Seared Sugar Snap Peas

Sugar snap peas are a garden staple in the spring. At least around here you plant them in November or December and see them poking out of the ground late February to early March, depending on how warm or cold a winter it has been. In my garden they snake their way up a loosely put together bamboo trellis and if I’m not paying attention, climb over the fence into my neighbor’s yard. As soon as it really starts to get hot, usually sometime in May, the pea vines dry up, telling me it’s time to plant green beans.

And just so we are clear, I don’t cook my garden peas. Why? Because I’m greedy. I snap the peas off their tendrils and eat them fresh and fresh right in the garden as soon as they get big enough. It’s my garden snack bar. One of these days I’ll compost and fertilize and mulch enough to have a harvest big enough to cook and/or share. Still, peas in the garden means local peas at the market, and this easy stir-fry with green onions, lemon zest, and mint, is a great way to prepare them.

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With this method of cooking snap peas, you try to strike a balance between letting the peas sit so they get a little bit of sear, and tossing them, so they get all get cooked evenly and none of the peas get too charred. Just get the pan and oil good and hot before adding the peas, so you cook the peas quickly. Any green vegetable will turn from vibrant green to a drab brownish olive green if cooked for more than 7 minutes. It’s a matter of chemistry. So cook the peas quickly and serve them quickly, so you get a nice sear, the peas are still crunchy, and a pretty green.

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  • Prep: 15 minutes
  • Cook: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6.

Almost all the prep time in this recipe is taking the strings off the sugar peas. Once you have that done, the rest is easy.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound sugar snap peas, strings removed
  • 3-4 scallions or green onions, sliced on the diagonal
  • Salt
  • A pinch of sugar
  • Zest of a lemon
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Lemon juice to taste

Method

1 Heat a large sauté pan on high heat for 1 minute. Add the olive oil to the hot pan and heat it until it shimmers, about 1-2 minutes. Add the sugar peas and toss to coat with the oil. Sprinkle salt over them and toss again. Allow to cook, undisturbed, for 1 minute.

2 Add the green onions and sprinkle with a pinch of sugar. Toss to combine. Let cook for 1 minute. Toss and cook untouched again, this time leaving everything undisturbed for 2 minutes.

3 Turn off the heat, mix in the lemon zest and mint, then add black pepper and lemon juice to taste. Serve at once.

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