Thursday, June 25, 2015

Vegetable Feature: Sugar Snap Peas

by Sarah Janes Ugoretz
That’s right—sugar snap peas are back in season! After weeks of teasing you with pea vine, the time has finally arrived. For those of you who are less familiar with these delicious late-spring vegetables, sugar snap peas are a cross between plump garden peas and flat snow peas, which come shortly after the sugar snap peas.  Their ability to produce pods with enclosed seeds places them in the legume family, along with other familiar foods such as beans, peanuts, and lentils. Although you may find that your pods have “strings” along the seam, the entire pod is edible.
The crisp and crunchy texture of sugar snap peas, paired with their sweet flavor, makes them stand out among other vegetables. You can eat them raw, just as they are, or you can cook them. If opting for the latter, they’re excellent steamed, seared, or roasted. In order to preserve the unique crunch of your sugar snap peas, make sure you don’t stray too far from the kitchen while you’re preparing them. Pay close attention to suggested cooking times, since overcooked peas will be soft and much less flavorful.
Falling second only to lima beans, sugar snap peas are our best option for protein when it comes to vegetables. One cup will get you about two grams of protein, not to mention three grams of natural sugar and about two grams of fiber. When it comes to vitamin C, sugar snap peas get the job done even better than an orange! One three-ounce serving will provide you with more than half of the recommended daily intake of this important antioxidant. For storage purposes, be sure to keep your sugar snap peas in the refrigerator, and do your best to eat them within one week. Just as with corn, the sugars in these peas will naturally convert themselves to starch. Keeping them cold will slow this process, while also preserving their texture and nutrient content.
I’ll leave you with this interesting, trivial fact: because they hold up so well to freezing and canning, only about five percent of sugar snap peas are sold fresh in the U.S. As informed eaters, we know that these peas—as with other vegetable—are best fresh, both nutritionally and flavor-wise. That being said, enjoy these healthy, delightfully crispy sugar snap peas and savor their short-lived season!

Kale Dip with Sugar Snap Peas
Serves 4
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced (or substitute garlic scapes)
3 cups thinly sliced kale leaves
Coarse salt
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
Pinch red-pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed

  1. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic and kale and season with salt. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Let cool. 
  2. Transfer to a food processor. Add cottage cheese and puree until smooth. Season with pepper flakes and lemon juice. 
  3. Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook peas until bright green and tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to an ice-water bath; drain. Serve with dip. 

Cook’s Note:  Dip can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Roasted Sugar Snap Peas with Black Pepper
Recipe adapted from Rachel Ray’s recipe featured on
Serves 2-3
½ pound sugar snap peas
Olive oil, to coat
Fine sea salt
Coarse black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. 
  2. Coat the snap peas lightly with olive oil. Season with sea salt and lots of black pepper. Roast (in a single layer on a baking sheet) until browned at the edges but still with some bite left to them, 10 to 12 minutes.

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