First, can I just say “Yum?!” This is super delicious, surprisingly healthy, and a constant special occasion request of Clinton’s. I made this most recently for Easter, but it’d be great for any holiday meal or any time you want to really wow a dinner party. The three different types of peas have such a fresh pop of flavor, the dates add a bit of sweetness, and a hint of cayenne pepper adds a bit of a kick that takes this side to the next level.
This super tasty, surprisingly healthy side dish is always a crowd pleaser.
What you’ll need:
10 ounce bag of frozen peas, thawed
1 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed
1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, diced
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped dates (fresh or dried work fine)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
What you’ll need to do:
The most important part of making this dish happen is the prep. Since there’s a lot of moving parts once you get going, having everything thawed, trimmed, and chopped before you begin will make the whole process go a lot more smoothly. Just make sure that as you prep each ingredient, you keep everything segregated because they each go in at different times in the process.
Start by thawing your peas. If it’s a steamable bag of frozen peas (like the kind I’m so fond of), cook slightly less than the package recommends. Or, just leave them in the refrigerator all day. You don’t want them to be too cooked, but you don’t want them to be frozen either.
Then get to work on trimming your peas. For both the sugar snap peas and the snow peas, cut off both ends of the peas (just a little bit!). Set the sugar snap peas aside, and then slice the snow peas very thinly. You can either go horizontally or vertically across the peas – I thick slicing vertically is prettier.
This is bout how much you want to take off the ends of your sugar snap peas.
Lastly, dice your shallot into medium-fine pieces. Chop your walnuts (or buy them already chopped) and chop your dates.
Now it’s time to cook. Simultaneously, get a large pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil heating over medium heat, a medium pot of salted water boiling on your stove, and a large bowl of ice water ready on your counter. After your pan is heated and your water is boiling, we’re going to get both shallot cooking in the pan and the peas cooking in the pot all at the same time. This is why it’s so important to prep first!
Starting with the shallot, throw the shallot in your pan and cook until soft (about 2 minutes). Add the walnuts, dates, and cayenne pepper and cook until the walnuts are toasted (about 1 more minute). After this is done, turn off the heat. Because you’re doing everything simultaneously, the peas will be done and it’s time to add them to the pan.
The amount of flavor in the combination is out of this world. It feels so luxurious and indulgent without adding a ton of fat, sugar, or carbs like you'd find in a typical holiday side.
Now about those peas… While your shallot is cooking, your water should be boiling. Add the snap peas and cook until green (about 2 minutes, or right after you add the walnuts, dates, and cayenne pepper to your pan). Then, add your snow peas for about 30 seconds. Immediately turn off the heat, drain your peas, and plunge them into your bowl of ice water. This shocks the peas and helps them keep their green color and crispy texture. After they’ve cooled, drain.
Your shallot, walnut, date, and cayenne mixture should be coming a finish at about the same time as your peas (remember, those thawed peas have been sitting there ready to go, so we really haven’t had anything to do with them yet). If your timing is a little off, no big deal at all. This isn’t supposed to be a hot dish, so your shallot, walnut, date, and cayenne mixture can sit in the pan (with the heat off) for as long as you need to catch up. In any case, when both mixture are ready, add all your peas (including the thawed peas) to the large pan with the shallot, walnuts, dates, and cayenne. Add the last tablespoon of olive oil and mix together.
Serve slightly warm from the pan or at room temperature. And while this dish requires a bit of a balancing act, it only takes about 30 minutes to make. Yum, yum, yum…