Simple, sauteed pea shoots have turned out to be one of our favorite vegetable side dishes this spring. They almost always land on our table when we see them at dim sum, but we hadn’t really thought about cooking them at home until recently. They are tender and sweet and they cook almost instantly in a hot saute pan. What I like most about them is that they have the softness of sauteed spinach, but the stems have just a bit of bite which makes them a little more interesting to eat. And since my boys already like peas, eating another part of the plant has been kind of a fun discovery for them. What would even be more fun is getting some peas going in our garden and then harvesting both the young shoots and the pods for a real garden to table experience. There you go — another thing to add to our to do list.
While not available in most supermarkets as far as I can tell, you will probably find an abundance of pea shoots seasonally at your local farmer’s market or most well-stocked Asian markets. This is truly a lovely taste of spring.
Simple Garlicky Sauteed Pea Shoots
- Wash pea shoots well and drain. Discard any shoots that look wilted or have larger, tougher stems. Roughly chop the pea shoots (about 2″ intervals is fine, but the size is not fussy ). Keep in mind that the shoots shrink considerably as they cook, they are roughly half to a third of the volume after cooking.
- Peel 2 garlic cloves. Crush them but leave them whole.
- Heat up a saute pan with 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil. When the pan is hot, add the crushed garlic cloves and saute them for 2 minutes until they become fragrant and start to turn golden.
- Toss in your washed, chopped pea shoots. Be careful since any remaining water clinging to the pea shoots may spatter when you add them to a hot pan. Saute until pea shoots are wilted (about 2-3 minutes). Sprinkle with sea salt to taste and serve.
You might also like these simple and delicious veggie sides: Mythili’s Edamame with Coconut, Cumin and Chilli, Simplest Snap Peas, Carrot Raita, Indian Spiced Spinach, Bakesale Betty’s Killer Mayo-Free Coleslaw
We love the Charlie and Lola book series. One of our favorites is “I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato” (the pop-up version!) in which Charlie tries to coax his little sister into eating her dinner using some creative packaging. Carrots are orange twiglets from Jupiter, mashed potato is cloud fluff from the pointiest peak of Mount Fuji, fish sticks are ocean nibbles, peas are green drops from Greenland and tomatoes are moon squirters. [You can watch the animated version here]
So when we threw together a quickie dinner of peas, carrots and fish — I had that feeling of deja vu. Luca got the reference right away, reciting lines from the book and digging into his dinner with unusual gusto. Usually when Luca has peas for dinner, they have a bad habit of rolling out of his mouth before he can actually eat them (strangely he does not have this problem with grapes or raspberries!). But as for the official Charlie and Lola “Green Drops from Greenland”… well, they cooperated quite nicely. It’s nice to see peas and carrots getting the benefit of a little PR. Good work Charlie and Lola!
By the way, we have been collecting a list of our favorite kids’ books about food which you can find here…. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, take a look and share your favorites. Would love to hear about great foodie books for older kids too. Happy reading!
The crazier life gets, the more I am won over by the versatility and ease of risotto. It’s serious comfort food, endlessly adaptable and an old standby that can be pulled together last minute with ingredients I almost always have in my pantry (arborio rice, chicken stock, an onion, a hunk of parmegiano reggiano) and jazzed up with a few bits of whatever else is around. While stove-side stirring is required, it somehow feels less stressful than recipes that require a lot of chopping or ingredients…. or thinking!
Before I get to some notes on risotto, here are three of our favorite variations:
- Lemon Zest, Lemon Juice, Peas — Some Diced Roast Chicken or Sauteed Shrimp Would Be Nice!
- Crumbled Sausage; a Can of Crushed Tomatoes Mixed with Broth for the Cooking Liquid; Fresh Spinach for Garnish (chiffonade)
- Roasted Garlic; Toasted Sliced Almonds & a Dollop of Mascarpone (gotta give credit to Jamie Oliver for this one. Here’s his recipe)
Stacie’s Risotto Crib Sheet:
- Bring your stock to a simmer (you’ll need ~2.5 cups for every cup of uncooked arborio rice). [Since I had some asparagus I wanted to use up, I just trimmed it and blanched it right in the stock for 2-3 minutes until tender crisp, then set it aside.]
- Saute some finely diced onion and celery in olive oil until softened. Add the uncooked arborio rice to the pan and saute for several minutes until it starts looking less chalky and more translucent.
- If you have some available, add a splash of white wine (1/2 cup or so) and let it completely absorb before starting to add the stock (if you don’t have any, you can skip it without sacrificing too much). Then, start adding the warm stock one ladle at a time, stirring until the liquid is completely absorbed between each addition. My Italian cooking guru Marcella Hazan says to start checking the rice for done-ness after about 20 minutes.
- When you’re getting close to your preferred done-ness, add your goodies [in this case the zest of 1 lemon and the juice of 1.5 lemons, a handful of frozen peas which I didn’t bother defrosting].
- Off heat stir in a generous amount of grated parmeggiano and a little pat of butter if it strikes your fancy. Taste taste taste and correct your seasonings. [I scattered my blanched asparagus on top. For a little zip, I also garnished with some finely chopped chives, crispy fried sage leaves (nice for texture and takes the intensity way down), a little squeeze of lemon and drizzle of good olive oil.]
Unfortunately, my little one objects to most green foods lately and picked around the peas & asparagus with determination– even after we made happy face bites on our forks — but my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this dinner of creamy, lemony, comfort food yumminess which we enjoyed with some crispy fish fillets and sauteed asparagus. Yum yum good!