After my oh-so healthy breakfast, I decided that some vegetables were in order for lunch. And since I am trying to get some work done today, a quick & easy lunch was also in order. Enter glazed sugar snap peas.
I picked up about a pound of sugar snap peas from Migliorelli Farm at my farmer’s market on Saturday. Sugar snaps are one of my favorite Spring vegetables: coming in right at the tail end of asparagus season, their fresh, green sweetness consoles you for the loss of the wonderful ‘sperge, while satisfying the crisp & crunchy craving before carrots and cucumbers show up in abundance. Sugar snaps are so sweet and delicious that, around here, we’ll eat them raw like candy; but they are also nice gently warmed and glazed with any manner of sweet or sour, fruity or tangy concoction.
I’ve had this fennel-infused pear syrup in my mind for sugar snaps for a couple of weeks now, as soon as I started seeing pea shoots show up at the market. Fennel just seems to go with peas: the licoricy bite is a perfect foil for the bright, grassy sweetness of new peas. When added straight from the bottle, the pear syrup alone made a lovely glaze for farm fresh sugar snap peas: a just barely-there sweetness, and a hint of fennel, that doesn’t obscure the natural flavor of the peas, but will make your dinner guests say “What did you do to these peas?” For a more sophisticated dish, dress up the syrup with some balsamic vinegar and a splash of lemon: the balsamic adds a nice layer of umami to the flavor profile, while the deep color and addition of fennel seed adds visual interest for a side that would not be out of place on the most formal dinner plate.
I can see this working with many a fruit syrup and/or “failed” jelly or jam: add spices, dried chiles, fresh herbs or seeds, according to your taste, larder and fancy. Whatever you do, don’t miss sugar snap peas at the market: they grow up so fast. Sigh.
- 1/4 cup pear syrup (or other fruit syrup or “failed” jelly/jam)
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp fennel seed
- 1/4 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
- 1/2 lb sugar snap peas, rinsed, stem ends snapped off and center string peeled
- 1 tsp olive oil
- In a small bowl, whisk together pear syrup, vinegar, lemon juice, fennel, salt & pepper. Taste and adjust amounts or seasonings to your liking.
- In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until hot, but not smoking. Use just enough oil to barely coat the pan, so that the peas won’t char on contact with the hot surface. Add sugar snap peas and toss, sautéing over high heat until just warmed through, about 30 – 60 seconds.
- Add the syrup mixture and sauté for another minute, tossing or stirring constantly, until the glaze is slightly reduced and fragrant. Transfer to a serving bowl, scraping any remaining glaze from the pan onto the peas, and serve immediately.
- As noted, I also glazed some peas with pear syrup straight from the bottle. It was lovely and subtle: more fresh pea flavor but a little less wow! factor. Perfect for a busy weeknight when you just want to slightly dress up your vegetable side; you can grab a jar of syrup straight from the fridge and just eyeball it into the pan.
- As my pear syrup was already fennel-infused, the 1/2 tsp of fennel here packed quite a fennely punch. If you adore fennel, increase to 1 tsp.
Best eaten fresh.
Spring to early Summer.