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All We Can Eat
Posted at 02:00 PM ET, 06/01/2012

Sugar snap peas’ time to shine


First lady Michelle Obama shells sugar snaps from the White House garden with a Bancroft Elementary student in 2009. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
In her recent NPR interview, first lady Michelle Obama mentioned that daughter Malia’s least favorite vegetable is sugar snap peas, which are grown in the White House garden and are a beloved summer ingredient to just about everybody else.

Because they’re also abundant in farmers markets now, we’re revisiting the Food section’s Market Watch information about how to shop for, care for and cook sugar snaps. You’ll find links to some of our favorite sugar snap pea recipes after the jump.

Sugar snaps are a perfect marriage of pea and pod. Cousin to the thicker butter pea, today's sugar snaps are the happy result of breeding an English pea with a snow pea. The cross produced a completely edible pod that is firmer, crunchier and sweeter than the snow pea.
Buying and storing: Look for firm, bright green pods with no signs of shrinkage or discoloration and a nice rounded shape. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator and eat as soon as possible. Once picked, like all peas, sugar snaps lose their sweet flavor quickly. Try to use within two to three days of purchasing.
Cleaning and trimming: Sugar snaps have strings on both seams that should be removed. (Some varieties are stringless, but it's always a good idea to check.) To remove the strings, snap the stem end and pull back along the pod. This should remove at least one of the strings. Do your best to remove any remaining string; this sounds much harder than it is.
Cooking: Sugar snaps can be steamed, boiled or stir-fried. The key is to cook them quickly. Properly cooked sugar snaps should still have bite and a bright green color. If using as crudite, blanch the peas for no more than 45 seconds in boiling salted water to bring out the green color. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking immediately. In fact, it's a good idea to rinse cooked sugar snaps with cold water if you plan to use them in any cold dish — it cools them down quickly, stops any residual cooking and helps retain their color. If using in a stir-fry or pasta dish, you can leave them whole or cut into diagonal slices. Either way, add the sugar snaps at the end of the cooking time. They'll need only a couple of minutes to cook.

Beet and Snap Pea Salad With Ricotta. A great marriage of crunch and color.

Butterfly Pasta With Baby Peas. A meatless Dinner in Minutes.

Lightly Spiced Sugar Snap Peas. With Thai curry paste, mint and lime juice.


(James M. Thresher for The Washington Post)
Grilled Chicken Salad With Sugar Snap Peas and Strawberries. A healthful and gluten-free Nourish recipe; shown above.

Peas With Mint Chutney and Feta. A little serrano pepper makes a big difference.

Sugar Snap Peas With Peaches. Almost like a chutney, with cinnamon, mustard seed, raisins and ginger.

Sugar Snap Peas With Sweet Lemon and Mustard Dressing. Batons of smoked ham and Gruyere cheese bump up the flavors.

Find more sugar snap pea dishes in our Recipe Finder.

By  |  02:00 PM ET, 06/01/2012

Tags:  how to cook with sugar snap peas, Washington Post sugar snap pea recipes

 
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