Recipes for spring’s snappiest green vegetable

An oval platter with a salad on it, with small round dishes next to it
Sugar snap peas add vibrancy and crunch to potato salads, chicken skillet braises, pasta and a greens-packed salad.
(Evan Sung / For The Times)

I’m not a huge salad person. A bowl of lettuce leaves — while refreshing when dressed in a lemony vinaigrette and served as a side to a roast chicken or steak — just doesn’t appeal to me on its own (I know I’m in the minority with this opinion here in Southern California). But give me a bowl of chopped cucumbers, roasted asparagus or blanched sugar snap peas, and I’ve never been happier. All three give that same “water crunch” texture of lettuce but with a lot more substance.

Sugar snap peas, in particular, are one of those vegetables I never tire of eating, but I only allow myself to eat them at the peak of spring, when they’re at their best. A bowlful of blanched and perfectly salted snap peas is as close as you can get to ever hearing me say, “I could eat these like french fries!”

One of my favorite ways to enjoy them is in the Exchange’s Spring Pea Salad With Pistachio Pipian. Sugar snaps, shelled peas and pea shoots triple the pea-based crunch of this salad mounded on top of a tart, creamy dressing made with tomatillos, serrano chiles and pistachios. Eat it as a side for grilled fish or chicken, sure, but I love a giant bowl of it with a piece of warm pita, baguette or flour tortillas to sop up all that dressing at the bottom of the bowl.

My Crunchy and Spicy Green Potato Salad is another eat-in-one-bowl wonder. Serrano chiles, cilantro, cumin and cardamom combine in a zhoug-inspired dressing for potato salad that’s enlivened further with crunchy cucumbers and halved sugar snap peas. The peas add a weighty crunch to the tender potatoes and lean cucumbers.

Ali Slagle has a great recipe for Skillet Chicken Thighs With Peas and Pickled Chiles where the peas, both sugar snaps and shelled, cook in the rendered fat of chicken thighs. Red chiles, herbs and crumbled cotija round out the crunchy peas with plenty of heat and creaminess.


And when I’m down to my last handful of sugar snaps, I love to thinly slice them and use them in place of shelled peas in Genevieve Ko’s Spring Pea Carbonara. The peas are light enough to add freshness while also substantial enough on their own to stand up to the salty-rich tangle of eggy, cheesy, prosciutto-packed pasta.

Crunchy and Spicy Green Potato Salad

The dressing for this fresh, spring potato salad is inspired by zhoug, the fiery chile sauce from Yemen that goes well on basically anything. Here, serrano chiles add heat, but you can tame them by removing the seeds from as many chiles as you want.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 45 minutes, plus 1 hour chilling.

An oval white, blue-rimmed platter holds Green Potato Salad with Zhoug,
(Shelby Moore / For The Times)

Skillet Chicken Thighs With Peas and Pickled Chiles

Rendering chicken skin offers both crisp chicken and fat for sautéeing peas in a chile-spiked dressing. Herbs bolster the freshness of the peas, while crumbly cheese adds heft to this light, spring chicken dish.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 40 minutes.

A cast-iron skillet holds Chicken Thighs With Peas, Pickled red Chiles and Mint

Enjoying this newsletter?

Consider becoming a Times subscriber.

The Exchange’s Spring Pea Salad With Pistachio Pipian

This bright spring salad is made with a tart tomatillo-based pipian sauce — traditionally made with pumpkin seeds — that blends in pistachios instead, which also add great crunch as a topping. Serve it on its own with toasted sourdough or as a side to grilled fish or chicken.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 30 minutes.

A white oval platter holds spring pea salad with pistachios
(Evan Sung / For The Times)

Spring Pea Carbonara

The creaminess of carbonara comes from eggs and Parmesan blending into a silky sauce when tossed with al dente noodles. Here, wide pappardelle replaces spindly spaghetti to cradle fresh peas and salty prosciutto.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 20 minutes.

A round white plate of pappardelle with peas and prosciutto
(Leslie Grow / For The Times)

Have a cooking question?

Email us.