When I plan a meal the quote, “Everything in moderation, including moderation,” is forever lurking in my brain, except when it comes to vegetables. I love vegetables and could easily have them take over half of my plate for any dinner meal. One vegetable I particularly love is sugar snap peas, and despite the fact that it is not spring, they are widely available at most stores in my area now.
Sugar snap peas have a great sweet pea flavor and a snappy-crispy crunch. They could not be easier to prepare, just clean and trim the ends. Sometimes the fibrous string along the side needs to be pulled off, but I rarely feel it is necessary. I like to eat them raw in a salad, or quickly blanch or sauté them, then toss the snap peas with butter and fresh herbs.
I wanted to make a vegetable side dish that would compliment my chicken entrée that was marinated in yogurt, tahini, and sriracha and roasted in the oven. With the chicken baking in the oven, I could spend the down time on creating a flavorful vegetable side dish. Truth be told, the real inspiration came from the fact that I just happened to have all the ingredients in my refrigerator. I know I should be more studious and plan every meal for the week, but often my dinners are spontaneous creations based on what is in my refrigerator. Spontaneous or not, this is a recipe that compliments most meat entrée and can be adapted for a vegetarian entrée as well.
When cooking with vegetables most of the work involves cleaning and prepping the vegetables. The actual cooking time is very short. For this recipe I have a two-step cooking process for the sugar snap peas. First I blanch them for 30 seconds and set them aside until the mushrooms are sautéed. Then I add the snap peas to the pan with the mushrooms and sauté just long enough to get the sugar snap peas heated through. The blanching and minimal cooking time help maintain the bright green color and crispness of the peas. In this recipe the contrast of the crispy sugar snap peas with the silky sautéed shiitake mushrooms is part of its appeal.
Sautéed sugar snap peas with shiitake mushrooms pair beautifully together. Add minced shallots, fresh ginger and garlic to the sugar snap peas and shiitake mushrooms you have a side dish that can stand on its own merit. Despite the potent ingredients the flavoring is subtle with the ginger adding a bright note that is not overwhelming. I happen to love cooking with fresh ginger. I do not find its flavor to sharp or biting. It is a sweet bite of spice. If you are not a fan of ginger, you can omit the ginger and the sugar snap peas and shiitake mushrooms will have plenty of flavor.
Sugar snap peas with shiitake mushrooms and ginger can be paired with any grilled or roasted meat, chicken or fish. It would make a perfect Thanksgiving side vegetable that would brighten up the rich flavors of the turkey and gravy and stuffing. If you serve this recipe with rice or other grain, the sugar snap peas with shiitake mushrooms and ginger becomes a great vegetarian and vegan meal for Thanksgiving, or for any dinner. Sprinkle some chopped peanuts, almonds, or hazelnuts over the dish and it is even better for vegetarians by adding more protein.
Bits and Tips making Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms
What is a sugar snap pea?
A sugar snap pea is a member of the legume family that originated in East Asia. It is a cross between a snow pea and a garden, or English pea and is widely cultivated in North America. Like the snow pea, sugar snap peas are eaten whole: pod and seed together. They can be enjoyed raw or briefly cooked to keep the crisp snappy texture and bright green color. The fibrous string along the side may need to be removed.
How to store mushrooms:
Mushrooms often come packaged in plastic containers and tightly sealed in plastic wrap. Plastic creates an overly moist environment that will quickly turn the mushrooms slimy. Paper bags are perfect for storing loose mushrooms. Be careful not to crowd the mushrooms, (or any vegetable) in an overly packed crisper drawer. Air movement keeps everything fresh longer.
How to clean mushrooms:
Sometimes mushrooms have a lot of dirt on them and brushing or wiping the dirt off the mushroom is not practical or effective. You can quickly rinse the mushrooms in running water and then pat dry with a paper towel or a clean cloth. Mushrooms are like sponges, so rinse them quick and do not soak them. Clean mushrooms right before you plan on using them.
