Once spring hits, there are a few vegetables that aways take center stage. Asparagus jumps front and center, along with fava beans, ramps, and radishes. But there's one little green vegetable that often gets left behind.
What Are Pea Shoots?
I am talking about pea shoots. Made up of tender stems, small green leaves, and curly tendrils, pea shoots literally shoot right up out of the soil and off a pea plant before any pods are formed. They're most often collected from snow or sugar snap pea plants, but can also be collected from English pea plants. Pea shoots are exceptionally delicate and taste much like the peas themselves: sweet, fresh, and green.
Buying and Storing Pea Shoots
Pea shoot season is short, as they are best before the peas fully mature. Look out for them at your local farmers market or specialty grocery store. Year-round you can find them in most Asian grocery stores.
Since they are so tender, they should be used quickly, within a day or so. Store them loosely wrapped in a paper towel in an open plastic bag in your crisper drawer and wash them as needed.
How to Use Your Pea Shoots
- Fresh: Maintain their delicate flavor by enjoying them fresh and uncooked. Toss them in salads, tuck them into sandwiches, sprinkle a handful over scrambled eggs, wrap them around prosciutto for an easy appetizer, or use them as a garnish to brighten any spring dish.
- Cooked: Cooking pea shoots helps bring out their pea-like flavor. However, since they're such a soft, leafy green, you don't want to overcook them. Instead, quickly sauté pea shoots with olive oil and garlic for a simple side dish. Toss them into a stir-fry just before you're about to take it off the stove, add them to the pan when making a springtime pasta, or sauté them on their own and add them to roasted potatoes.