Get thee to a farmer’s market! Sugar Snap Peas are here!
What do you get when you cross a snow pea with a shelling pea?
A fat, delicious, edible-podded sugar snap pea. That’s what.
The headline from New York’s Union Square Greenmarket this week is that sweet, crispy sugar snap peas have arrived en masse. If you’ve ever tasted a locally-grown, in-season snap pea, then you know the singular pleasure that these harbingers of summer bring. While many store-bought varieties are now being bred “conveniently” de-stringed (de-strung?), personally, I *enjoy* the ritual surrounding the de-stringing of snap peas that you get from the fresh-picked, locally-farmed variety. I’ll sit on the sofa with a big bowl of peas in front of me, tearing the little crown-like stems off the peas and peeling the string down their lengths while I half-watch a mind-numbing crime drama on TV. It’s my little moment of Zen.
Sugar Snap Peas can be eaten raw, pod and all, and make a great seasonal replacement for the ol’ crudite standby of baby carrots. (Between this comment and my recent Jicama sticks post, you must be thinking by now that I have something personal against baby carrots. I assure you, I don’t. But how can I even *think* about serving baby carrots amid this bounty of summer vegetables?)
My favorite way to eat them, though, is to saute them in a little bit of olive oil, just long enough to bring out their brightest, greenest color and make them everso slightly more tender, but not so long as to let them get soft and ruin their crispness. That usually takes about 4 minutes of sauteing over medium heat. (Alternatively, you can achieve the same tender-crisp effect by blanching snap peas in boiling water for about 2 minutes and then shocking them in an ice bath immediately to stop the cooking.) They’re perfect lightly cooked and simply sprinkled with a hint of salt, period. But if you want to brighten their flavor even more, try squeezing some lemon juice on after they’re cooked and tossing them with some chopped fresh herbs from your garden. I’ve tried it with both mint and marjoram to excellent results. And if you want to get even fancier, you can try Mark Bittman’s recipe for “Quick Stir-Fried Snap Peas“; just use wheat-free Tamari instead of soy sauce to make it gluten-free.
Alternatively, sugar snap peas are often featured as an accompaniment to Asian-style dishes in place of snow peas; they’re crunchier and don’t get as soggy as snow peas tend to. Fellow nutritionist Tram Le offers a tempting rendition of Caramelized Tofu and Sugar Snap Peas that makes me wish I could eat soy. (You’ll want to use wheat-free Tamari here, too, to make it gluten-free.)
Nutritionally, 1 cup of raw sugar snap peas contains a mere 26 calories per cup, 5g of carbohydrate, of which 1.5g is fiber...so even the Atkins set has no excuses for avoiding these lovely legumes; owing to the high ratio of pod-to-pea, they aren’t your typical starchy pea. They’re also a very good source of vitamin C (63% of the daily value) and a decent source of iron (1.3 mg… which is 16% of a man’s daily requirements but only 7% of a woman’s), which will be better absorbed if you pair it with some vitamin C rich foods (that lemon juice would come in handy here) and/or an entree of meat, fish or poultry.Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it, RSS feed.