Pea shoots are an often over-looked garden good. They have a delicious, mild pea flavor with just the right amount of crunch. Pea shoots may strike you as a spring crop, and indeed, they may be if you have plenty of space and are not concerned about limiting your pea production. For me, peas planted for pea shoots are a second crop of the season. After my first crop of beets, carrots or broccoli has been removed from the garden. I plant them there because nitrogen-fixing bacteria, which replenish the soil, associate with the roots of pea plants and I like to spread these helpful little microbes around the garden.
In many northern climates, if you are planting a second crop of peas mid-summer, the growing season won’t be long enough to yield mature peas but pea shoots are a great thing to grow if you want something fresh to eat and are not big on delayed gratification.
How to Harvest Pea Shoots
Pea shoots are best picked from younger plants. The shoots of mature pea plants can be tough. To harvest pea shoots snip off the last 4-6 inches of the shoot. Use them in salads or toss them with warm pasta, or in the soup recipe below. Be sure to just barely cook them, if at all, or you will lose flavor and texture.
This is a nice, light summer soup that takes no more than 10 minutes to make.
Recipe for Pea Shoot & Tomato Soup Serves 4.
In a medium pot bring to a boil:
3 c. vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 tsp. 5-spice (optional)
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. white wine
2 c. tomatoes, chopped and seeded
1/2 c. fresh or frozen peas (optional)
After soup has begun to boil, remove from heat and add:
1 handful pea shoots
2 3-finger pinches of mint, chiffonaded
1 3-finger pinch of basil, chiffonaded
Salt & pepper to taste.