Mange tout is also known as sugar peas, sugar snap peas or snow peas. These are 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), these young peas are readily available in markets most of the year, and are easy to grow in the home garden.
Mange tout, and other pea varieties, have been cultivated for centuries. Several of the most popular varieties are the "Snow Queen," the "Climbing Snow Pea," the "Sugarsnap Climbing Pea" and the "Sugarsnap Dwarf."
Mange Tout in the Home Garden
Mange tout grows well in cool, dry sunny climates. They tolerate some cloud and rain, but excessive moisture may cause mildew to form on the leaves. The peas should not be planted in the heat of the summer. Planting should be done in early to mid-spring in zones 2 through 7, early to mid-fall in zones 8 through 10. Mange tout should be planted in a site with full sun, in neutral to alkaline soil. From planting, mange tout will be ready for harvest in about 65 days. As it grows, keep the plants weeded, The plants should be watered at their base and kept moist but not wet. The pods should be harvested before they mature and swell. As more pods are harvested, more will grow.
Preparing Mange Tout
Mange tout is delicious eaten raw, simply blanched (by dropping into hot water for 2 or 3 minutes), steamed, or stir-fried. The pods are best eaten on the day of purchase, but can be kept for a day, refrigerated. To prepare for cooking, cut just the tip from each end of the pod. Wash thoroughly. The pods can be left whole or cut. The pods are suitable for freezing after washing, trimming and being thoroughly dried.
Recipes for Mange Tout
For the simplest preparation, simply cook the pods in a steamer for 5 to 10 minutes or stir-fry until they are tender but still slightly crisp. They can also be boiled in salted water for 2 minutes. Once cooked, they can be eaten as is, or tossed with a bit of olive oil or butter, salt and pepper. For a more elaborate recipe, the pods are delicious when stir-fried as follows: Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a wok. When hot, add ¾ pound of trimmed mange tout. Add 2 green onions (white and green stems), 2 small cloves of garlic, chopped, a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper and 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh mint. Stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes until crisp.
Packed with Nutrition
A good source of dietary fiber, 1/2 cup of mange tout is merely 25 calories, but provides essential nutrients including vitamins C, A, B1 and B2.