Sautéed Snap Peas with Green Garlic

Because everyone in my family is a fan, we always plant lots and lots of snap peas for spring harvest. Raw or cooked, snap peas are an easy sell veggie — sweet, crunchy pods and wavy green tendrils, how could you resist? Often, the girls will head out to the garden and fill up a basket with peas for dinner, munching all the way (wow, annoying bucolic beauty overload, Val –indulge me, please). We’ve had a great crop this year and I don’t think we’re alone; I’ve spied gorgeous snap peas at the farmers market and grocery stores, too.

spring garden

Leaning tower of peas.

spring garden

Can you spot the doggie?

Back by the chicken coop I decided try planting some purple garlic. I used a few bulbs from the farmers market as seed with great success. It’s turned into a two-for-one because as I’ve been thinning the row (I over-planted a wee bit) we’ve been eating those early shoots as green garlic.

Green garlic has a lovely mild flavor and sweetness, it’s less “hot and sticky” than normal full-headed garlic. It’s more like garlic and leek had a baby. Be sure to seek out green garlic at the farmers market, it’s a great way to get that pleasing garlic flavor without peeling endless cloves.


This recipe below I first made for Easter on a whim and it was delicious. I flash-fried snap peas with lemon zest, thyme, sea salt and black pepper for about three minutes on high heat. I poured that onto a big white platter and right before we sat down I sautéed thinly sliced green garlic with a bit of the shoot in a few tablespoons of olive oil, then poured it all over the peas. By mid-meal there wasn’t a pea left on the table.


You can also try this method/recipe with asparagus and get a similarly tasty result. Feel free to play around with different spring herbs trying tarragon, savory or mint. Be light with the lemon, just a touch of lemon juice brightens the sweet flavors in this simple dish, and too much lemon will quickly overwhelm the gentle flavor of the garlic.

snap peas

Sautéed Snap Peas with Green Garlic

Serves four as a side

Note: The snap peas used for the recipe were fat and huge. I sliced them in half on the bias in order to keep the integrity of the pea shape. If your peas are smaller you don’t need to slice at all. When you clean the strings off pinch the crown top and gently snap the top off and pull down toward the bottom of the pea. If you do it right, you’ll get both strings off the pod with one movement.


2 heaping cups sugar snap peas, washed and strings removed

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon thyme leaves (woody stems discarded), plus more for garnish

1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Pinch of red chili flakes

1/4 cup green garlic, thinly sliced (1-2 green garlic heads with about an inch of the green stem)


Using a veggie peeler, peel three pieces of the lemon skin and reserve. Cut the lemon in half and extract about 1 teaspoon of juice, reserve.

Now, place a large sauté pan on medium high heat and add 11/2 tablespoons of olive oil, once it starts to dance around the pan add sugar snap peas, salt, pepper(s), lemon zest and thyme. Sauté until the skin on the pea begins to blister, about 3- 5 minutes. Place the cooked peas (which should be slightly golden in some spots on the outside, but crunchy on the inside) onto plate.

Next, add the remaining olive oil to the pan with the green garlic and cook on medium until soft and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add the peas back to the pan also adding the lemon juice. Toss to incorporate and warm. Mound the peas on a platter and garnish with remaining thyme leaves and sea salt. Serve.

spring side