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Quick Two-Pea Sauté with Basil and Pecorino

A speedy sauté brings out the natural sweetness of sugar snap peas and enhances their crunch. Fresh English peas, too, gain an intriguing sweetness from quick cooking. In this recipe, the vegetable cousins are tossed with fresh basil, tart lemon zest and tangy pecorino cheese for a delicious, fast side dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 lb. sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 1 lb. English peas, shelled
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 1 lemon
  • Leaves from 4 fresh basil sprigs, cut into thin ribbons
  • Pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 small chunk pecorino romano cheese

Directions:

In a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the oil and melt the butter. Add the snap peas and English peas. Pour in the water and add a pinch of salt. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the water has evaporated, about 2 minutes longer. The peas should be tender-crisp and still bright green.

Finely grate 2 tsp. zest from the lemon, then halve the lemon. Remove the pan from the heat and squeeze the juice from 1 lemon half over the peas (reserve the remaining half for another use). Add the lemon zest, basil and a pinch each of salt and pepper to the pan. Grate some cheese over the top and stir well to mix.

Transfer the peas to a warmed serving dish and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Vegetables, by Jodi Liano (Oxmoor House, 2008).