Seasonal Chef: Sugar Snap Peas

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This week sugar snap peas are making an appearance at the farmers market. Not to be confused with snow peas, their sibling, sugar snap peas are plump rather than flat. They are sweet and crisp, with a great “pea” flavor.

Sugar Snap Peas

You want to pick pods that are firm and pale green. There maybe a little white scarring on the pod, not to worry. They shouldn’t be soft and bend, rather crisp and “snap,” hence the name. Once home place in a sealed bag with a small piece of paper towel and a few holes poked to let them breath. They will last in your crisper bin for about five days. Do try to eat them soon though, as they are sweet and delicious right from the farmers market.

Sugar snap varieties have a tough fibrous string that runs the length of the pea and should be removed before cooking. Fold back the stem with your finger or a small paring knife and pull. The string will slide off quite easily. Some varieties have strings on both sides.

Sugar Snap Peas

While you are removing the strings get two pots of water on to boil. Add a tablespoon of salt for each four cups of water. In a large bowl set up an ice bath. You want to blanch the sugar snap peas for one to two minutes then remove immediately to an ice bath, to stop the cooking. Try cooking two sugar snap pea pods, one minute and then two minutes. Drop in the ice bath, then taste. You decide the crispness you desire.

Along with my sugar snap peas I decided to put together a very quick pasta dish. While the water was boiling, and the pasta cooked, I cleaned up my sugar snap peas. For the sake of this article I actually counted the time it took to pull the strings. Each pod took me five seconds. So honestly, they can be cleaned while the pasta cooks. Once you get into a flow they clean up quickly.

Any kind of dressing will work. I had a big pile of basil leaves from my CSA so I worked up a very quick pesto. There are hundreds of recipes on line, and I have many Seasonal Chef pesto recipes here too.

Sugar Snap Peas, Pesto and Pasta

This is a perfect dish to pull together for your Fourth of July BBQ. I will be taking this one with me on Saturday, as a matter of fact!

On Friday July 10 I will be heading to Hilltop Hanover Farm for my next Farm Stand Cooking Series class from 1:00-3:00. I hear there might be zucchini blossoms to cook next week. Very exciting!

Buon Appetito!

One year ago: More Garlic Scapes
Two years ago: Garlic Scapes

Sugar Snap Peas, Pesto and Pasta

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

You can easily use olive oil and vinegar or lemon, or even a bottled dressing for this dish, but with fresh basil available now, take a couple of minutes and make a quick pesto. This is truly summer in a bowl!

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 3-4 handfuls of sugar snap peas, rinsed in cool water
  • 2 cups, 2" pasta, I like casarecce shape for this dish
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Lemon
  • Ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring two pots of water to boil and salt both. Fill a bowl with ice and water, set aside. Start removing the strings on the pea pods.
  2. Once the water is boiling drop your pasta in and cook to al dente while you finish removing the strings from the snap pea pods and set aside.
  3. When the water boils in the second pot blanch the the snap peas for 1-2 minutes, depending on your crispness desire. Immediately remove and place in the ice bath. The pasta should be done about the same time, so drain that and set in a large bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil to prevent it from sticking, while you make the pesto. Drain the snap peas in another colander.
  4. In small food processor add the garlic and break it up. Add the basil leaves and run until they are pretty chopped up. Add 1 tablespoon of cheese and process again.
  5. With the machine running drizzle in the olive oil until you get a wet thickish consistency. Add the juice of half a lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Pulse to combine. Add additional olive oil to smooth it out. Keep tasting and adding salt, pepper and lemon as desired.
  6. Toss the pasta with the pesto and add the sugar snap peas. Top with more parmesan and seasoning. Serve room temperature or cold.

Notes

Most of your prep work will be done while things are cooking. This dish will really come together in under 30 minutes.

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Sugar Snap Peas, Pesto and Pasta
Serves 4-6

You can easily use olive oil and vinegar or lemon, or even a bottled dressing for this dish. But with fresh basil available now, take a couple of minutes and make a quick pesto. This is truly summer in a bowl!

Kosher salt
3-4 handfuls of sugar snap peas, rinsed in cool water
2 cups, 2″ pasta, I like casarecce shape for this dish
Extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup packed basil leaves, roughly chopped
Parmesan cheese

1. Bring two pots of water to boil and salt both. Fill a bowl with ice and water, set aside. Start removing the strings on the pea pods.
2. Once the water is boiling drop your pasta in and cook to al dente while you finish removing the strings from the snap pea pods and set aside.
3. When the water boils in the second pot blanch the the snap peas for 1-2 minutes, depending on your crispness desire. Immediately remove and place in the ice bath. The pasta should be done about the same time, so drain that and set in a large bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil to prevent it from sticking, while you make the pesto. Drain the snap peas in another colander.
4. In small food processor add the garlic and break it up. Add the basil leaves and run until they are pretty chopped up. Add 1 tablespoon of cheese and process again.
With the machine running drizzle in the olive oil until you get a wet thickish consistency. Add the juice of half a lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Pulse to combine. Add additional olive oil to smooth it out. Keep tasting and adding salt, pepper and lemon as desired.
5. Toss the pasta with the pesto and add the sugar snap peas. Top with more parmesan and seasoning. Serve room temperature or cold.

Cook’s Note: Most of your prep work will be done while things are cooking. This dish will really come together in under 30 minutes.

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About Author

Seasonal Chef blogger Maria Reina comes to the world of food as a third career, spending a great portion of her adult life in the field of Human Resources. With her private company Bella Cucina Maria she is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Westchester. She's an avid food television watcher and cookbook collector, always looking for a new take on a traditional dish. In her free time she loves hanging out at local farmer's markets, chatting it up with the farmers and doing cooking demos with their seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog, which is loaded with easy recipes, you can follow her on Facebook (Bella Cucina Maria), Twitter (Bellacucinam), Instagram (Bellacucinam) and Pinterest (Bellacucinam).

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