After waiting so patiently for peas to emerge in this cold, wet spring weather, I can’t quite imagine snipping them off for a salad as soon as they’re only a few inches tall. This time of year you can buy pea shoots at the farmers markets and produce stands but you can also grow them in a pot, chia pet style. Densely plant a bunch of dried peas or seeds in potting soil in any container with drainage, put in a sunny spot, water and wait. In a couple of weeks you can have shoots to snip off as you need them. We’ve been buying sunflower sprouts from Alm Hill every week and they use basically the same method – growing them in soil rather than using the more traditional sprouting method of soaking in water. Here are more complete instructions for growing your own pea shoots from Diet Girl.
Whether you grow your own or buy them, pea shoots make a great addition to any spring salad, especially with other tender mixed greens, some soft goat cheese and the simplest of dressings, extra virgin olive oil. You’ll be getting plenty of sweet flavor without waiting for the peapods to form. It’s not as labor intensive as shelling peas but for salads, I trim away the tougher stalks, using only the tips and tendrils. As soon as you pick or buy them, wrap loosely in a paper towel, store in the fridge and use as soon as you can.
This is a lovely mixed greens salad mix I picked up at my favorite produce stand in the Skagit Valley, Mother Flight Farm. Last weekend I was so happy to see that they’re open again for the season.
If you want to saute your shoots, you can get away with using more of the main stalk but I would chop it up in smaller pieces first. Cook them quickly, just enough to let them wilt. I added some to a fried rice dish and they were delicious.
Fried Rice with Egg & Pea Shoots
2 T olive oil
4 cups cooked brown rice
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 t salt
2 t toasted sesame oil
3 sliced scallions
Big bunch of pea shoots
Optional: leftover bbq pork ribs, cut off rib and chopped. Chicken, shrimp or tofu would also be good.
Heat 1 T olive oil a large skillet or wok over high heat. When it’s good and hot, add eggs, tilting pan and swirling to form a very thin layer. You can gently lift and let uncooked egg on top roll under to cook evenly. Cook very quickly for a minute or two, just until solidified. It will look like a crepe.
Remove from heat. Cut egg into uneven strips and remove from pan.
Add second T of olive oil to pan over medium heat. Add garlic and chopped meat. Saute until garlic is lightly cooked, not browned.
Add rice and salt. Stir until rice clumps are broken up and rice is warmed through.
Turn off heat but leave pan on the burner. Add scallions, pea shoots and egg to rice and cover just until the pea shoots are wilted.
Remove lid, stir in sesame oil and serve.
If you want to plant some peas to eat as peas, not just shoots, check out this post. I’ve included some great ideas for trellises too.