Sometimes beautiful and easy are the order of the day. And that’s certainly how I feel about spring vegetables. After a long, cold winter, a few flowers are starting to bud, and I yearn for colorful vegetables that don’t require the long, slow cooking of a stew or the high temperatures of roasting.
I love snap peas and often eat them raw by the handful, with hummus or just on their own. But they are also an ideal last minute cooked vegetable because they need little preparation, cook quickly, and taste delicious with just a bit of seasoning.
Like snow peas, snap peas have edible pods, but snaps have rounded pods instead of flat ones. Fresh snap peas have a delightful – you guessed it – snap when you bit into them. To me, the crunchy taste and texture of a fresh snap pea pod is a true sign of spring.
This recipe is not stir-fried, but it could be. As with a stir-fry, you heat just enough oil to coat the pan, then quickly sear the snap peas over high to medium-high heat. The trick is to use a pan, preferably cast iron, that fits all the snap peas in one layer with not too much space between them.
I like the tomato and snap pea combination with just a hint of herbs. I used tarragon, a particular favorite of mine, but you could try rosemary or thyme instead. I cut the vegetables because I like them bite-sized and it allows the juice of the tomatoes, added at the last minute, to combine more easily with the tarragon than if the tomatoes were left whole. Of course, you could also cut the tomatoes and leave the snap peas whole if you prefer – or you want to save 30 seconds.
Assuming that you’re making this dish as part of a larger meal, wash and prepare the vegetables and measure out the tarragon, putting all of it to the side as you make the rest of the dinner. (My snap peas were stringless when I bought them. If yours still have the rather tough string attached along the inside of the pod, remove it.) Then after everything else is ready, the snap peas cook, literally in 3 minutes, and you can dole the hot vegetables directly from the pan to the dishes as they go the table.
Snap Peas and Tomatoes with Tarragon
Servings – 2 Cost – $4
- 4 ounces of fresh snap peas (approximately 18-20)
- 4 ounces of fresh grape, small cherry or similar tomatoes (approximately 14-16) – I used Zimas, sweet yellow tomatoes that are slightly larger than grape tomatoes.
- 1½ teaspoons olive oil
- ¼ – ½ teaspoon dried tarragon or 1 teaspoon fresh tarragon
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Cutting board
- Small knife
- Strainer for rinsing vegetables
- Medium size pan (about 8” in diameter)
- Spoon or wooden spatula
- Remove strings from the snap peas if necessary, wash and cut the vegetables in half.
- Heat the pan. Add the oil and heat until it is hot but not smoking.
- Add the snap peas and let them sit undisturbed on medium-high heat for 1 minute. Then stir and let them sit for another minute. As you turn them after the first minute, you’ll notice sear marks on some of the pieces – that’s fine. At the end of the second minute the green color of the snap peas is slightly brightened.
- Add the tomatoes and cook for 30 seconds – 1 minute. Add the tarragon, salt and pepper and serve.