Vail Simply Seasonal: Spring means crunchy sugar snap peas |

Vail Simply Seasonal: Spring means crunchy sugar snap peas

Sue BarhamSimply SeasonaVail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyVail Simply Seasonal: Three peas with mint and goat cheese is a quick and delicious side dish.

VAIL, Colorado -Nothing announces the arrival of spring in Colorado’s Vail Valley quite like sugar snap peas. One of the first garden-fresh veggies you spot in the grocery store this time of year, their crunchy freshness tastes as good raw as it does cooked.Sugar snaps grow in many regions across the United States. In warmer areas, there can be two harvests, at the beginning and the end of summer. Surprisingly, though, this vegetable prefers a cooler climate. It is frost-hearty and likes to get planted in areas that have a long, cool spring. Here in the Rockies, you can grow a tasty crop.Gardeners claim the best way to eat sugar snaps is as soon as you pick them, standing right there in the field. They claim no preparation is necessary. Jeremy Kittelson, executive chef at Avondale, agrees. “Sugar snap peas need very little enhancement,” he said. “A simple saute and a toss with fresh spring herbs like mint or tarragon makes a great side dish.”If you do choose to cook sugar snaps, keep the cooking time short. Steam, stir fry or saute for about three minutes to keep the color bright green and the texture crisp. The short cooking time also preserves the high content of vitamin C found in this veggie. When choosing sugar snap peas, they should be 2 1/2 to 3 inches in length, with a plump, snug pod encasing the peas inside. Choose those that are bright green, with no signs of yellowing. You can eat the entire pod or peel off the string running along its side.Have a picky eater in the family? This springtime beauty is crisp, sweet, crunchy and juicy and may be just the right introduction to fresh garden greens!

1/2 cup sugar snap peas, cut into 1-inch sections1/2 cup English peas1/4 cup snow peas1 tablespoon butter1 tablespoon fresh mint, chiffonade2 ounces soft goat cheese (like Laura Chenel)Melt butter in a saute pan over medium high heat. Add the three varieties of peas. Cook, tossing for two minutes. Add fresh mint and season with salt and pepper, tossing for another minute. Remove from heat, stir in half the goat cheese. Continue stirring, allowing the cheese to melt. Place in a serving dish and garnish with the remaining goat cheese. Serves 2.

10 ounces sugar snap peasKosher salt1 pound very small new potatoes (if using larger potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces)2 tablespoons butter1 tablespoon chopped chives2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragonFreshly ground black pepper to tastePut peas in boiling water with 1 teaspoon salt for three minutes. Drain and plunge into ice water until cold. Drain well. Wash potatoes well and do not peel. Place potatoes in a steamer basket in a large pot and steam 15 to 20 minutes or until just tender. In a large skillet or wok, melt butter over low heat until it begins to lightly brown. Add peas and potatoes, raise heat to medium, and toss well. Add chives, tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss again until well coated. Serves 4.

1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced2 cloves garlic, finely diced1 fresh jalapeno chile, sliced sea salt1 tablespoon peanut oil1 pound large shrimp, shelled & deveined1 cup sugar snap peas 2 tablespoons soy saucejuice of 1/2 lime1/2 teaspoon honey1 teaspoon sesame oil1/2 pound pasta, cooked1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, torn Heat a large saute pan or wok over high heat. Swirl in some peanut oil and add garlic, ginger and chile. Saute for a minute, then add shrimp and cook for another couple minutes or until shrimp is almost cooked through. Add sugar snaps, soy sauce, lime juice, honey and sesame oil. Saut another minute until everything is hot, then toss in pasta. Toss over heat until pasta is well coated, then garnish with cilantro. Serves 2-3.Sue Barham is the marketing director for Larkspur Restaurant and Restaurant Avondale. Larkspur, ( at the base of Vail Mountain, has been serving American Classics with a fresh interpretation since 1999. Avondale, ( opened in September 2008 in the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa and features a West Coast inspired, market driven menu.

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