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Sugar Snap Peas with Fennel and Pine Nuts

A metal wok filled with halved snap peas, sprinkled with fennel, pine nuts, and lemon zest, with a wooden spoon.
Cutting the sugar snap peas in half reduced the cooking time, so the pods retained more of their snap, and as a bonus, the pockets captured the seasonings rather than letting them slide to the bottom of the platter. Sprinkling the snap peas with a dukkah-like mix of finely chopped pine nuts, fennel seeds, and seasonings dressed up this simple preparation with distinct (but not overwhelming) flavor and crunch.
America’s Test Kitchen

Prep 15 mins
Cook 10 mins
Total 25 mins
4 servings
107 kcal


  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts*
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest preferably organic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons mild vegetable oil
  • 12 ounces sugar snap peas strings removed, halved crosswise on bias
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil


  • In a 12-inch (30-cm) skillet over medium heat, toast pine nuts, stirring frequently, until just starting to brown, 1 1/2 to 3 minutes. Add fennel seeds and continue to toast, stirring constantly, until pine nuts are lightly browned and fennel is fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Move the pine nut mixture to the cutting board. Sprinkle lemon zest, salt, and pepper flakes over pine nut mixture. Chop mixture until finely minced and well combined.
  • In the same skillet over medium heat, warm oil until it shimmers. Add snap peas and water, cover immediately and cook for 2 minutes. Uncover, add garlic, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until moisture has evaporated, and snap peas are bright green and crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat, stir in basil and three-quarters of the pine nut mixture. Arrange snap peas on a platter and sprinkle with remaining pine nut mixture. Serve.


*What are pine nuts?

Has it ever occurred to you? What a pine nut truly is? It's actually a seed, found inside those little points on pine cones. Right? It's the nut of the pine tree. That's also why they can be pretty expensive--imagine having to harvest those tiny little seeds from pinecones. And they're typically harvested by hand, making it all the more time consuming. After they've been harvested, the second, inner shell has to be removed as well. What remains are the small, ivory colored, elongated seeds that have a sweet, buttery flavor. They're often toasted to bring out more flavor.