Photo by James Dickinson
Pea shoots are spring's teenagers — they're no longer sprouts, nor are they full-grown pea plants. Small and leafy, they taste as fresh and green as they look. "They're so versatile," says Jo Pendergraph of Manakintowne Specialty Growers. "They're good fresh, and you can cook them like you would any green." A great addition to any salad, pea shoots are full of vitamins A, K, C and folic acid.
Pea shoots are best served as fresh as possible, but Pendergraph says they will keep up to two weeks after harvest in the fridge. When shopping for pea shoots, look for bright green coloring and a few big leaves, but make sure the top two leaves are present on the tip on the stem. You can find Manakintowne's pea shoots at Ellwood Thompson's Local Market, Little House Green Grocery and Harvest Grocery and Supply, as well as in various restaurants around Richmond.
Pea shoots are one of the oldest known farmed plants, believed to have originated in Asia more than 12,000 years ago. They have long been used in Asian cooking, but only reached the Western world in the 1990s.
Pea shoots are delicious raw and can be added to any salad. They can be made into pesto, prepared with meat, fish or in pasta and are a wonderful addition to soup.
The chefs at Dutch & Co. shared their perfect recipe for a spring meal.
Savory Pea Shoot Crêpes Stuffed with Smoked Mushrooms, Sweet and Sour Fennel, with Creamy Mustard Dressing
(makes 10 crêpes)
1/2 cup of pea shoots
1 cup of whole milk
1 cup of all-purpose flour
2 whole eggs
2 tablespoons of butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon of salt
In a blender, combine the pea shoots and milk. Blend at medium for 10 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until just incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a storage container, then cover and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes. Heat a crêpe pan or nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Brush a thin layer of vegetable oil on the pan, and then, fairly quickly, add about 1/4 cup of the batter while tilting the pan in a circular motion so that it reaches the entire surface. Cook until the crêpe easily releases from the pan (1-2 minutes), and then flip it over and cook for another minute or two. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining batter. You may stack the crêpes with a layer of parchment paper in between. Reserve until you're ready to fill them.
1 pound of oyster mushrooms (or your favorite mushroom),
Smoke the oyster mushrooms in a stovetop smoker filled with applewood chips over medium heat for 20 minutes. Make sure your kitchen is well ventilated or you may want to do this outside over the grill. Remove the mushrooms and allow them to cool until you can easily handle them. Remove any tough stems and cut into quarter-size pieces.
Sweet & Sour Fennel
1 medium bulb of fennel, green stalks removed, and diced
1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup of sugar
2 teaspoon of salt
1 medium shallot, minced
Combine the vinegar, sugar and salt, and bring to a simmer until everything is dissolved. Place the fennel in a 2-cup sized container and top with the hot vinegar. Allow to cool for 15 minutes; then cover and place in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight. In a 1-quart saucepan, add the shallots and strain the vinegar over the top. Reserve the fennel. Over medium-high heat, reduce the vinegar mixture by half, and then add the fennel, cooking until tender and translucent. Transfer to a storage container and reserve.
Creamy Mustard Dressing
1/4 cup of Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon of grainy mustard
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of honey
2 tablespoons ofextra virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the oil, and whisk until incorporated. Slowly drizzle in the oil while constantly whisking, and season with salt, to taste. Transfer to a storage container and reserve in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
To put it all together:
Sweet and Sour Fennel
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until golden brown and lightly crispy around the edges. Add the butter and garlic and cook until the garlic is tender (about 1 minute). Turn the heat to low and stir in the fennel. Season to taste with salt and keep warm.
Pea Shoot Crêpes
Preheat oven to the lowest setting (somewhere between 150-180 degrees). Lay the crêpes on the counter so they are not overlapping. Spoon the mushroom filling in the center of each crêpe, dividing it evenly among them. Fold two of the opposite ends of the crêpe over top of the mushrooms, then repeat with the other two ends. Transfer to a sheet pan. Once all of the crêpes are assembled, place them in the oven to keep warm.
1/2 pound of Mixed Shoots from Manakintowne Growers
4 radishes, thinly sliced
Creamy Mustard Dressing
In a large mixing bowl, add the shoots and radishes. Add enough dressing until everything is lightly coated when mixed. Adjust with salt, to taste. Divide the shoot salad evenly among the plates and place the warm crêpes on top. Drizzle the top of each crêpe with a little more of the mustard dressing. Serve immediately.