After a winter in which I was so sick of heavy winter vegetables, I went on strike against them (and pretty much everything that wasn’t peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or Raisin Bran, if we’re being honest here), I have been having so much fun the last couple weeks hitting the markets, especially now that they’re hitting their stride. In our new neighborhood, we’re not only so much closer to the Union Square Greenmarket, but have the added bonus of a couple mini-markets that conveniently run on Union Square’s off days, and I have to confess: the tinier ones are my favorite, due to my aversion to being elbowed when I’m sifting through my produce. Call me crazy.
First, there were radishes.
Then ramps. (I made this risotto and highly, highly recommend it, with ramps or any other sharp spring onion.)
Then teeny, tiny strawberries, so cute I wanted to pinch all of their little cheeks. I could not bring myself to do anything but eat them just like this.
But what I’d really, really been waiting for finally arrived this week: sugar snap peas.
Yes, peas (or mange tout, as I have learned David’s people adorably call them). Of all of the stunning stuff coming off the farms these days, I get excited about green pod fruits. And when I get them home, do I eat them straight? Of course not. (Okay, maybe a few got lost in my belly.) I stick them in a bowl with vinegar and salt and sugar and garlic and peppers and I brine ’em up.
As we might have mentioned once or twice, we here at the Smitten Kitchen are big fans of pickling, and there are few produce items that have been lucky enough to escape our brine’s grasp (or should I say, wrath). We actively ponder what foods might pickle well, but I had never once considered sugar snap peas until their season was long over last year. The fact that I knew their crisp little pods would get even crunchier while their peas would stay ever-sweet and that they’d be perfect in every way and that they were months from in season tortured me all winter. I know, I know, I really need to get out more.
But Tuesday righted all of these wrongs because sugar snaps were here once again, and even though the recipe says I should wait two weeks for them to be ready, I can assure you that even 24 hours later, they’re ready to go. And have no chance of making it two weeks in our fridge.
1 1/4 cups white distilled vinegar
1 1/4 cups cold water
1 tablespoon kosher or pickling salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pound sugar snap peas, stems trimmed and strings removed
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 or 2 small dried chile peppers, slit lengthwise or a couple pinches dried red pepper flakes
In a nonreactive saucepan, heat the vinegar with the salt and sugar until they are dissolved. Remove from the heat, and add the cold water. (This gives you a leg up on getting the liquid to cooling the liquid.)
When the vinegar mixture is cool, pack the sugar snaps, garlic and chile peppers or flakes into a 1-quart jar or bowl, and pour the brine over it. Cover with a non-reactive cap, or, er, plastic wrap.
The original recipe suggests you store the jar in the refrigerator for two weeks before eating the pickled peas, but good luck with that. They’re quite delicious and already lightly pickled by 24 hours later.