The garden pea season is over and gone for another year; shame. I rarely cook peas, preferring to eat them directly from the pod, just as I remember doing as a child in my grandfathers’ garden. But, if I do buy sufficient, these juicy peas are ideal for a simple salad; blanch a cupful of podded peas in boiling water for a couple of minutes, drain then immediately refresh in ice cold water before draining once again to stop the cooking process, retaining the bright colour and crisp texture. Combine with a handful of salad leaves, fresh herbs, sliced radish and a sprinkle of vinaigrette, et voilà…

Native to Asia, the mange-tout variety of pea is available year around; also called snow peas this flat version of the garden pea with just a shadow of the immature seeds visible is eaten whole and hence the French name ‘eat all’. Simply prepared by topping and tailing, these crisp, flat pods are best eaten raw or briefly cooked to al dente by blanching or, in stir-fries. Though the term mange-tout is often used in connection to this flat pea it actually refers to all types of pea that can be eaten whole and includes the sugar snap. Fatter than the snow pea, the sugar snap comes to ‘maturity’ at about 85 days of growth as opposed to 68 days for the snow pea, the extra maturity being well worth the wait with heaps more texture and flavour to enjoy. Like mange-tout, sugar snap can be quick cooked but I much prefer to use them finely sliced, raw in salads.

As summer sunshine gives way to the slight nip in today’s deep blue autumnal sky, this recipe for Sugar Snap, Grapefruit & Beet Salad offers a summery citrus tang and is delicious with any roast or grilled meat or fish.

Sugar Snap, Grapefruit & Beet Salad
serves 4

100g Sugar snap peas
1 grapefruit
½ beet
2 tbsp. Olive oil
Sea salt & freshly milled pepper
Chopped parsley, to garnish

On the diagonal, finely slice the sugar snap peas then place in a serving dish. Slice away the skin of the grapefruit then over a bowl, extract the flesh by slicing through each segment, leaving any membrane behind; reserve the juice. Add the grapefruit segments to the sliced peas. Grate the beet and scatter through the salad.

Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of grapefruit juice along with the olive oil over the salad, season with a little salt and pepper and gently toss. Garnish with chopped parsley.