This recipe features pea shoots, the young leaves and tendrils of pea plants. They have a sweet taste, about the same flavor of a pea pod. Like microgreens, pea shoots are small, about 1 to 2 inches long, tender and delicate.
When buying, look for shoots that are bright green with no signs of yellowing or wilting. Although delicate, these shoots will keep up to one week in the refrigerator. But use them within 3-4 days for best quality. Before using, always rinse pea shoots gently under cool water and pat them dry.
I like to use them raw in salads mixed with other tender greens. You also can use them in stir-fries, stirred into soups and mixed in with pasta or Asian noodles. Pea shoots are pretty, too, and make a lovely garnish.
Here are a couple more pea shoot ideas.
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Sesame pea shoot salad: Have ready boiling salted water. Add 1 cup trimmed sugar snap peas and cook 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup snow peas and 1/2 cup thawed frozen green peas and cook 1 minute. Drain, rinse with cold water and pat dry. Whisk together 1 tablespoon each rice vinegar and toasted sesame oil, 2 teaspoons lightly toasted sesame seeds, 1/2 to 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar, 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce. Place 6 cups pea shoots, well-washed and spun-dry, in a large bowl. Pour dressing over; toss to coat.
Pea shoot salad with bacon and shiitakes: Cut 1/4-pound piece of smoked slab bacon into 3/4-inch-thick matchsticks. Cook in a skillet over low heat, stirring, until crisp but still chewy, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove to paper towels to drain. Pour off fat from skillet and add 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, 3/ 4 pound quartered shiitake mushroom caps and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden, about 8 minutes. Cool. In a large salad bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 tablespoon red-wine vinegar, 1/2 tablespoon coarse-grain mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add 4 cups pea shoots and 4 cups baby spinach to the dressing and toss to coat. Add cooked bacon and mushrooms, 1 bunch chives cut into 1-inch lengths and 6 radishes cut into matchsticks. Toss again and serve.
Stir-fried pea shoots with garlic and ginger
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Adapted from several recipes. Tested by Susan Selasky of the Detroit Free Press Test Kitchen.
1/2 pound pea shoots or sunflower shoots
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or to taste
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
Steamed rice or noodles for serving, optional
Rinse the pea shoots well in water and spin dry in a salad spinner or pat dry.
Heat wok over medium-high heat. Add the oil. Add the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 20-30 seconds. Add pea shoots, stirring them constantly until they just begin to wilt.
Add the soy sauce and cover the wok. Reduce heat to low and cook about 2 minutes. The pea shoots should still have a light crunch to them. Serve immediately as a side dish or serve over rice or noodles.
Per serving: 62 calories (45 percent from fat), 3 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 7 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 267 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber.