This sweet legume is a favorite among people of all ages. As nitrogen fixing plants, sugar snap peas have many nutritional benefits, for both the soil and personal health. Not to be confused with snow peas, English garden, or shelling peas (all great in their own right), sugar snap peas have an edible pod that is full and rounded in appearance and offer a distinct snappy, juicy crunch.
In the Garden
When selecting your snap pea seeds, make sure you’re purchasing the correct variety. It’s easy to confuse sugar snap peas with a shelling variety like English garden peas.
Snap peas can be planted in early spring as soon as you can work the soil in your garden. In much of Montana this is in late March or early April. Peas are a cool season crop which means they can stand a bit of cold weather and do not like the hot heat of summer. Plant one snap pea seed every 1-2 inches in two parallel 1-2” deep trenches, about 6-8 inches apart. Cover with soil and water the plants well. Snap peas love to climb, so adding a trellis in between your parallel rows will keep your plants happy.
It takes about 60 days for your pea seeds to become fat, juicy pods ready to harvest. Harvest snap peas when they are full and round, about the width of a pinky finger. Once you begin harvesting, check them every 1-2 days to scout for additional ripe peas.
In your Medicine Cabinet
Did you know legumes, including snap peas, are considered part of both the protein and the vegetable food group? This means they provide well-balanced nutritional benefits including fiber to keep our digestive system moving, starchy carbohydrates to provide our body with energy, and plant-based protein that aids in muscle recovery and balancing blood sugars. They are also a great source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Manganese, and Magnesium. Aren’t plants cool?
In the Kitchen
Snap peas can be used in a variety of dishes. They add a sweet, crunchy element to snacks and meals. As an appetizer, they are tasty served raw with hummus or your favorite dip. They are also wonderful mixed into cold or hot pasta dishes or lightly sautéed with lemon and garlic for a simple side.
One of our favorite ways to eat this vegetable, however, is in a refreshing salad. Snap peas are a blank canvas. All you need for a great salad is a light vinaigrette, some herbs, and your favorite creamy cheese. Check out our recipe for a quick summer snap pea salad below!
Summer Snap Pea Salad
8 oz sugar snap peas (about 2 cups), sliced
1 ½ cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 Tbsp green onions, light part only, sliced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp champagne vinegar
½ small lemon, juiced
½ tsp dijon mustard
¼ tsp maple syrup
Sprinkle of salt and pepper