Of all the ways to cook a sugar snap pea, roasting at high heat was never at the top of my list.
To me, the joy of a sugar snap was always in its crunch — that juicy pop when you bit one in half. And that is exactly what a stint in a hot oven would obliterate.
Besides, with their season being so frustratingly short in the Northeast, I hardly had enough time to eat my fill of them raw or quickly blanched before they disappeared. Roasting was just not a priority.
Eventually, though, I had to try it. After all, I’ve enjoyed roasting pretty much every other vegetable out there. (Even the less obviously roast-able ones, like radishes and lettuces, have their charms.) So I threw a pan of peas into the oven to see what would happen.
Visually, the result was not encouraging. The peas wilted, shriveled and dimmed, their bright green fading into a muddy khaki.
But the flavor was divine: a rich, concentrated essence of sweet peas layered with savory caramelized notes. Roasting may quiet the peas’ crunch, but it amplifies their sweetness — and they have sweetness in spades.
Paired with spiced salmon fillets and red onions, the roasted sugar snaps form the basis of a speedy one-pan meal. Peas and salmon are a classic combination, but the almost-candylike flavor of the sugar snaps coupled with the earthy spice blend on the fish make the dish taste different — deeper, more aromatic and complex.
Although you could probably use almost any spice blend here, I like those with warm, earthy notes, like baharat and garam masala. Combined with some grated garlic, I smeared the spice blend onto the salmon before briefly browning the fish, leaving fragrant, savory drippings in the pan. Those drippings then seasoned the peas and onions, infusing them as they softened.
Because salmon cooks so quickly, you’ll need to keep your eye on it. For fish that’s still rare at the center, look for a temperature of 110 to 120 degrees at the center of the fillet. Or, poke a fillet with a toothpick or paring knife; it should slide in easily, but not yet flake.
The only thing you’ll need to complete this one-pan meal is a loaf of crusty bread. Not only will it soak up all those tasty drippings at the bottom of the pan, but it can even provide the missing crunch.
And to Drink …
Salmon is assertive enough to go with red wine. Simply grilled, it’s a wonderful pairing for red Burgundy and other pinot noir wines. You could certainly open a red and enjoy it with this dish, but given the vegetables and the spice blend, I would probably opt for a white, preferably a rich white that would match the weight of the fish. A good Chablis would be an excellent choice, as would other chardonnays, provided they are not too oaky. You could also try a dry riesling from Austria or Alsace, or a dry Savennières from the Loire Valley. Sherry lovers can imagine how delicious a fino would be with this dish. Others might be pleasantly surprised. ERIC ASIMOV