IN SEASON: Pea vines / pea shoots

Are you getting fatigued from all of the uncommon spring vegetables yet? Sometimes it feels like there’s a steep learning curve with some of the vegetable offerings that you may find at farmers markets or receive in your CSA box this time of year.

Here’s another one to toss at you, which looks to be arriving in the Harmony Valley Farm CSA box this week – pea vine (aka pea shoots).

Pea vines are the top growth of a pea plant (I bet you didn’t know you could cook and eat that, did you? We’re eating everything that’s green this year, my friends.)

Pea vine has a delicate fresh pea flavor and is often used in salads, sandwiches and stir fries; Chinese and Vietnamese dishes in particular. This is a way to experience fresh pea flavor weeks before the peas themselves are ready for harvesting.

You can eat the whole plant – leaves, tendrils and stems and all. The stems may be a little tough on older, larger plants, so you may wish to cut off the bottom 1-2 inches.

More information about pea vine can be found here.

When we received pea vine last year, I didn’t quite know what to do with it and in the tumult of processing the rest of the box ingredients, I forgot about the pea vine and it went bad in the fridge. Shame on Amy!

So, word to the wise, you should prepare this within the first 2-3 days of getting it.

Here are some recipes I found strolling on the web this week.
Sauteed Pea Vines
Stir Fried Pea Shoots
Sesame Pea Shoot Salad
Pea Vine Stir Fry with tofu, peppers, zucchini and spring onions
Pea Salad with Radishes and Feta Cheese
Soba with Pea Shoots, Shitake Mushrooms and Leeks – this page also has recipes for Asparagus Risotto with Pea Shoots and Parmesan, and Warm Crab Salad with Pea Shoots, and Mussels Steamed in Pernod with Pea Vines and Lavender (!)

If you develop a liking for pea shoots and can’t get enough of them, you can find them at Asian supermarkets or area farmers markets with Asian vendors. I bought the pictured greens this week at Shuang Hur, an Asian supermarket on University Avenue in St. Paul. They were labeled as “pea tips”.

For those of you who’ve prepared pea vine in the past, what’s your favorite use for them?

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