Who knew the tips of pea vines (pea shoots) are not only edible, but very tasty?
I like the flavor of peas... but not so much the texture, so I don't grow peas. A vendor at the farmer's market last week had a basketful, and when I inquired what they were, she told me and offered a taste. A taste of just one sold me! They are slightly crunchy, and taste like fresh peas right off the vine but with a more delicate flavor! I got a big handful to add to fresh salads.
I should have asked what kind of pea plant they came from. The tendrils of any edible pea can be harvested for shoots, and apparently those from snow peas and sugar snaps make excellent shoots. NOTE: the shoots of ornamental flowering sweet peas are poisonous!
"The University of Washington calls pea shoots a "nutrient-dense" green and says that for 10 calories from 2 cups of pea shoots, your RDA gets 35% of its vitamin C, 15% of its vitamin A, 132% of its vitamin K, and 10% of its folate. So, 2 cups of pea shoots sounds like a lot, but I can assure you that if you decide to cook them you will get about 2 tablespoons of cooked (delicious!) greens." (Source)
Fresh pea shoots are also a good source of vitamin E, folate, thiamine, riboflavin and vitamin B6, with all the beneficial fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants of many leafy greens. Harvest the pea shoots when they are anywhere from 3" to 7" long. If you leave the lowest set of leaves on the plant (3-4" above the ground), you can get a succession of shoots.
If you usually grow peas and save seeds, you know pea seeds are easy to save but have poor germination rates if kept too long. Here's a great suggestion. Grub out a small area in the garden (even just one square foot will do) and plant it heavily with your old pea seeds. You'll have enough germinate to harvest pea shoots in 2-4 weeks. When there are no more growing to cut (or getting tough rather than tender), dig the spent plants into the ground where they will supply nutrients for other plants.
If you have a long planter box that will fit on a cool windowsill inside the house, you can grow pea shoots in winter! (Peas are a cool weather crop and may not do well in a very warm house.)
|Pea Shoot, Radish and Apple Salad|
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Kohlrabi Slivers and Pea Shoots with Sesame Dressing
Pea Shoot and Spinach Salad with Bacon and Shiitakes