It’s April and it’s time to discuss our next in-season vegetable: Pea Shoots in Massachusetts! That’s right- you can eat those springy green curlicues on the stem of a pea plant.
Sound strange? Well, it’s time to try something new! (Don’t live in Massachusetts? Check out our post “Spring Forward: Eating Fruits and Veggies in Season” to find out what’s in season in your state.) There are actually a whole variety of plant shoots that are deliciously edible: asparagus, sweet potato vine, ostrich fern fiddleheads and bamboo are only a few examples.
What should you know about pea shoots (also known as pea tendrils and pea greens)? They’re a traditional ingredient found in several Asian cuisines; you may have come across them in spring rolls or placed on top of soup. Pea shoots are comprised of both the leaves and the tendrils of a pea plant. According to the International Sprout Growers Association, one serving of pea shoots (1 cup or 99 grams) provides 3 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of protein, 50% of your daily value of Vitamin C and only 40 calories. Find them at your local Massachusetts farmers market- not only are they becoming a popular product to grow and sell, but they stay fresher at a farmers market than the supermarket– by using this interactive map. From experience, I can tell you that one cup of pea shoots cooks down as quickly as any other green- you need plenty to make an ample serving, so make sure to buy at least two bunches!
My favorite way to prepare pea shoots is exactly how I learned this summer, following a recipe in the Flats Mentor Farm’s online recipe book. Check it out below along with a blurb on the plant’s origin and history!