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Potato asparagus and pancetta salad

Updated: Mon, 29 April, 2024

A spring salad of new potatoes, with stir fried asparagus chunks and crisp pancetta. Serve it warm or at room temperature.

potato asparagus and pancetta salad

Three ingredients con

I’m really not sure what the deal with the ‘only three ingredients!’ recipes is. Or only four or five for that matter, but the authors of those seem to take pride in putting together as few foodstuffs as possible.

Seriously? Why? It’s not like a short recipe has significant benefits because you'll have to memorise it before trying to execute it. Fine, there are wonderful things made with only flour and water but that’s bread. And ‘only 3 ingredients’ does not equal easy. See mayonnaise: oil and egg. Easy? Like hell it is.

The fewer not the easier

Some dishes only take a handful of ingredients just because nothing else is needed and I’m not punching below the belt by taking roast meats as an example (roast beef = beef + salt + pepper + oven).

Rugelach pastry, one of my favourites, only has flour, butter and cream cheese in it, and there are scones/biscuits (depending which side of the Atlantic you are on) made only with flour and cream.

On the other hand, there are tonnes of things where a large number of assorted components are just mixed together to produce an excellent dish. So there’s complex and there’s complicated, in a nutshell.

new potatoes with asparagus and pancetta

Friday night scrounge

My theory goes out of the window when it’s the end of the week and I open the fridge to find but three or four miserable looking items. Then, with my tail between my legs, I’m in need of a three-ingredient-recipe.

This is one of them: of course you can accuse me of cheating because you can clearly see nine ingredients in the list. But things like salt and pepper, lemon or butter don’t count even among the three-ingredient tribe. So here’s potatoes, asparagus and pancetta equals a feast.

asparagus pancetta and potatoes

The potatoes

The smaller the new potatoes, the better, everyone knows and agrees – except the person that has to scrub them.

Obviously, you can buy washed new potatoes from the supermarket but those really don’t have much flavour. Apparently they don’t suffer nutritionally when prewashed, but if you want the taste of first, tiny, delicious new Jersey Royals or your local equivalents, buy them soil-mucked and grubby. The scrubbing chore is all worth it.

And then boil them in salted water, about twenty minutes until a pointy knife or a fork goes into them without resistance, drain and keep warm.

boiled new potatoes

The pancetta

If you’re a bacon devotee, swap pancetta for streaky bacon. But pancetta is quite a bit different and much better fitting in a spring salad like this one, in my view.

Pancetta is salt-cured and air-dried so it is very much like cured hams including Parma, Serrano or Bayonne. Except it is made from pork belly rather than pork bum, so it’s fattier. But Italians appreciate good pork fat: both lardo and coppa are very fatty but steady fixtures on a charcuterie board.

So like cured hams, pancetta can be eaten raw, unlike bacon. But when cooked, it becomes deliciously crumbly and crisp in a more delicate way than crispy bacon.

In this recipe it’s crispened in the pan to render the fat, then removed and set aside on paper towels. The fat stays in the pan waiting for the asparagus.

crispy pancetta

The asparagus

Asparagus is arguably the best when simply and briefly boiled or steamed, but it is equally delicious stir fried or charred in a frying pan.

Which is what we’re doing here: chunks or asparagus land in the lovely pancetta fat and they will need barely a couple of minutes of tossing around, just to get some colour.

stir fried asparagus

Assembling the salad

Now the potatoes can go back to the pan, to warm up or scorch a little in places, as much as you like, with grated Parmesan which will help them scorch.

Season it all with salt and pepper, add some finely chopped herbs – I’m partial to dill and chives – and crumble in the pancetta. Seriously delicious!

More new potato recipes

New potatoes sautéed with spinach. This recipe for sautéed new potatoes has them boiled first and then fried in plenty of butter with spinach and capers.

Spring potato salad with radish, gherkins and very light mayo dressing – it’s the taste and flavour of a summer barbecue even in late winter.

Garlic, lemon and thyme new potatoes gently poached in oil are incredibly flavoursome and super easy to prepare: oven baked in a covered casserole dish.

More warm salad recipes

Smoked mackerel and potato salad recipe: warm roast potatoes tossed with smoked mackerel and no dressing required thanks to the potato seasoning.

Spicy potato salad with bacon and cucumber. This is an excellent salad of spicy bacon and cucumber, mixed with new potatoes and served warm.

Five spice shrimp salad with crispy noodles. Crispy noodles with Chinese five spice seasoned prawns in a warm layered salad with pak choi.

warm salad of new potatoes with asparagus and pancetta

Potato asparagus and pancetta salad

Servings: 2Time: 40 minutes


  • 500g (about 1 pound) new potatoes
  • 150g (10 rashers) pancetta
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • a large bunch of asparagus
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • 3 tbsp grated Parmesan


1. Wash and scrub the potatoes, halve the larger ones. Bring them to a boil in a pan of salty water. Cook until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. In a large frying pan or a wok fry the pancetta slices in batches until crisp on both sides. Remove onto paper towels but leave the fat in the pan.

3. Wash the asparagus and trim the woody ends, chop into 3cm/1 inch chunks. Add the butter to the pan with the pancetta fat and heat it up until foaming.

4. Cook the asparagus tossing them often for about 3 minutes, until they start to colour.

5. Add the cooked potatoes to the pan together with half the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.

6. When the potatoes start to colour, sprinkle with chopped herbs and crumble in the pancetta rashers. Serve sprinkled with extra Parmesan.

Originally published: Mon, 31 October, 2016

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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