What Is Mange-tout?

By SE Gall

Mange tout are also called sugar peas, sugar snap peas or snow peas. They're flat pods containing young peas that are harvested before they have a chance to grow. Literally translated from the French words "manger" (to eat) and "tout" (all), you can buy these peas at the grocery store most of the year or you can grow your own.

Chicken strudel
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Steam mange tout peas briefly and serve them as a spring vegetable.

Choosing Mange Tout

When shopping for mange tout, choose those that are bright green and appear crisp. Fresh peas have a dull "bloom" on them, but underneath that, they should seem shiny. Look for those that appear fresh and unblemished although some white scarring on the peas is normal.

Preparing Mange Tout

To prepare mange tout for cooking, rinse them thoroughly and pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. cut just the tip from each end of the pod. Discard any that have discoloration or those that are limp. The pods can be left whole or cut into 1-inch sections.

Basic Mange Tout Cooking

Mange tout are delicious eaten raw, added to salads or served with a dip as part of a raw vegetable platter. Because they need so little cooking, and taste best with a slight crunch, make sure you only heat them briefly. To blanch them, drop them in hot water for two to three minutes. You can also steam them. To use them in a stir-fry, add them near the end of the cooking time so they cook for only a minute or two.

Storing Mange Tout

The pods are best eaten on the day you buy them or pick them, but you can keep them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a day or two. Their flavor deteriorates quickly, so the sooner you eat them, the better. The pods are suitable for freezing after washing, trimming and being thoroughly dried. Keep them for no more than three months in the freezer.

Serving Ideas for Mange Tout

For the simplest preparation, cook the pods in a steamer for one to two minutes or stir-fry until they are tender but still slightly crisp. They can also be boiled in salted water for two minutes. Once cooked, they can be eaten as is, or tossed with some olive oil or butter, salt and pepper. For a more elaborate recipe, the pods are delicious when stir-fried in olive oil with chopped green onions, garlic, salt, pepper and chopped fresh mint.