There is nothing like the bright green crunch of a sugar snap pea straight off the vine. At their prime, sugar snap peas are nature’s candy. Eating them freshly picked is a revelation of how amazing mother nature truly is. With their natural sweetness, it is really hard to improve upon sugar snap peas in their raw form. However, it is also hard to improve upon a bowl of simple creamy, parmesan pasta! Put the sugar snap peas and pasta together, along with some lemon zest and dollops of ricotta and voila, you have perfection!
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This sugar snap pea pasta with lemon and ricotta is my go-to recipe when sugar snap peas first start appearing at the farmers market. It is quick, simple to put together, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. You can watch me make it in this video.
Cook with the Seasons
Because this recipe has minimal ingredients, try to get the the freshest peas you can get your hands on. This recipe can also be made with english peas if that is what you are finding at the market or have growing off your own vines.
Sometimes I like to purchase local artisan pasta when making this dish to go all out. Here, I found some beautiful farfalle pasta for that old-school bowtie pasta vibe. Also, I go for the full fat ricotta and freshly grated parmesan here.
The lemon zest and mint at the end really make this sugar snap pea pasta sing. Make sure to salt your water well (it should taste like the sea), and add a few turns of cracked pepper at the end. Then enjoy every bit of this creamy, late spring goodness in your bowl!
Cook with Me Video: Sugar Snap Pea Pasta with Lemon and Ricotta
- Slice the sugar snap peas diagonally. I love it when random peas fall out, and you have all these different textures and shapes in your bowl. Sautee them only until they turn bright green so they don’t lose their crunch.
- Instead of using a colander to drain the pasta, I time its cooking so that I can put it directly from the pasta pot into the pot I’ve cooked the peas in. Immediately after I drop my pasta in the boiling water, I start cooking my other ingredients since they only need a quick sautee. I use a spider tool like this one to transfer big scoopfulls of pasta at a time. Staub makes my favorite french oven that I use for pasta, stews, soups, and basically anything I can’t fit into my cast iron skillet.
- Save at least 1 cup of the pasta water. It helps to meld all the ingredients together and make a simple sauce along with the parmesan cheese.
- Add salt in layers in small pinches at a time (except for the pasta water — you want that to taste like sea water!) Salt the pasta water. Salt the garlic. Salt the peas. Then taste at the end and salt more if needed. Freshly cracked pepper is a must.
- I finish most of my foods with crunchy, flaky Maldon salt. I keep it on hand at all times both next to my stove and on the table top. This smoked version takes everything up a notch.
- Are you looking for something to do with the extra ricotta? I love to top it on toast, add some fruit (like figs, strawberries, or plums), drizzle on some honey, and eat it for breakfast!
Add-Ons and Substitutions
- If you are craving this dish in non-pea season, a bag of frozen peas works in a pinch.
- Add whatever herbs you have on hand to liven up this dish even more. Basil and parsley would also be great here.
- Add more plant power by tossing in some fresh microgreens at the end. Sauteed chopped asparagus or ramps (my favorite!) would also be great in here.
Simple Sugar Snap Pea Pasta with Lemon and Ricotta
- 1 lb farfalle
- 1 cup reserved pasta water
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 cup sugar snap peas (1/4 inch diagonally sliced)
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt (adjust to taste)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan (more for garnish)
- 1 tbsp chopped mint (more for garnish)
- 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper
- 1/8 tsp maldon salt (for finishing)
- Fill a large pasta pot 2/3 of the way with water. After it comes to a boil, add 3 tbsp of salt (the water should taste salty like the sea). Boil the pasta for 1 minute under the al-dente cooking time, since it will cook a bit more off the heat when mixing with the other ingredients.
- While the pasta is boiling, cook the other ingredients. In a dutch oven or large pot, heat up the olive oil until it shimmers. Sautee the minced garlic with a small pinch of kosher salt for 30 seconds on low heat, being careful not to burn it.
- Add in the sugar snap peas and a small pinch of kosher salt and sautee on medium heat for 3 minutes or until it turns bright green. You want the sugar snap peas to stay crunchy and have a snappy bite.
- Take it off the heat. Add the farfelle and parmesan. Pour in 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water at a time and give it a good mix to meld everything together. At this point, add more pasta water if it is too dry. There should be a little bit of pasta water swishing around the bottom of the pan. Add the chopped mint and salt and pepper to taste.
- Add a few dallops of whole milk ricotta. Finish with more grated parmesan, lemon zest, and a bit of chopped mint. Sprinkle on some Maldon salt and freshly cracked pepper. Bon Appetit!