It’s the peak season for English peas, sugar snap peas and fava beans at the farmers’ market. Why not use them all together in one colorful salad?
When I hit up the farmers’ market, it’s usually with a vague plan in mind. I’ll grab some specific goodies, but I also pick up whatever catches my eye to improvise with when I get home.
That’s the fun of cooking with seasonal local produce and how this salad came about. I was trolling the Mar Vista Farmers’ Market stalls, admiring the piles of bright green pods of English peas, sugar snap peas and fava beans.
Why not use them all together? I thought.
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In the past, I’d stirred English peas or fava beans into a lemony, garlicky vinaigrette, and I thought the raw sugar snap peas’ crunch would be an excellent addition this time. So bags of all three came home with me.
These legumes are delicious on their own as well as together. Here’s what to look for when buying them:
When it comes to English peas, look for fresh, plump, bright-green pods. Once in a while, you’ll find them already shelled at the farmers’ market, which is a welcome convenience. Try a sample to ensure they still taste sweet, as peas’ sugars become starchy with time.
A cross between English peas and snow peas, sugar snap peas are the best of both worlds, with a delicate sweetness and crunchy edible pods. Look for plump, bright green pods. They’re delicious raw, as used here, or quickly stir-fried.
(Bonus tip: As I paid for bags of English and sugar snap peas, I pondered how much they looked alike. English pea pods run bigger, the clerk noted. He held up one of each. “Dolphin,” he said, waggling a sugar snap. “Whale,” he added, waving an English pea pod.)
As I paid for bags of English and sugar snap peas, I pondered how much they looked alike. The clerk held up one of each. “Dolphin,” he said, waggling a sugar snap. “Whale,” he noted, waving an English pea pod.)
Fava beans (aka broad beans) come in super-size pods with a fuzzy , cushioned lining, like nature’s packing material. Choose fresh-looking pods, and avoid those bulging or shriveled (both signs of age). I won’t lie: Fresh fava beans are a chore to prepare: You need to shell the beans from their pod, blanch them, then peel the individual beans. If beans are tiny and fresh, you can skip peeling them.
Freshness is critical for all three, so plan to use them within a day or so.
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- The contrast of the vegetal favas, sweet, tender English peas and crunchy raw sugar snaps is what I find appealing about this salad. But use any combination of the legumes you like.
- This is also nice with a sprinkling of feta, goat or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
- Leftovers hold up well for a couple of days. The emerald green of the favas and English peas will mellow to olive green, thanks to the lemon in the dressing, but the overall flavor and texture will still be lovely.
Marinated English Pea, Sugar Snap Pea & Fava Bean Salad
1 pound fava beans (about 1½ cups, shelled)
1 pound English peas (about 1 cup, shelled)
Kosher salt, to taste
8 ounces sugar snap peas
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, grated
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
Flake sea salt, for garnish (optional)
To shell the fava beans and English peas, pinch the stem, pull the string, and open the pod along its seam to reveal the peas/beans inside. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Fill a medium bowl with ice water.
When the water has come to a boil, lightly salt it. Add the fava beans and English peas. Cook 2 minutes. Drain, and add to ice water. Drain.
Peel the fava beans by pinching the peel at one end so the emerald-green bean slides out.
Trim the sugar snap peas by pulling the stem to zip off the tough strings. Thinly slice them on the diagonal. Zest the lemon to equal 1 tsp, and juice the lemon.
In a medium bowl, whisk the lemon zest and juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the English peas, sugar snap peas and fava beans, tossing to coat. Let stand 20 minutes. Taste again, and add more lemon juice, salt and/or pepper to taste. Stir in the mint. If desired, sprinkle with flake sea salt.
Makes 3½ cups.