Perhaps more than any other item sold at local Greenmarkets, sugar snap peas attract clusters of light-fingered fans who compulsively nibble the crunchy pods, taking the French name for these sweet legumes—mangetout, or “eat-all”—larcenously to heart. A cross between the English pea and the snow pea, the sugar snap is delicious raw or just barely cooked. Pichet Ong, chef-owner of P*ONG, employs his pastry background in this unusual salad, which utilizes almond purée both as a rich, creamy foil to the crunchy peas and as a neat way to anchor them to the plate.
Pichet Ong’s Sugar Snap Pea Salad With Mint, Parmesan, and Almond Purée
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoon almond oil (or extra-virgin olive oil)
8 ounces fresh sugar snap peas, washed (available Wednesdays at Kernan’s Union Square stand)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon lemon juice
½ tablespoon minced shallots
½ teaspoon mustard
¼ teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped before serving
Parmigiano-Reggiano for shaving
Freshly ground pepper
To make almond purée, bring milk, ¼ teaspoon salt, and almonds to a low simmer. Cover and let cook for about 12 minutes or until almonds are tender. Transfer to a food processor and purée with almond oil until smooth. To cook peas, bring 2 quarts of water with ½ teaspoon of salt to a boil. String the pods. Prepare an ice-and-water bath, and (1) drop the pods in the boiling water for 10 seconds. Drain them and transfer them to the ice bath, swishing them around so they cool quickly, then drain again. Split the pods in half, cover, and refrigerate until needed. For the dressing, whisk together oil, lemon juice, shallots, mustard, sugar, and remaining salt. Toss peas with dressing and mint. (2) For each serving, smear 2 tablespoons of almond purée on a plate and top with the tossed sugar snap peas. (3) Shave cheese on top, finish with a grind of fresh pepper, and serve immediately.