Many people adore snap peas but I’m lukewarm about them. I associate them with commercially packaged crudite packages filled with raw broccoli and cauliflower florets, and unreal capsule-shape carrots, all surrounding a tub of dressing/dip. Then there were 1990s, when I ‘discovered’ snap peas and cooked them whole on high heat, thinking I’d replicate the glamorous dishes found at restaurants and in magazine photos. I was consistently disappointed by the slippery green pods that were cute but hard to chase around the plate, especially with chopsticks.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a snap pea turnaround at La Posta, a nice Cal-Italian restaurant in Santa Cruz. We ordered a side (contorni) of snap peas and squash with lovage (an herb) and ricotta salata (dryish, lightly salted ricotta). It sounded unusual and it tasted surprisingly good, mostly because of the way the snap peas were cut (into small pieces) and cooked (seared on high heat till they got some color). It wasn’t the most beautiful dish because the snap peas were an olive green, but the cooking method turned the snap pea into a serious vegetable, one with complexity that went beyond its mere snappiness.