Late Spring and early Summer aren't just ripe for freshly shucked pea seeds — they're also a wonderful time to enjoy the sweet flavor of other pea parts, too. While dou miao, as they're known in Mandarin, have always made regular appearances at Chinese and Hmong supermarkets, they're becoming increasingly common at American farmers markets as well.
Two offerings to look out for: the microgreens known as pea shoots (sprouts), or sprouted peas grown in water, characterized by long stems and tiny leaves. Then there are pea tendrils, the young, tender top leaves and tips of a pea plant that's been grown in soil. More on what to do with this delicate plant when you read ahead.
These greens are a pleasant alternative to other dark, leafy greens such as spinach, and have a distinctive pea flavor and none of the bite of other small, leafy greens, such as watercress. Look for tender, small, young growth starting right about now; store them in the refrigerator and use within a couple of days, before leaves wilt or become tough and discolored. To prepare pea shoots or leaves, rinse them carefully in cool water and dry off with a clean towel, removing any that are stringy or off in color.
A few ways to work with both pea shoots and tendrils:
- Toss raw with lemon juice, truffle oil, and other vegetables for a light salad.
- Stir-fry them as the Chinese do with garlic and salt.
- Sauté either tendrils or shoots in a warm, bacony vinaigrette and top with cooked shrimp.
- Blend pea tendrils into a purée and stir into a classic Italian risotto.
- Stir tender, small leaves into a brothy pea shoot and tomato soup.
Have you ever cooked pea shoots or leaves at home? What do you make with them?
Source: Flickr User sleepyneko