You ought to run down to the St. Paul Farmer’s Market (already full of asparagus, greens, flowers, eggs, chicken, smoked trout, etc.) this week while the pea shoots are fresh, green and ready for the quick picking. Very quick, indeed, as our local farmers already picked them for you. If you don’t know from pea shoots, it’s a lovely time to learn about them and make a Pea Shoot Salad. These tasty greens are the leaves and tendrils of the pea plants, harvested young and tender. They’re ready for salad or a quick saute–much in the same way you’d use baby spinach. Alone or mixed with other greens (watercress, onion chives, and bibb lettuce are in, too) and a few tasty tidbits (think blue cheese), they make a first class salad full of inexpensive nutrition. $2 for a big bunch of bright bushy greens just out of the dirt called me right out loud.
While saying, “Gee, I don’t know about these,” go ahead and pick up a bunch. I’ll bet the farmer would even let you take a taste right there if you asked. Great for warm weather meals or after a busy day, this salad will be a staple in your spring menus from now on. Ah, shoot; go ahead and make it. If you bought a little smoked trout, have that with a bite of bread and a bit of hot mustard to start. The salad will proudly round out and complete that fine meal.
If you’d like a glass of wine with this meal, think pink. A dry rose from France or Oregon would be a perfect match. Stop in The Wine Thief and The Ale Jail (just east of Fairview on St. Clair on the north side of the street) where they’ve got some pinks that are tres drinkable for less money than you’d think.
Dessert? Lemon ice cream. Hands down. You can make your own or go the easy route and buy Haagen Daz Five Lemon, made from just five ingredients.
Pea Shoot Salad
serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a starter
- 4 oz sliced mushrooms
- 2T chopped onion or garlic chives (or any chives)
- 1 c chopped pea shoots
- 1 c chopped watercress*
- 2 c chopped bibb lettuce
- 2T fresh chiffonade basil (fresh basil sliced very thinly)
- 1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 yellow sweet pepper, diced
- 1 c cherry tomatoes or chopped tomatoes
- 4 scallions (green onions), minced whites and greens
- 4T crumbled blue cheese
- 1/2 t Dijon-style mustard
- 1T white wine vinegar
- 3T extra virgin olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a small skillet, heat 1T of the olive oil over medium-high heat and add a little freshly ground black pepper. When oil is hot, add mushrooms and cook until light brown on one side. Add chives and stir. Cook another minute or two and set aside while you make the rest of the salad.
Place all vegetables and blue cheese on a large board (you can chop them there first) and make a well in the center of the mixture. In the well, place the mustard, topped by the vinegar and then the oil. Salt and pepper everything. Mix the whole mess lightly with your hands. Taste with your fingers. Season again, if necessary. Place salad in a large bowl and put reserved, cooked mushrooms at center. Serve immediately.
Note: These greens needn’t be terribly cold. Room temperature will be fine, though you can refrigerate them if you like.
*If you don’t like watercress, or it’s unavailable, use another cup of shoots or lettuce.
For more info:
A few more pea shoot recipes
What’s at the St. Paul Farmer’s Market this month (or any month)?
Where’s the free parking for the St. Paul Farmer’s Market downtown?
About The Wine Thief and Ale Jail (1787 St. Clair, St. Paul, MN 55105; 651-698-9463)
Growing greens in Minnesota