Fancy Up Your BBQ Side Dish (And A Rant): Warm Buttered Pea, Potato, Herb and Prosciutto Salad

Warm Buttered Potato, Pea and Prociutto Salad

Originally, I was going to simply write a one paragraph post helping people understand that they should not be afraid to use butter when necessary. Unfortunately, I realized how much emotional turmoil I have when it comes to this subject and others. A nice recipe for a Buttered Pea and Potato Salad had somehow turned into a major rant against fake butter and “light” olive oil. I apologize to any margarine lover and extra virgin olive oil hater I may offend in the process of reading this post!

I think (and hope) that our countries obsession with being and eating “fat free” is pretty much over. When the Atkins Diet was the biggest thing I started worrying that the earth was coming to a quick end and we’d all die skinny but sad and craving a steaming bowl of pasta. Why are some Americans so obsessed with supposedly eating “healthy” when they are actually eating completely unhealthy?

Fresh Shelled Peas

Substituting crap like margarine for butter is ridiculous. I think that this WikiAnswer explains why. In fact, this Serious Eats post helps put into perspective the vast number of fake butter “spreads” that exist around the world. How sickening that people want to buy a product that actually tells them it is NOT butter? Hello, people! They are telling us loud and clear that this is something created to taste like a real, natural product but isn’t! Then why not eat the real thing? I’m so confused.

And while we’re discussing Americans ability to be a sucker for lower fat items while being willing to compromise it for lower quality, lower flavor and lower nutritional value, it’s no surprise that the US could’ve easily fallen for this trick if it worked (and even though these guys were caught, I’m sure there are many make it here and are being purchased every day). I shudder to think that anyone would actually buy something labeled “light olive oil”. Why? WHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHYYYYYYYYY (screaming)? Why would anyone take something that is pure, natural and good for you and hack away at it until it can be labeled light? Light olive oils are a marketing hook, people! They are not lighter in calories than regular olive oil but, instead, lighter in color, taste and nutritional value (hmmm, no crap – they are heavily modified through heating and filtering and not really olive oil!). Here’s a look at what those light olive oils are really about:

“Light” olive oil is a marketing concept and not a classification of olive oil grades. It is completely unregulated by any certification organizations and therefore has no real precedent to what its content should be. Sometimes, the olive oil is cut with other vegetable oils.

So in order for consumers to feel like they are actually eating “light”, they are willing to compromise flavor, health and deliciousness. According to a 1989 NY Times Article, ‘‘Light olive oil was invented by the Bertolli company in this office in Secaucus, N.J.,” said William C. Monroe, president of Bertolli USA. ”It’s an American invention.” Nothing screams fabulous, healthy product like the words, “created in an office in Secaucus, NJ”. Have you ever been to Secaucus? Enough said. (Why am I laughing at the thought of people taking vacations to trod through the “olive tree fields” in Seacaucus as a cheap alternative to a trip to Italy? Maybe those are the same people willing to buy into the whole light olive oil trick?)

Warm Buttered Potato, Pea and Prociutto Salad

If anyone is going to use this “light” olive oil stuff, please keep it’s use to high heat cooking (olive oil has a low smoke point) or baking. But, if that’s the case, why not just use other natural kind of oils?

I feel confident closing this rant by giving you a natural and delicious side dish recipe. Use real unsalted butter. Do not take shortcuts. Do not be worried about the fat. Did you know that 1 tablespoon of butter has less calories than 1 tablespoon of olive oil? Don’t be afraid! Just embrace it. Even our good friend, Caviar and Codfish used it in their Pea and Potato Salad!



  • 1/2 pound of fresh shelled peas (or a box of frozen peas)
  • 8 small new potatoes, boiled till medium-soft and sliced in half (or about 12-16 fingerling potatoes)
  • 1/4 pound slab of prosciutto (or you can get it sliced in thick slices), julienned
  • 1/2 onion, thin sliced in half moons (we used Vidalia, but white onion or shallots could be used)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons julienned basil
  • 2 tablespoons julienned sage
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

  1. Boil potatoes until firm but not crunchy (between 8 and 12 minutes depending on size of potatoes). Use a knife to check. Remove from water using slotted spoon and reserve water.
  2. Bring water back to boil and throw fresh peas in for two to three minutes until tender. If using frozen peas, throw in for 30 seconds to one minute – they just need warming up. Drain.
  3. Immediately, in a bowl, combine the potatoes and peas with the herbs, prosciutto, onion and butter and toss it all together. Finally, season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Warm Buttered Potato, Pea and Prociutto Salad

34 thoughts on “Fancy Up Your BBQ Side Dish (And A Rant): Warm Buttered Pea, Potato, Herb and Prosciutto Salad

  1. i um… i concur. this is because i am a true believer. my mother uses margarine. she is still convinced that it is better for u than butter. puhleeeeeze.

    i like this dish, A LOT. i’m thinking this will work along side my smoked meatloaf.

  2. Light olive oil? NEVER! Us Greeks will bathe in olive oil.

    The photo of the pea pod is fabulous…and the spud salad (with pig and all) looks like a winner for any picnic.

  3. These days, everytime I see commercials on TV for food items, I have to gulp down the rants that’s rising up my gorge. It’s extremely frustrating! It seems that people don’t know the difference between what’s real and good and what’s not. Ugh.

