The Tasteful Garden: How to grow and cook what you love to eat

The Tasteful Garden: You can grow pea shoots in sunny window

March 15, 2013 

Pea shoots can be grown indoors year-round.

COURTESY OF CAROL STEIN

Carol Stein grows it

If you’re craving green spring peas as winter ends, you can get their flavor with pea shoots, which can be grown indoors year-round.

Seeds for sugar snap or snow peas are often recommended for growing shoots, but the easy-to-find Green Arrow garden pea seeds have a high germination rate, and sometimes twin vines emerge from a single seed.

To start, seal dried pea seeds in a plastic bag along with a moist paper towel. Let the bag sit away from direct sun. In two to three days, the seeds will produce small white roots.

Carefully remove the sprouted seeds from the bag, so as not to snap off the fragile roots. Plant them one inch deep and two inches apart in containers of fresh soilless potting mix. An 8-inch pot holds a dozen seeds.

Water well and place in a cool, shaded spot indoors until sprouts appear. Then move the containers to a sunny window, or outdoors to a sheltered area with afternoon shade. Keep the potting mix consistently moist but never soggy.

When the pea shoots are 4 inches high, harvest only the top set of leaves and the tendrils above them. Clip the stem just above the next lower set of leaves. If you don’t clip the whole plant, the vines will branch and foliage will increase to allow a continuous harvest. Flower buds or flowers are also edible.

If the leaves yellow, add a granular, slow-release fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen. Follow package directions for the correct amount.

Debbie Moose cooks it

My husband and I frequent a small Chinese restaurant where we are often the only non-Asian diners. We have become addicted to a dish called “Pea Tips with Garlic.” It’s a pile of tender-crunchy greens with a sweet, mild flavor, along with plenty of garlic.

We wondered what the greens were until I discovered that they are exactly as the name says: The leaves and shoots of the pea plants that give us green spring peas. And that was a surprise to my husband, who can’t stand peas.

They also have lots of nutrients – especially vitamins C and K. Because they can be grown indoors, they’re available at good quality year round, although some Chinese cooks prefer field-grown pea tips, which would be available only in the spring.

Look for them at Asian markets. They may be called pea shoots, pea tips, pea greens or, in Chinese, dau miu. Pea sprouts are also available, but they are smaller, like bean sprouts – not what you’re looking for in this case.

Select shoots that are bright green and crisp with no yellow leaves. They should have small leaves and tender stems. Store these delicate greens in the refrigerator, wrapped in a paper towel and placed in a plastic bag, for no more than two days before eating them. Like other greens, they should be washed just before using and dried in a salad spinner to remove as much water as possible before cooking.

Pea shoots can be used raw in salads, as you would baby spinach. But that simple stir-fry of the shoots is so good, I wanted to make a version at home.

Reach Carol Stein and Debbie Moose at tastefulgarden@hotmail.com.

For a printable copy of the recipe, click the link:

Stir-Fried Pea Shoots with Garlic

Stir-Fried Pea Shoots with Garlic As with most stir-fries, you can adapt this recipe to your taste. Add more garlic, or substitute water for the chicken broth for a vegetarian dish. This dish cooks quickly, so have all the ingredients at hand and ready to go when you begin. ¼ cup vegetable oil 1 ½ pounds pea shoots, washed and dried 1/3 cup chicken broth 2 tablespoons chopped garlic 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger ½ teaspoon sugar ½ teaspoon salt or to taste

PLACE a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat and heat until so hot that a drop of water vaporizes on contact. Heat is crucial to good stir-frying. Add the oil, then the pea shoots. Toss and cook just until the pea shoots begin to wilt, 2 or 3 minutes, depending on how hot your pan is.

ADD the chicken broth, garlic, ginger, sugar and salt. Stir and cook another minute or so. Do not let the garlic brown; adjust heat if necessary. The shoots should be bright green and still have a slightly crunchy texture. Do not overcook. Remove from the heat and serve. YIELD: 4 servings

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