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snow peas

Green Bean and Snow Pea Salad + Giveaway!

As snow pea season draws to an end and green beans of all colors begin to make an appearance, this salad threw itself together and landed on my table.  I had a huge bag of snow peas waiting in the fridge, and while I spend hours picking them at my work, I just never know what to with the edible pods.  As easy as it is for me to skim over them on the bushes, for me, they often camouflage right into the dishes they’re used in too. I like snow peas, but they never tend to be my favorite part of the stir fry.  Since I knew I wouldn’t get a chance to cook with anymore this season, this time I decided to let the snow peas I had be one of the stars, pairing them with no other components except green beans.

I just picked up one of my first batches of green beans.  That’s one vegetable that’s always been a star in my diet.  It’s weird to think about now, but growing up I absolutely loathed broccoli, and like most kids, greens weren’t my favorite dinner item either.  But green beans, I could never get enough of.  To this day, they’re still one of my favorites, although broccoli and kale have climbed their way up the list too.

Anyways, I wasn’t sure about modifying my favorite green bean steam with snow peas, but it turns out that snow peas and green beans were made for each other. The  individual flavors of each vegetable distinctly stand out in this dish, and the dressing is kept on the light side to help enhance this distinction.  The green beans have a faint sweetness that works well with the more earthy tones of the snow peas.  I like my snow peas a little more on the tender side, so I cook them here until they’ve reached that point.  If you like them crunchy, as typically prepared in stir-fry, check in on them a little on the early side.

Today, I’m also hosting a giveaway from Stonyfield.  Enter to win coupons for FREE Stonyfield Organic Chocolate Dipped Frozen Yogurt Bars in addition to one FREE bottle of Uncle Matt’s Organic Juice.  Here’s how you enter.

Click here for GIVEAWAY and RECIPE…

Shrimp and Snow Pea Stir Fry

With shrimp in the fridge and snow peas in the garden, I knew I wanted to make a stir fry.  Utilizing snow peas in stir-fries is classic, and probably my favorite way to cook them.  As I was perusing the latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated, I conveniently came across a recipe for “stir-fried shrimp with snow peas and red bell pepper in hot and sour sauce”.  I immediately knew that that would be my dinner the following night.

I love cooking magazines, and along with Vegetarian Times, Cook’s Illustrated ranks among my top two favorites.  I even wrote a whole paper about the magazine for one of my college courses last year, which is when I found out that Cook’s Illustrated tests their recipes as many as 70 times in order to find just the right combination of ingredients before printing!  No wonder their recipes pretty much always turn out amazing, and this one was no different.

The key to shrimp is keeping it tender, something that’s certainly not always easy to do.  Cook’s recipe calls for a 30-minute marinade that employs the key ingredient of salt to help the robust flavors of garlic and ginger seep into the shrimp as well as to help the shrimp retain their juices while cooking in order to avoid making the them tough.  The result:  super tender shrimp and a dish that was far superior to those served in most restaurants.

With that I’ll leave you the slightly modified version of Cook Illustrated’s shrimp stir fry.

Stir-Fried Shrimp with Snow Peas and Red Bell Pepper in Hot and Sour Sauce

(Serves 4)

-2 medium garlic cloves, 1 minced, 1 thinly sliced
-1 pound extra-large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
-1 Tbsp. fresh ginger
-3 Tbsp. canola oil
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. soy sauce
-3 Tbsp. sugar
-3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
-1/2 Tbsp. Siracha
-1 Tbsp. dry sherry
-2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
-1 Tbsp. ketchup
-2 tsp. cornstarch
-1 large shallot, sliced thin (about 1/3 cup)
-1/2 pound snow peas
-1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch dice

1.  Combine minced garlic, ginger, 1 Tbsp. oil, and salt in a medium bowl.  Add shrimp, and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, whisk soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, Siracha, sherry, sesame oil, ketchup, and corn starch in a small bowl.  Combine sliced garlic with shallot in a second small bowl.

3.  Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking.  Add snow peas and bell pepper, and cook 4-5 minutes until vegetables begin to brown, stirring frequently.  Transfer veggies to a medium bowl.

4.  Add remaining Tbsp. oil in the now-empty skillet.  Add garlic-shallot mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, about 30 seconds.  Add shrimp, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring frequnetly, until shrimp are light pink on both sides (about 1 to 1-1/2 minutes).  Add soy sauce mixture to skillet; return to high heat and cook, stirring constantly until sauce is thickened and shrimp are cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes.  Return veggies to skillet, and toss to combine.  Serve alongside rice.