Monday, July 13, 2015

Do You Hate Vegetables?

Sugar Snap Peas
I lived my early life thinking that vegetables were a necessary but evil part of a meal.  At my house my mother used the boil-to-death method of cooking carrots, peas, broccoli and corn on the cob.  Asparagus, spinach, mushrooms and green beans came out of a can.  Luckily she had never heard of eggplant.  Meanwhile, my grandmother’s beet-red borscht looked like a bowl of blood.

Eventually I grew up and, after tasting fresh peas right out of their pods, realized I had been misinformed.  I ate real borscht in Moscow, fried artichokes in Rome and okra in New Delhi.  I liked the spicy garlic eggplant someone ordered for me in Hong Kong.  Now I happily drive 5 miles out of my way to stock up on super-fresh vegetables—including bok choy, kale and chard.  I even tried mustard greens the other day.

I was reminded of my one-time vegetable aversion this morning when I got an email from a 40-year-old acquaintance named Eric, who is about to become a first-time father.  In answer to my request to pick out a sandwich I was getting for him, he said, “I’ll take the grilled pesto chicken breast (no lettuce or tomato, because I am a four year old).”

To Eric I dedicate this very easy recipe. 
Two-Minute Sugar Snap Peas – serves 3-4  
1/2 pound fresh sugar snap peas 
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil 

Thoroughly rinse the sugar snap peas.  Pat dry.  Very large sugar snap peas have a tough string along one edge.  To remove it before cooking, snap 1/4-inch off the pod’s stem end and pull it off.  

Add the oil to a pot, frying pan or wok and begin heating over high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the sugar snap pea pods and stir-fry for about 2 minutes, or until some of them start getting brown and blistery.  Transfer to a serving bowl.