Due to the unusually warm winter we experienced, the first harvest of sugar snap peas arrived uncharacteristically early this year.
I saw the first pop up in early January, and now, there are peas available from several local growers at all weekly farmers markets. That is great news for our local pea connoisseurs who take advantage of this favorite any chance they get.
Developed from crossing the English pea with the snow pea, a sugar snap pea tends to offer the best qualities of both rolled into one.
Snow peas are sought for the culinary convenience of a crisp edible pod. But the peas inside the snow pea pod are quite small, and they’re often indistinguishable from the texture and flavor of the pod itself.
The English pea, however, is just the opposite. The pea’s pod can be quite fibrous and is usually composted rather than eaten. The peas inside the English pea, however, are large and sweet, making them the main highlight of this variety.
Put the two kinds of peas together, and you have a match made in heaven. With edible pods and large sweet peas, those sugar snap peas sure are delicious.
Sugar snap peas are wonderful both raw and cooked.I eat them as a snack all the time, just as they come, straight out the refrigerator.
When cooking my sugar snap peas, I usually discard the very tips at both the top and base of the pea. Then they are sautéed at high heat in a little olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.
They’re simple and delicious. They are also great in a mixed vegetable stir fry, added to steamed or fried rice, or chopped raw over a mixed green salad.
This week, I decided to prepare a sugar snap pea salad with a simple Asian style dressing. Combined with some super sweet local carrots, Persian cucumbers, fresh herbs and green onions, this salad makes for a great side dish or very healthy main dish.
Raw Sugar Snap Pea Salad
2 pounds sugar snap peas, strings removed, tips at base and top discarded, sliced into angled rounds
4 cups Napa cabbage, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and grated
2 green onions, chopped into small rounds at an angle
2 spring garlic, cut into small rounds (with small heads that resemble green onions)
One-half cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
6 large mint leaves, finely chopped
One-quarter cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Optional, 1 cup cooked and chopped chicken
Toss all ingredients together, except for the peanuts. Toss with about 2 tablespoons of the dressing. Season with salt and pepper as needed to taste. Add additional dressing to taste. Top with peanuts and add chicken if desired.
Yield: Serves 2.
For the dressing:
One-quarter cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
Juice from 1 lime
Whisk together all dressing ingredients at room temperature. Let sit for 10 minutes and then mix well before serving. Prepares about one-half cup dressing.