Distinctive for its row of little bumps inside an emerald pod, the snow pea is also known as mange tout, French for ‘eat all’. So it’s rather appropriate that you can pop the whole thing into your mouth, unlike garden peas, which need to be shelled when plump and ripe.
Part of the legume family, snow peas release nitrogen into the soil due to beneficial bacteria present in their roots. They are therefore a useful companion plant when grown alongside leafy green vegetables that benefit from a high nitrogen content in their soil. Snow peas are rich in vitamins A, C and B6, as well as iron, dietary fibre and potassium.
While they are sweet and delicious when raw, mange tout can also be blanched, steamed, or stir-fried. The pods are either left whole or cut to release the sweet little peas inside. (Sometimes you need to tear out the tough string that runs down its length.)
Try these versatile peas in the following recipe ideas.
The simplest way to prepare mange tout peas is to boil them in salted water for two or three minutes and then toss them in butter. You could also fry sliced almonds in butter until they start to turn golden, add the peas and sauté for a few minutes, and serve with a squeeze of lemon.
Make a refreshing side dish by combining steamed green beans, mange tout and green garden peas. Drizzle with a mixture of fresh lemon juice, olive oil and crushed garlic, and sprinkle with lemon zest to serve. For a heartier, earthier side, combine blanched mange tout peas, halved baby beets and toasted pumpkin seeds and toss in a dressing of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and honey.
Use your raw snow peas to scoop up homemade hummus or this sweet and tangy roasted red pepper dip .
This bright green pea salad with lemon, mint and luxurious goat’s cheese is like a pea family reunion, according to its creator. You could also add some extra crunch to a grilled cling peach and pea salad by blanching mange tout with the garden peas. For a vibrant leafy salad, combine watercress, baby spinach, chopped green onion, slivers of avocado and fresh mange tout peas. Top with crumbled feta and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with a splash of vinaigrette.
Use snow peas in your next paella for some colour and texture. Stir fries are also a great way to show off their freshness and snap. Pair with pork, ginger, chilli, red onion and asparagus and a dressing of dry sherry, soy sauce, sugar and corn flour.
For a quick mid-week dinner, combine cooked penne pasta and smoked salmon with steamed mange tout, garden peas, feta, dill and chives. Dress with a mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, crushed garlic, salt and pepper.
Toss steamed prawns, blanched snow peas, thinly sliced spring onions and coriander in a bowl. Dress with warmed up sunflower and sesame oil and scatter with sesame seeds. Serve with basmati rice.