    Bring on the butter. . .the potato salad looks yummy!

  4. Great post! I am ashamed to say that I was on the low-fat bandwagon for awhile, but a couple of years ago, I went back to good old full fat. Full fat and full of flavor.

    The potato salad looks perfect. Love the peas in a pod shot!

  5. Amy,

    I really don’t understand the issue people have with butter. Your recipe (which is simply lovely by the way) uses 3TBSP and serves 4. That’s nothing in terms of calories or a significantly loss to heart health. I say use what you like and watch how much you eat, not what you eat. Otherwise, what’s the point?

    Good eating to you – Marc

  6. I agree on the butter and the olive oil. The flavor is much better and satisfying and it is more nutricious in the long run. The salad looks amazing and so light and summery. Beautiful!

  7. Amen, and amen! I agree with everything you said. Don’t suppress those rants when they start bubbling to the surface. It’s bad for the digestion 😉 and you might just end up educating some folks along the way! And what is this margarine of which you speak? Never heard of the stuff!

  8. Great post! I agree with absolutely everything you’ve said, I can’t understand why people buy margarine when real butter is just so much more delicious.

    I love the potato salad recipe, it looks wonderful!

  9. I’d like to add a little to your rant — for all the fat and calories that margarine and other fake fats might save you, any health benefit is negated by the hydrogenating process, and all the un-natural chemicals used to make the product. Feh.

    Butter tastes better! Bring it on, baby!

  10. I grew up in a family where butter was the only way to roll. To this day I could not imagine using anything less than that. I never knew about the light olive oil. I normally use extra light for frying or canola.

  11. Thank you! It had to be said and you did a hell of a good job. I knew from the first paragraph it had to be good. I was looking at a bottle of dijon mustard ‘spread’ in a squeeze bottle the other day. They made it look like the real deal but it had about 25 ingredients with weird names in it, while the real real stuff has about 4. Crazy! Why people buy that stuff? Is Dijon mustard hard to spread?

    Whew. I’m done now. Hand over the potato salad! 🙂

  12. I’m all over this one with you. Margarine just tastes like…..fake. I don’t even know what kind of fake it tastes like, but certainly not butter. Maybe buttery plastic…. an old roommate of mine used to have a zero calorie ‘butter spray’ in the fridge, which would get applied liberally to toast in the morning. It was truly appalling.

  13. Yeah. Stick with extra virgin. That slutty olive oil stuff you see on the shevles. You don’t know where it’s been!
    (Although I do confess to cooking with the slut oil a few weeks ago in an attempt to see exactly what olive-oil-fried chicken would be like Giada had my curiosity roused.)

  14. warm, buttered, potato, herb and prosciutto – such nice words all of them and even nicer all together and it looks perfectly delicious.
    I havn’t seen any light olive oil over here – think the italians know better than to mess with something so wonderfully good.
    Butter don’t mess with that either.

  15. Hi Amy, Looks like your ‘rant’ is metaphorically stirring the pot. Loved the visual you provided of a vacation in Seacaucus!! Also the visual of the pea pod – great shot!

  16. I constantly write on my blog: PLEASE do not use no fat mayo! A tablespoon of the real stuff will not kill you, nor will butter.
    I am not a nutritionist (I only play one on t.v.), but these fake products cause cancer in HUMANS, not only rats.
    You don’t have to cook like Paula Deen (a stick of butter dipped in chocolate with sprinkles on top……), but fat is good for you, and needed in a healthy diet.
    Everything in moderation…..except the hydronated vegetable oil!

  17. A-men. And Alleluiah.
    Real food for real people. And guess what? We’ll live longer as a result.

    This side looks absolutely mouth-watering. Great combo of flavors. And I’m LOVING the butter.

  18. Drool…. I’ll take a big bowl of that right now, extra butter, extra prosciutto please:-)

    You know what’s even more aggravating than “light” butter? “LITE” butter! grrrr…. Whoever gave marketers free license to make up words should be barred from eating tasty dishes like this.

  19. I’m with you… anything worth eating should be natural and not low fat, non-fat, substitute crap! and you probably know how I feel about wheat pasta… CRAP. No one had this stuff 50 years ago and they were much healthier and thinner.

  20. Looks delicious, can’t wait to make this salad. And I did buy light olive oil, but only to use it to make lavendar essence oil to be used for medicinal and pampering purposes. I am all about the extra virgin olive oil for cooking.

  21. I couldn’t agree more – why people would be substitutes for real butter I will never know.Er, hello? Fat is flavour! Anyway, its a natural product. Controversial i know but the evidence linking consumption of saturated fat to obesity and heart disease is flimsier than people think. Carbs are the real problem, apparently.

  22. That is one beautiful salad. I think the butter is an important ingredient in this salad. Lovely!

    I agree with you. And if butter is a problem cholesterol-wise, then substitute extra-virgin olive oil or other healthy oils, not margarine or butter substitute! Or use the butter when it is a necessary ingredient, moderation is key.

  23. What a gorgeous looking dish…..the rosey skin of the new potatoes contrasted against the vibrant green of the peas is a feast for the eyes. I’m sure it’s a feast for the palate, as well.

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