How to peel ginger:
To peel the skin off of a knobby chunk of ginger root the best tool to use is a spoon. Hold the piece of ginger in your non-working had and a spoon in the other. Gently scratch the ginger skin with the side of the your spoon. The skin should scrape right off without you having to dig into the ginger root. Use a light hand when working. The spoon makes it easy to work around all the knobby ends.
Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms and Ginger
- 1 lb/ 455 g of sugar snap peas- cleaned and trimmed
- 1 Tb olive oil
- 1 medium shallot about 3 oz/ 92 g
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger root
- 1/2 tea Kosher salt divided
- 8 oz/ 246 g shiitake mushrooms
- 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
- Optional garnishes
- About 1 to 2 Tb of chopped fresh herb of your choice- parsley scallions, mint, chives, thyme, (see note)
- Chopped nuts like peanuts almonds or hazelnuts, or toasted sesame seeds are a great garnish
Wash and cut the stem off the sugar snap peas. You can remove the little string at the tip if think it is unsightly.
Cut the stem off the shiitake mushrooms right at the base of the mushroom cap. Discard the stem or reserve for making stock. Slice each mushroom cap in long 1/4 inch strips.
Mince the shallots garlic and set aside in separate piles. If the garlic cloves have a green germ in the middle, remove it before mincing. Peel the skin off of the fresh ginger root then mince. Keep the vegetables in separate piles and set aside.
Quickly blanch the prepared sugar snap peas in boiling salted water for about 30 seconds. As soon as the water returns to a boil. Drain the water from the sugar snap peas. Keep the peas in a colander and set aside.
Putting it all together
Heat a large 10 or 12 inch skillet on medium heat and add 1 Tb olive oil.
Add the minced shallots and stir to evenly coat with the olive oil. Cook the shallots until they are translucent. Stir occasionally to prevent them from sticking to the pan and to prevent browning. About 4 minutes.
Add the minced garlic, ginger and 1/4 tea Kosher salt, then stir to coat with the olive oil and mix with the shallots. Cook until the garlic and ginger become aromatic, about 1 minute.
Add the sliced mushrooms and stir until they are evenly combined with the shallot mixture. Cook the mushrooms and occasionally stir them until the mushrooms have reduced in size, look glossy and released all its liquid. About 5 minutes.
Pour in the stock into the pan and stir to deglaze the pan and cook off the liquid for a minute.
Add the sugar snap peas and the rest of the Kosher salt then stir to combine. Cook the vegetables briefly just to get the sugar snap peas heated all the way through. About 2 minutes.
Taste and add more salt if needed.
Depending on what you are serving the sugar snap peas with, will dictates what herb or garnish you may want to finish it with. Sugar snap peas and shiitake mushrooms with ginger is perfectly delicious as is, but I always like to add fresh herbs to finish a meal. For this recipe the ginger should remain the dominant seasoning, choose an herb, if using, to compliment the ginger and your main entree, like parsley and mint and use a light hand adding it.
© 2016 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
It is hard to think about turning on the oven when it is so hot and humid outside. It is ironic to me that during the summer when the sun and the heat produces abundant amounts of fruits and vegetables, turning on a heat source to cook vegetables, or anything else for that matter, is the last thing on our mind. Fortunately fruits and vegetables can be eaten raw or cooked, hot or cold. During this crazy hot weather it is ideal to be thrifty and make one meal that can be used later for several additional meals.
Ratatouille is just that kind of dish. It can be used as a side dish with grilled meats or fish, a sauce to cook eggs or fish in, a sauce to mix with pasta or other grain for a vegetarian entrée. Ratatouille is so versatile it is worth turning on the oven once for the multiple meals it creates in the future.
