Ina Garten’s Easiest Side Dish Was a Best Seller at Her Barefoot Contessa Store

Ina Garten had plenty of best sellers at her Barefoot Contessa store back in the day but one of the most popular was an easy side dish with just three ingredients. She created the recipe after a produce shipment mistake.

Ina Garten wears a bright blue shirt and cooks with Stephen Colbert who is seen drizzling oil
Ina Garten | Scott Kowalchyk/CBS via Getty Images

Ina Garten discovered the side dish recipe by mistake

Garten’s recipe for sugar snap peas with sesame was once featured on the Martha Stewart website, which noted, “This is one of Ina Garten’s best sellers at her Barefoot Contessa gourmet food store in East Hampton, New York.”

Garten’s book The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook promised “secrets” from her specialty food store and featured the sugar snap peas recipe’s origins.

The Barefoot Contessa star’s easy side dish was the result of a mistake but it turned out to be a huge success. “Sometimes a mistake turns out to be a blessing,” she wrote in the introduction to the recipe.

Garten continued, “Years ago, I ordered snow peas from my produce supplier, who accidentally sent sugar snap peas, which were new on the market.  While I was on the phone telling the supplier to pick them up, I tasted one.”

One taste was all it took for Garten to give the vegetable a try in her store. “They were delicious!” she recalled. “So, on the spot, I asked the cooks to add sesame oil and black sesame seeds, to see if customers would like them.”

The side dish was a hit with customers. “An hour later, I called the supplier back and ordered 100 pounds for the next day. Fifteen years later, this is still one of our best sellers,” Garten wrote in the book. “And nothing could be easier to make at home.”

How to make Ina Garten’s easy sugar snap peas and sesame recipe

In Garten’s cookbook, the recipe doesn’t involve cooking the peas. She trims the stem and string from each pod and tosses them in a bowl with sesame oil and sesame seeds.

Her recipe on the Food Network website recommends the addition of kosher salt, to taste, and also shares a quick cooking technique if the raw peas “are too tough to eat.”

She demonstrated how to make the “simplest sugar snap pea salad you’ve ever seen” on an episode of Barefoot Contessa. Garten had friends staying at her home for the weekend so of course, she delighted them with her homemade recipes, which included the snap peas and sesame side dish.

She recommends quickly blanching the vegetables

On the episode, Garten said she was “going to make the easiest thing you can possibly imagine, so pay attention.”

She continued, “Sugar snap peas, which I love. And what I did was take the end off and peel the string down and then blanch them, which is putting them in boiling water for about a minute and then taking them out and putting them in cold water.”

The “sauce” for the vegetables is so simple — a combination of sesame oil and black sesame seeds. “This is Asian sesame oil so it smells like sesame seeds — it’s not that clear flavorless sesame oil,” Garten explained. “And black sesame seeds, which you can find in the Asian section of the grocery store.”

She added, “And you toss them together, maybe with a little salt. And that’s it — it’s done. And they’re just delicious.”

The full recipe is available on the Food Network website.

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