depending on the type of pasta you use, you will need to adjust the cooking time. I prefer to cook the pasta until al dente for salads. This is because you don’t want the pasta to become too mushy and want it to hold the dressing.
Overcooking the pasta will cause it to fall apart when tossing the salad. I’ve read other recipes where they cook the pasta a couple minutes beyond al dente as pasta hardens when it gets cold. However, for this pasta, peas and prosciutto recipe I didn’t find this. I still prefer cooking pasta to al dente to avoid over-soft pasta.
In a medium saucepan, fill ¾ with water. Add a good pinch of salt to the water. Seasoning is important in pasta salads as flavours can be muted when cold.
Bring the saucepan to boil and place 2 cups of pasta into rolling water. Cook pasta for 10-12 minutes until al dente.
Drain pasta and quickly rinse under water to remove any excess starch. Set aside for assembly.
Whilst cooking the pasta, add 1 cup of frozen peas and water to a small saucepan. Bring to boil and then turn heat down to simmer for another 2-3 minutes or until tender. Drain peas and set aside for assembly.
How To Make Crispy Prosciutto
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Line a tray with baking paper. Place strips of prosciutto onto tray without overlapping them.
Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until crispy. Turn oven off and take crispy prosciutto out to cool down on paper towel. They will continue to crisp as they cool. Once cool down, break crispy prosciutto into small pieces for salad.
How to Make Anchovy Parsley Dressing
An easy parsley salad dressing that works well with not only pasta but potato salad, cos lettuce salad or over steamed vegetables.
I used my food processor for this as it was the quickest way to zip everything together. You can finely chop everything if no food processor available.
Place anchovies, flat leaf parsley and garlic into a food processor and blitz until well blended. Add lemon juice and olive oil and blend until combined. Take the lid off food processor and stir in ricotta cheese until you have a creamy consistency.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. You may want to check the flavour before seasoning as the anchovies may have enough salty flavours that you don’t need extra salt for this parsley salad dressing.
How To Assemble The Salad
Literally toss everything together! Place pasta and peas in a large mixing bowl and add anchovy parsley dressing and coat pasta well. Make sure all the nooks and crannies have a good coverage of dressing. Scatter ½ crispy prosciutto into the pasta salad and mix.
Transfer salad to a large serving bowl. Scatter remaining crispy prosciutto on top to serve.
If taking on a picnic, I would refrain from adding crispy prosciutto to salad and keep them separately in a small container or sandwich bag. Add crispy prosciutto to salad when ready to serve at the picnic.
For gluten free options, ensure you have gluten free pasta and double check the prosciutto at the deli. Prosciutto is normally cured with salt and some spices therefore gluten free.
This is a deliciously moreish pasta, peas and prosciutto salad with the savoury anchovy parsley salad dressing. It will match perfectly with grilled meats, savoury quiche or other yummy picnic food items.
And this salad does well warm too! Keep pasta and peas warm before dressing and serve straight away. Great lunch meal for one or two!
More Nut Free Salad Recipes:
- Roasted Purple Brussels Sprouts Salad with Spiced Seeds
- Salad of Snake Beans and Grated Coconut
- Yellow Nectarine Salad with Grilled Halloumi
- Red Papaya Salad with Chilli Charred Corn
- Five Spice Tofu Salad with Vietnamese Ham
Easy Salad Dressing Recipes:
Peas and Pasta Salad with Prosciutto
- Fill water in a large saucepan and add a good pinch of salt to season. Bring water to boil and then add pasta. Cook pasta until 10-12 minutes until al dente. Drain pasta in a colander and give it a good rinse under water to remove excess starch.
- Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Line a sheet pan with baking paper. Place strips of prosciutto onto tray. Do not overlap them. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until crispy. Remove from oven and cool on paper towels. Once cooled down, break crispy prosciutto into smaller pieces.
- In a small saucepan, add peas and water. Bring water to boil and reduce heat to simmer peas for another 2-3 minutes or until tender. Drain peas in a colander and set aside for assembly.
- With a hand blender, blitz the anchovies, flat leaf parsley and garlic until well blended.
- Add lemon juice and olive oil and blend until combined.
- Stir in ricotta cheese until you have a creamy consistency.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. You may want to check the flavour before seasoning as the anchovies may have enough salty flavours that you don’t need extra salt for this parsley salad dressing.
- In a large mixing bowl, add pasta and peas.
- Add parsley salad dressing and coat salad well.
- Add ½ crispy prosciutto to salad and mix.
- Transfer salad into a large serving bowl.
- Scatter remaining crispy prosciutto on top to serve.
- Dried short pastas like penne, fusilli, rotini and farfalle are more suited for pasta salads and try to avoid using fresh pasta as they did not hold up as well with dressing.
- Don’t mix crispy prosciutto into salad if packing for picnic. Keep in a small container and add when you need to serve.
- Extra crispy prosciutto can keep up to 1 week in sealed container.