It’s always exciting to get hooked on a new food that is equally delicious and nutritious (sorry, 3D Doritos). Last summer, I made charred sugar snap peas for the first time and felt like I hit the tasty and nutritious food jackpot. Throwing whole pea pods in the hot pan with a drizzle of oil just until they blister and blacken in spots brings out the natural sweetness and enhances their flavor. They also soften a bit, which makes them easier to eat. While charred sugar snap peas are great on their own, they really shine in this salad with crunchy, tangy and salty ingredients. This recipe is a great guide creating vibrant and fresh salads all summer long.
Why it Works
This salad hits all the taste sensations; a little sweet, sour, salty, savory and even a hint of bitterness from the charring of the sugar snap peas. There’s also a mixture of textures and aromatic notes from the lemon zest to scallions. You can smell and taste the fresh elements and the creamy sharp cheese and salty and smoky almonds add a little richness. It’s a lively salad indeed!
Make it Your Own
Once you understand the fundamentals, you can mix and match your way to variations using produce you have on hand or find in the market.
This is great with thinly sliced radishes in place of the tomatoes in the spring and nectarines or peach slices in the summer. Persian cucumbers add a refreshing crunch. You could use chives or even add pretty purple chive blossoms in place of scallions. Salty freshly toasted breadcrumbs or your favorite soft vegan cheese could replace the blue cheese.
Got fresh corn? Why not char whole, peeled cobs and cut off the kernels for your salad. Corn would be delicious some fresh basil if you have it.
In place of the almonds, you could add salted sunflower seeds or some croutons for crunch.
If you have grill basket or trays, try grilling the peas and assembling the salad right outside. It’ll be super easy if you have all the other ingredients prepped. The possibilities are endless.
Charred Sugar Snap Salad
This crunchy, fresh and satisfying salad uses a little heat to bring out the natural sweetness of Sugar Snap Peas and makes a great lunch or cookout side.
Most sugar snap peas have two fibrous strings that are unpleasant to eat. You can remove them by breaking off the tip at the stem with your hands (or cutting with a knife) and pulling downward. There are also string-less sugar snap peas available at some grocery stores. Try serving this dish in a shallow white bowl or plate to highlight all of the bright colors and textures. If you’re preparing this ahead, you can arrange the vegetables and cheese and add the dressing, almonds and prosciutto right before eating. It’s delicious warm or at room temperature.
- For the salad:
- 12 oz sugar snap peas, strings removed (see notes)
- ½ cup soft herbs, Such as parsley, mint or basil
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 8 oz grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
- 3 tablespoons smoked or roasted and salted almonds
- ¼ cup crumbled mild blue cheese, such as gorgonzola dolce, or ricotta salata cheese
- 2oz thinly sliced prosciutto (optional)
- 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- fine salt
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 lemon
For the dressing:
- small bowl to mix dressing
- large sauté pan or skillet
- cutting board
- chef’s knife
- Make the dressing: Zest about half of the lemon on a fine grater and add it to a small bowl. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice of half the lemon (approx. 1.5 tbsp) into the bowl. Add 1 tsp of honey and ¼ teaspoon of salt and pinch of red pepper flakes to the bowl. Whisk in the 2 tbsp of olive oil with a fork. Taste and adjust with more salt if needed.
- Char the peas: Roughly chop the herbs and the almonds. In a bowl or on a cutting board, drizzle 1 tsp olive oil over the sugar snap peas. Use your hands to coat them evenly. Heat a large skillet over medium- high heat for a few minutes until it is hot. Add the sugar snap peas in a single layer and cook undisturbed for 2 to3 minutes. Turn a few pea pods over and check for any blistering and charring. Keep cooking the peas until the side in contact with the pan has one or two darker spots. At this point, turn them over using tongs or a spatula and continue cooking for another two minutes. The peas should be softened at this point and don’t need to be charred on the second side.
- Assemble the salad: Transfer the sugar snap peas to a serving platter. Sprinkle a generous pinch of salt over the peas, then top them with the tomatoes, scallions, cheese and herbs. Mix the dressing with the fork and drizzle it over the salad. Sprinkle on the chopped almonds. If you’re using prosciutto, you can tear the slices into pieces and nestle them around the salad.