Snap Peas with Soffrito and Mint

Sugar Snap Peas with Soffrito and Mint

I can be particularly particular about particulars. Which can be particularly annoying. Especially in the kitchen. I’m working on these particular issues. But it’s not going particularly well. Take custard. Custard has a basic ratio: 3 eggs to every 2 cups of fatty liquid. It just does. But lots of cooks make custard using a different ratio, and sometimes they even call it by a different name – like flan. How is that possible? In my kitchen many of my favorite dishes have humble beginnings using a classic French technique known as mirepoix. But some cooks see this same pan of sauteed vegetables and say soffrito. How is this possible?

From France’s mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery) to Germany’s Suppengrün (leek, carrot, celeriac) to the Holy Trinity of Cajun cooking (onion, celery, green bell pepper), almost every cook in every culture starts with a simple, but balanced base of aromatic vegetables. To Mediterranean cooks soffrito is an onion-based building block. It can add an amazing amount of depth to a dish clandestinely.

In my particular way of looking at things a true soffrito is not easy to make. It takes hours and hours. You start by gently simmering onions and possibly carrots in oil. The vegetables stew at a very low temp for 2 or 3 hours until they release their cloudy liquid and begin caramelize. They come out a deeply intense caramel color and smell like heaven. But you can’t rush it. If there is much more than a few bubbles around the rim of your pan then your oil is too hot. Pureed tomatoes are added to the caramelized vegetables and the whole thing cooks another 2 or 3 hours. At which point the vegetable solids begin to fry and separate themselves from the oil. The cook strains the vegetables from the oil. The vegetables are the soffrito and the oil is liquid gold.

Needless to say it’s a rare day that a true soffrito comes out of my kitchen.

Snap Peas with Soffrito

So when I saw this recipe for Sugar Snap Peas with Soffrito, Hot Pepper and Mint from Gjelina chef Travis Lett, I thought to myself – that’s not a soffrito that’s a mirepoix. Which just goes to prove how little progress I’m making with my particular problem. GREG

sugar snap peasDiced Vegetables

Snap Peas with Sofrito and Mint

Sugar Snap Peas with Soffrito, Hot Pepper and Mint 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 8Source Chef Travis LettPublished
Sugar Snap Peas with Soffrito, Hot Pepper and Mint


  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots (finely chopped)
  • 2 medium celery ribs (finely chopped)
  • 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
  • ½ medium red bell pepper (finely chopped)
  • 1 ½ pound sugar snap peas (halved crosswise)
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ½ cup torn mint leaves
  • sea salt


In a medium skillet, heat ¼ cup of the olive oil. Add the carrots, celery, onion and bell pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the soffrito is tender and lightly browned, about 8 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Add the snap peas and cook over high heat just until they are bright green, about 2 minutes. Add the soffrito and cook until the snap peas are lightly browned in spots, about 2 minutes. Add the crushed red pepper and ¼ cup of water and cook until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes longer. Add the torn mint and season with salt. Serve hot or at room temperature.