Do you know about pea shoots? Once a rarity except in Asian cuisine, they are starting to show up more frequently at American farmers’ markets and in CSA boxes. They are (like their name suggests) the shoots (or vines) of young pea plants—the same exact species that grow the peas we all like to eat. They’re delicious (they taste exactly like peas…seriously, try one!) and they mature to a harvest-ready state in only three to four weeks.
Like full-grown peas (again, they are from the same plant), pea shoots are an attractive crop for farmers because they offer the soil-building service of fixing nitrogen (you can read about that here). Unlike mature peas, pea shoots are ready for harvest after only 3-4 weeks.
Pea shoots are most common at farmers’ markets in early spring, when they’ve been harvested from young sugar snap pea plants. The pea shoots in Family Share boxes this week are from field peas. These peas weren’t grown specifically for harvest, but rather as a cover crop. We are taking advantage of peas’ ability to fix nitrogen and growing them as a sort of organic fertilizer.
By eating pea shoots, you’re supporting farmers in their efforts to build soil health by organic and sustainable means!
But you’re also getting some good food! Pea shoots are tender and succulent and can be subbed in for almost any other green, as long as you’re ready for the pea flavor! Sautee them with garlic and onions and you have yourself an easy side dish.
As a thinner green, pea shoots will be best eaten with a day or two, but they will keep for 5-7 days in a plastic bag in your refrigerator.
Recipes for pea shoots:
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