I was not a huge fan of ratatouille until I tried this recipe from Mark Bittman at cooking.nytimes.com. One reason being, I first learned to cook ratatouille by sautéing each vegetable separately then combining all the vegetables in a crock and bake until bubbly. No thanks. There can be at least five different vegetables and that is just too laborious on any summer day. Secondly, I like eggplant but I do not love it, so making something with eggplant is not my first idea or inspiration. Eggplant is a stunning and beautiful plant. The color is one of my favorites and why I haven’t dismissed it altogether. The flavor, by itself, just does not excite me. With this recipe the eggplant helps give ratatouille body developing on the classic pairing of eggplant and tomatoes. The fennel and fresh herbs makes the ratatouille bright. Each ingredient adds a layer of flavor to create a medley of roasted vegetables that does not feel heavy.
Three aspects make this recipe stand out: fennel, chickpeas and the simple preparation. The fennel lightens the flavor of the roasted vegetables and the chickpeas turn it into a substantial meal when served as a vegetarian/vegan entrée. I also find the concentrated sweetness of the roasted red peppers gives the ratatouille its depth of flavor and body. Thanks to Mark Bittman, who was the Minimalist Chef for the Times, developed a cooking process that is simple and effective. There is no need to sauté each ingredient separately, just assemble the prepared vegetables on a sheep pan and roast. When finished add a large handful of fresh herbs and the ratatouille is as bright and beautiful as a summer day.
Turn on the oven for one hour and you will create a mixed vegetable cornucopia you can enjoy, for two or three additional meals. Make fennel and chickpea ratatouille as a vegetable side dish, tonight I am serving my ratatouille with lamb burgers. Or, serve ratatouille as a sauce for pasta or mixed with your favorite grain. Additionally, spread ratatouille on grilled toasts or make an open face sandwich by adding cheese and putting it under the broiler for lunch or an appetizer. Add a fried egg to the ratatouille and you have a great breakfast or light dinner.You do not need more recipes to create the additional meals, just imagine and go. The possibilities are endless.
Don’t throw out your chickpea water, make aquafaba meringue cookies
Fennel and Chickpea Ratatouille
Fennel and Chickpea Ratatouille
- 1 medium eggplant 1 lb or less
- 2 medium zucchinis about 1 lb
- 1 pound of plum Roma tomatoes
- 2 red and/or yellow sweet bell peppers
- 1 fennel bulb
- 1 onion
- 5 garlic cloves peeled and cut in half (green germ removed)
- 1/4 cup about 60 ml olive oil
- 1 tea Kosher salt
- 3 cups cooked chickpeas 2 15 oz cans of cooked chickpeas, about 1 lb, or 487 g)
- 2 Tbs minced fresh herbs such as rosemary with thyme or lemon thyme or basil and parsley. If you do not have fresh herbs you can use 1 1/2 tea of dried Herbs De Provence.
- You will need a large roasting pan I used 12" x 17" x 2" pan. (30.5 cm x 43 cm x 5 cm)
Pre- heat the oven to 425 degrees F/ 220 degrees C/ Gas Mark 7
Cut each vegetable into similar size pieces, about one inch. There is no need to peel the eggplant, do so if it is your preference. Combine all the chopped vegetables and garlic in a large roasting pan. If you do not have a pan large enough you can use two separate pans, like rimmed baking sheets, but your cooking time might change. Add the salt and olive oil and mix until evenly combined. (If you are using dried herbs add them now.)
Bake the vegetables in the oven for 40 minutes. Add the chickpeas to the vegetables and fresh rosemary, if using. Bake for an additional 10 minutes or until all the vegetables are evenly cooked through and there is some browning in the pan. Once the vegetables are cooked take the pan out of the oven and mix in any reserved fresh herbs you are planning to use.
Serve hot or room temperature.
There are a lot of vegetables in this recipe and a large roasting pan is perfect for the job. You can use a rimmed baking sheet and divide the vegetables in half and bake on two sheets. You just might need more time roasting the vegetables.
Feel free to substitute any vegetable with your favorite summer vegetables, just keep the sizes of the chopped pieces similar. Ratatouille is traditionally tomato based vegetable "stew" that is easily adapted to what you have on hand.
© 2016 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.