One of the most compelling reasons to grow a garden is that you get to experience foods that are not sold in stores. Sometimes these unique offerings come in the form of heirloom varieties from all over the globe and other times, they are simply different parts of a plant from different stages of its development. It wasn’t until I started gardening that I found out about eating garlic scapes, turnip and radish greens, and pea shoots.
Grocery stores sell produce only in the forms that are most marketable, easily transportable, and least perishable. What a shame! There is a whole world of great eating out there just waiting to be discovered. Pea shoots make a tasty salad green that tides me over until mature peas start coming in.
This year, I dedicated half of one of my raised beds to growing pea shoots to harvest just for salads, but you don’t need a big garden to enjoy this spring treat. Pea shoots are so easy to grow in a container on your patio and they take almost no time (especially if you pre-sprout the seeds) at all because you’re not waiting for the plant to mature. Plant them thickly and simply snip off sections of the tender shoots as you need them. If you aren’t growing pea shoots, look for them at your local farmers’ market.
My typical way to enjoy fresh pea shoots is drizzled with lemon and showered with freshly grated Parmesan but I just discovered my new favorite pea shoot salad. This recipe is adapted from Merrill Stubbs’ recipe on Food52. Pea shoots are combined with zesty arugula and then lightly dressed with a very mild, light dressing that allows the flavor of the greens to steal the show.
Some days, an enormous bowl of this pea shoot salad is all I need for a spring lunch. For smaller portions, mix up a batch of dressing and then just combine the desired amounts of greens in equal proportions and dress lightly to taste.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
Grated zest and juice of one lemon
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. raw honey
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
6 Tbsp. neutral-flavored oil (I used grapeseed)
Whisk together all dressing ingredients except the oil. Then, while whisking, slowly drizzle in the oil and continue whisking to emulsify and thoroughly blend.
4 generous cups fresh pea shoots and tendrils
4 generous cups fresh arugula
Combine the greens in a large bowl. Drizzle on a small amount of dressing and toss well, adjusting the amount of dressing to suit your taste. With this salad, I usually dress lightly because the flavor of the greens will get lost in too much dressing.