Pea greens. PHOTO BY DAVID HAMMOND
Updated: March 7, 2014 1:23PM
“People are always asking me what to do with pea greens,” said Jessica Paarmann, the young woman working the Tree of Life stand at the Oak Park Farmers’ Market, where she sells the bunches of tender leaves and shoots for $4.
Pea greens are usually, but not always, from snow pea plants. They’re full of carotene, an antioxidant, as well as vitamins C and K, good for blood and bones.
Though associated with early spring, there’s no reason why you can’t nurture pea plants throughout the growing season. Tree of Life farmers simply keep cutting them back and harvesting them in even the hottest months. Admittedly, summertime pea greens are not as lush as those grown in early May, but they’re still tasty, with a delicate flavor and crisp crunch.
Pea greens are usually found only at farmers’ markets because they have a very brief shelf life (just a few days), making them unsuitable for most supermarkets. If you do buy them, use them quickly.
I’ve sauteed pea shoots, but Paarmann suggested, “Try them in egg salad. Raw.”
Eating pea greens raw is also advisable because they cook down radically (a fresh bunch can reduce to merely a cup of cooked greens) and when eaten raw, the subtle flavor pops through more clearly.
Egg is an excellent medium for costly ingredients, whether truffles, caviar or pea shoots. My recipe is simple:
1. Chop four hardboiled eggs and mash with 2 tbsps. mayonnaise
2. Chop off bottom two inches of pea greens and cut remainder into ½-inch pieces
3. Mix together, salt/pepper. Serve.