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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Snow Peas

Snow Peas:


The snow pea (Pisium sativum var. saccharatum) is a legume,  a variety of pea eaten whole in its pod while still unripe.  Snow peas, and also sugar snap peas, unlike field and garden peas,  are notable in having edible pods that lack inedible fiber.  The stems and leaves of the immature plant are used as a vegetable in Chinese cooking, stir fried with garlic and sometimes combined with crab or other shellfish.  The French name for Snow peas is "mange tout" which translates "eat it all".

Telling the Difference:

Snow peas, snap peas, and garden peas are all climbing plants and members of the legume family, but there are subtle differences among the three.  Here's a guide to what they look like and taste like:

Snow Peas are also known as Chinese pea pods since they are often used in stir fries.  They are flat with very small peas inside and the whole pod is edible, although the tough strips along the edges are are usually removed before eating.  Snow peas are mildly flavored and can be served raw or cooked. 

Garden peas are also called English peas, or sweet peas.  The pods are firm and round, and the round peas inside need to be removed, or shelled before eating.  The pods are then discarded.  The peas are sweet and can be eaten raw or cooked.  These are the common peas that are sold shelled and frozen.  Peas get starchy and mealy as they get larger or if they are not cooked quickly after they are picked.  

Sugar Snap Peas are also known as "Snap Peas" and are a cross between snow peas and garden peas.  The whole pod is eaten and has a crunchy texture and very sweet flavor.  Snap peas may bee eaten raw or cooked.  There may be tough strings at the seems of the pods that need to be removed before eating, but string less varieties are also now available. 


Snow peas are a source of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.  They are an excellent source of vitamin C, and a good source of vitamin K and vitamin A.  They are also a good source of the minerals iron and manganese. 


Snow peas are available year round, but peak season is May through September.

Selecting and Storing:

Choose crisp bright colored pods with small seeds and without blemishes.  Do not wash before using, but store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

So.....  Eat up!  Enjoy!  I'll show you how.

Simple but Good:

Mediterranean Sno0w Peas

1 1/2 tsp butter
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Italian seasonings
1/2 lb. snow peas
1 tbs water, or more if needed
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Cook and stir garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in Italian seasonings and snow peas.  Add water; cook and stir until peas are bright green and tender, about 2 minutes.  Stir in olive oil and lemon juice.  Season with salt and black pepper.

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