Sweet, Sweet Peas
Pea shoots have long been popular in Asian cuisine, but they’re one of the newer fresh offerings showing up at your local farmers markets. Their soft leaves, curly-cue tendrils and tender stems hold the promise of spring peas to come. But even better than that, they hold the flavor of them, too.
One of the reasons they’re so appealing to farmers and eaters is they offer the flavor of the sweet pea but can be harvested in a fraction of the growing time. Home cooks are raving over them (apart from their flavor) because they’re rich in nutrients. Nearly all leafy green vegetables are very nutritious and low in calories, and pea shoots are no exception. They’re a good source of beta carotene, vitamin C, folate, and fiber. They have 7 times more vitamin C than blueberries, eight times more folic acid than bean sprouts, as much as 69% of high quality bioavailable protein and 4 times more Vitamin A than tomatoes. Best of all, help to control your blood sugar levels and reduce food cravings.
But how do you use them in everyday eating?
Turns out, you can very easily just swap them in for any soft, leafy green in a recipe. The stems are edible, and the tendrils are incredibly delicious. It cooks up very similar to baby spinach and is extremely versatile. You can eat pea shoots raw in a fresh salad or inside of a wrap; they can take the place of more traditional lettuce or simply enhance it with spring flavor. You can add them to your stir fry with sesame oil and garlic, as it is done in Asian cooking. They can also brighten up a spring pasta dish, contributing a fresh, sweet taste.
To store pea shoots, there are just a couple of things to know. For the most part, they should be stored in the fridge like you would any other leafy green. While they appear “delicate” these green beauties store very well in the refrigerator. Storage trials done at Greensted have consistently shown pea shoots stay fresh up to three weeks when kept in a covered container with a dampened paper towel in the bottom.
Here’s a fabulous recipe for you to try!
Chinese Stir Fried Pea Shoots Recipe
Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time:10 minutes
The key to this dish is not to let the pea shoots overcook. Once the shoots begin to wilt, it is almost done! The beauty of this dish is the limited ingredients – let the delicate pea shoots flavor be the star.
1 pound pea shoots
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry) – optional
1/2 teaspoon roasted sesame oil
neutral flavored cooking oil (like canola or vegetable oil)
- In a wok or large saute pan, add in the garlic. Pour in about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cooking oil. Turn heat to medium-low and let the garlic heat up slowly, infusing its flavor and fragrance into the cooking oil. Take care not to let the garlic burn – control the heat so that the oil is slightly shimmering and aromatic.
- Turn the heat to high. Add in the pea shoots, you’ll probably have to add them in a couple of batches. Quickly, use your tongs to turn over the pea shoots around in the fragrant oil. Get that garlicky oil all over the shoots!
- Add in the sugar and the salt. Again, use your tongs to flip, stir, turn the pea shoots. Within a minute or so, the shoots will begin wilting and cooking. Once the shoots begin wilting, the dish is almost done. Don’t overcook the delicate shoots. Turn off the heat, pour in the cooking wine and the sesame oil. Toss and serve.
Recipe courtesy of Steamy Kitchen.