Despite a harsh winter on the East Coast, where I’m from, spring has finally prevailed. That means it is gardening time!
While the weather is still mostly cool, it is a great time to get in those cool hardy veg like spinach, broccoli, cabbage and peas. They can handle the cool nights and thrive in the gentle spring sun. Of these vegetables, one stands out as a favorite here- peas! Now I will tell you a secret… I don’t actually like peas.
As a child I would stare at those awful green balls on my plate with dread. My parents rule was that I had to eat at least most of what was on my plate and peas were no exception. I would sit there until they were cold and even worse tasting. I think I was hoping they’d disappear. My mom came up with a little trick where she’d tell me I only had to eat X amount of “bites” and then I could leave the table. The trick was that the number always seemed manageable (3-4) but somehow those few bites would leave only a few stray peas behind. And that was my relationship with peas for years.
Somewhere in my 20’s I discovered I liked snap peas and snow peas- you know, the ones in the pod. I also met my husband. He likes all the vegetables (ok Brussels sprouts are not his fav but he eats them). He introduced me to new ways of preparing some of the veg that I previously disliked. Alas, little round peas still didn’t make the cut for me. Then his mom prepared a dish of leafy greens with garlic that I loved! So what does that have to do with peas?
That leafy green dish? The pea plant! The entire pea plant is edible! Of course the best parts are the soft tendrils and the young plant. So you can just plant tons of peas and harvest them when the plant reaches 8-10 inches high. I would do this but my children love peas. They like them so much that they just pick them and eat them raw. So I let them eat the peas and I cut off some of the softer parts of the plant for myself.
If you’d like to try pea greens you can find them this time of year at an Asian foods market. Or try growing your own! Peas are very easy to grow. They’ll grow almost anywhere and they grow quickly. When you are ready to give them a taste, here is the recipe my mother in law used to cook them:
•pea greens, about 2 cups or 1lb (I’m totally guessing here! I always just eyeball it.)
•5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
•Olive oil, about 2-3 tablespoons
•salt and pepper to taste
*teaspoon of sesame oil
While gathering the few things you’ll need, soak the pea greens in cold water and give them a shake to remove any dirt. Then spin dry in a salad spinner or pat dry with a clean towel.
Heat oil on med-high in your pan and add garlic. Stir frequently until aromatic then toss in pea greens. Stir everything around for about a minute. Then lower heat to low and cover for 2 min.
Remove lid. Stir and add salt, pepper and sesame oil. Promptly remove from heat and serve.
I hope you give pea greens a try. Leave me a note here if you do!