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
Here’s the second recipe from our Japanese curry bento: salty-sweet-sticky glazed pumpkin with toasted sesame seeds. This is a super comforting side dish and a total snap to make, requiring only 3 ingredients in addition to the pumpkin itself. It’s quick braised in the glaze on the stove top which I think is a total genius move since I’m used to thinking that anytime I cook fresh pumpkin, I’m going to need to turn on the oven….. and wait.
If the word succotash makes you think of a limp and lifeless lump of cooked to death vegetables, this could not be farther from that notion. Think instead…. a big bowl of bright, fresh, sweet summer vegetables tumbled onto creamy, creamy polenta. Are you with me? I don’t always think of making polenta this time of year, but it turns out that it’s the perfect canvas for a basket of gorgeous summer vegetables. I think this is absolutely fantastic as is, but you can easily turn this into a more substantial meal for brunch, lunch or dinner by adding a poached egg, a piece of grilled chicken or fish or even a broiled sausage. The soft and creamy polenta is ideal for little teethers and older kids can help you pick out the vegetables, snap green beans and shell fresh peas if you’re using them.
For the succotash, use any combo of vegetables you like but definitely include shallots, corn, tomatoes and green beans. We like to add fresh english peas and fava beans when we can find them. Favas take a little extra work (shelling the beans, then blanching them in salted water for 30 seconds and removing their tough skins) but are definitely worth the extra trouble. You could certainly add sliced zucchini and finely chopped herbs (basil, parsley, thyme) would be lovely too.
For the polenta, I like to use Marcella Hazan’s no stir polenta method. Be sure to stir in a little butter and a whole lot of grated parmesan cheese. Your polenta will stay creamy as long as you keep it warm, but the leftovers are worth spending a few minutes on. Turn leftovers into a baking dish or cookie sheet. When it cools it will set and you can cut it into squares which you can grill or fry or simply reheat. The squares wont be creamy like just made polenta but are still delicious and great with any saucy Italian recipe. You can wrap the squares in parchment paper and freeze them to enjoy later.
- Cook your polenta using Marcella Hazan’s “no stir” method. It will take about 45 minutes in all, but only a minute of stirring every 10 minutes. When the polenta is cooked, stir in butter and grated parmesan cheese to taste and keep warm.
- Prep all your vegetables: finely mince shallots, trim green beans (I like 1″ pieces sliced on the diagonal), halve cherry tomatoes, cut corn off the cob. I like to cut my corn on top of a cookie sheet to catch all the juices and stray kernels that try to get away. When all the corn has been cut off, run the back of your knife along the cob to release the “corn milk” which you can cook along with your kernels.
- Sprinkle the shallots with a few pinches of salt and saute in oilve oil until softened. Add the green beans and cook until tender crisp, about 3-5 minutes. Add the corn kernels and their juices and cook 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for another minute just to heat through. Add a tiny splash of red wine vinegar and stir. Taste and correct seasoning, adding a little more salt or vinegar if needed.
- Spoon the succotash over polenta and sprinkle with fresh herbs of your choice.
You might also like these summery faves: summer corn and lobster ravioli in a light corn broth; Easy Summer Fruit Cobbler; Tomato Water Pasta; Summer Obsession: Roasted Sweet Peppers; Summer Ratatouille
Spring has sprung and with it we are diving into our favorite vegetable of the moment, the noble and delicious artichoke. When I eat artichokes, I often find myself daydreaming about vacations in Rome, foggy drives through coastal artichoke fields in Monterey, and the incredible crispy “Carciofi Alla Judea” at Locanda Osteria in the mission — the stuff foodie dreams are made of. My family’s very favorite simple preparation, “Ali’s Artichokes”, is pretty dreamy in its own right. I think my boys mostly love artichokes because they are fun to eat and I suppose that’s just fine too. Happy Spring!
The noble and delicious artichoke.
"Ali's artichokes" our favorite way to eat them.
"Artichoke Friend" (with his pal the carrot), by Luca
We're waiting for Sherm, mascot of our garden, to start producing!
My cousin Ali, a master of the grill, taught me to make artichokes this way. That little bit of crispness and char make them especially delicious.
- Start your steamer and have it hot and ready to go because artichokes start to discolor the moment you cut them.
- While your steamer is getting hot, trim your artichokes. Here’s a great video by Chef Ian Knauer (below). If you’re planning to trim them ahead, toss them in a bowl of water to which you have added a generous squeeze of lemon to keep them from discoloring. ** For this preparation, we like our artichokes trimmed and cut in half. We don’t bother removing the chokes, because they’re easier to scoop out after steaming. **
- Steam until just tender. I steam them for 20 minutes and then start checking them every 5-10 minutes. Once tender, I let them cool a bit until they’re cool enough to handle. I scoop out the choke with a spoon and then “marinate” them in olive oil and sea salt. You can grill them right away or leave them covered in the refrigerator overnight.
- Before serving, give them 5 minutes on a grill or under the broiler to crisp them and give them a bit of char.
I love recipes that get me thinking of flavor combinations I’ve never tried. Turns out coconut, cumin and ginger go great together. Edamame are so healthy and snack-licious that it’s always great to have new ways to prepare them. And I think these flavors would be very nice on, say, green beans, too. I see lots of opportunity to play with the flavors to suit your taste (and that of your young ones). If your kids are sensitive to bold flavors you could certainly go light on the cumin and omit the chili altogether. I know my husband would love this loaded up with chili.
Many, many thanks to Sapna and her mom Mythili for sharing some home-cooking love with this recipe. It’s quite special to cook a recipe direct from someone’s mom vs. out of a cookbook. As I was making these for my family, I got to thinking about the many different forms that comfort food can take. My most cherished childhood food memories include everything from fried rice, to jook, steamed fish, christmas toffee, and blackberry pie. I can’t wait to teach my son all these…. and maybe one day, once he’s through this frustratingly picky phase, he’ll actually love them as much as I do!
Mythili’s Edamame with Cumin & Coconut
Simran suggests trying this as a side dish to curry.
- Shelled Edamame (1 cup)
- Grated Coconut (About 2 TBL)
- Jeera (Cumin Seeds, to taste)
- 1 Minced Green Chili (optional)
- Minced Onion (optional)
- Small Piece of Grated Ginger
- Squeeze of Lemon Juice
- Add 1 spoon of butter or olive oil to pan.
- Saute cumin seed (all I had was gound, seeds would be better!) and minced chili for one minute. Add minced onion and saute three minutes.
- Add edamame and saute five minutes.
- Add grated coconut and fry one minute before taking the pan off the heat.
- Off heat, season with salt to taste and a squeeze of lemon juice.