Last week at the market, lots of farmers were selling quarts of sugar snap peas and I couldn't resist their shiny pods and cute little crowns. Unfortunately, I have a bad habit of losing things in the fridge, so these little guys sat a week in the crisper. I did remember them today, though.
Snap peas are very similar to the snow pea, but they have rounder pods and are much sweeter. They're better for you than regular peas, as they have a lower sugar and fat content. They also benefit from simple preparation, so it's a win-win!
Sugar Snap Peas with Toasted Sesame Seeds
1 pound sugar snap peas, stringed
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
Sesame seeds need to be toasted for their flavor to be released. Even if you bought pre-toasted sesame seeds, it's a good idea to toast them again before you throw them in with the snap peas. It's also important to buy toasted sesame oil, which is more fragrant than untoasted sesame oil. Toasting your own sesame seeds is very easy; heat up a small, dry saucepan on the stove and add your sesame seeds. When the seeds have begun to brown, you can remove them from the heat. This should take about 5 to 7 minutes at a medium-low heat.
To string the snap peas, pinch the crowned end of the bean (the part that attaches to the plant) and gently pull down the length of the bean. You want the tip to snap off, and to remove the fibrous section along the inner curve of the bean (the string).
Steam the snap peas for three minutes, until they are tender-crisp. Transfer to a bowl, and toss with sesame seeds and oil. Salt and pepper to taste (we like to add lots of freshly ground black pepper -- it gives the dish a nice kick).
Bon Appétit, April 2000