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Peas and Carrots never looked like this in grandmother’s kitchen. Local farm stands and farmers markets offer sugar snap peas and baby carrots, both sweet vegetable treats of spring. With the addition of a quick crumb topping, this side dish is ready for company.

Food and Drink / Column

Not your grandmother’s peas and carrots

There is no excuse for grabbing a bag of frozen peas and carrots at this time of year when the first spring planting of both are hitting the farmstands and farmers’ markets. With a little updating, peas and carrots move from an invisible side dish to a memorable part of your dinner.

The sugar snap peas are finally available, and they are plump and flavorful. Look for pods that are deep green and full, with no wrinkled or yellowing skin.

The first new carrots have also appeared and are sweet, tender, and fragrant. As I was preparing this dish for dinner recently, my granddaughter commented that she didn’t know carrots could smell so good!

Save some of the greens as well; every part of the carrot is edible. You can use the greens in pesto or add them to soups, salads, or this side dish.

First, make the crumb topping. In a food processor, combine:

¶2 plump garlic cloves

¶2 Tbsp. blanched almonds

¶{1/4} cup panko bread crumbs

¶1 tsp. sweet or hot paprika

¶A few carrot fronds or parsley

Whirl them around until pulverized.

Place a skillet over medium-high heat and add:

¶1 Tbsp. olive oil

¶2 Tbsp. butter

Sauté, stirring constantly, until the mixture lightly toasts. This will take just a few minutes. Dump into a bowl and set aside.

Prep the vegetables. Wash and peel:

¶{1/2} lb. baby carrots

Trim the tops to a few inches.

Snap off the ends and remove the strings from the sides of:

¶12 ounces sugar snap peas.

In the same skillet you browned the crumbs in, add an additional tablespoon of olive oil and:

¶2 anchovies

Break up the anchovies and add the carrots in a single layer on the bottom of the pan.

Let the carrots cook for 5 minutes; turn if they are browned. If not, let them cook for a minute or two more.

Turn the carrots, add:

¶2 Tbsp. white wine

Cover and reduce the heat to medium low. The timing of this all depends on the size of your carrots. If they are really tiny, this could take less time to cook than the peas!

After a minute or so, add the peas and cover again.

Once the peas are just about there, add:

¶2 ounces pea shoots, optional

Cover, remove from heat, and let sit for a couple of minutes or until the shoots have wilted.

Plate, season with salt and pepper, and top with the crumbs.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #517 (Wednesday, July 3, 2019). This story appeared on page C2.

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