To Market with Mo: Eat your pea….tendrils please

May 3, 2012 at 3:18 pm

S4010222Going to guess there are a number of you out there like me. Yes, the market geek who, although we have indoor options, have been counting down the days to outdoor market season. And with the opening of outdoor season just a couple days away I am admittedly giddy. It might be hard dragging my butt out of bed during the week but come this Saturday morning I will be up and out the door and to the market, most likely waiting for them to finish setting up. Yes, That much of a geek.

One of the things I am hoping to see this weekend is a pile of beautifully bundled greens with delicate curling tendrils. Ah, the precursor to peas (typically making their debut in June but with the wacky weather this year, I am guessing it will be sooner) – pea tendrils. So fresh and green and screaming Spring.

Pea tendrils are the shoots and leaves of the snow pea plant.  A spring delicacy that has the subtle sweetness of the pea, but crisp.  Look for tendrils that are young and tender. How can you tell they aren’t too mature? Hint: if they have flowers on them the tendrils and stems can be tough.  If that is the case no worries, just remove the tougher stems and tendrils.

Pea tendrils do not keep well (hence, sadly, not seeing them on too many restaurant menus) so if you pick a bunch up from the market I would advice preparing that day or at the latest the next.  Trust me on this, it is heartbreaking to find the forgotten withered bunch of pea tendrils at the bottom of the crisper drawer.

And honestly preparation couldn’t be easier.  Use pea tendrils as you would other greens: sauteed in butter, stir-fried, in soups, or raw, as or in a salad with a light vinaigrette.  A favorite in Chinese kitchens, where the pea tendril are referred to as dau miu, simply stir-fried in in hot oil and garlic until just wilted and ta da – done. Already planning on a Cinco de Mayo? How about pea tendrils on your fish tacos?

If I do score some pea tendrils this weekend I will take immediate action and whip up this simple stir-fry.  The following results in a great lunch, plain and served over white rice, or a nice side for dinner.

Pea Tendril, Mustard, Shiitake Stir-FryS4010228

1 bunch pea tendrils

1 bunch red mustard greens

1 bunch of chinese broccoli or broccoli rabe

1 cup sliced mushrooms (hello River Valley Kitchens ‘surprise’ bag)

1 tablespoon of minced green garlic (or sub 1-2 cloves mature garlic)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

splash of dry sherry

Trim stems of pea tendrils, mustards and broccoli rabe.  I went with leaving the greens whole but you can give a rough chop if you like.

Heat oil in large fry pan or wok until hot.  Add mushrooms and cook for approximately 1 minute. Add the oyster sauce to coat the mushrooms. Add green garlic and then immediately add all of the greens.  Cook until just wilted.  Finish with pinch of salt and a splash of dry sherry. Serve as side or over white rice.



  1. Kelly says:

    I literally just posted on my blog about how much I geek out when the farmers markets move outside! If I see someone awkwardly standing behind tents waiting for the set up to be completed, I’ll know it’s you. This recipe looks absolutely delicious and so simple. I will have to look for pea tendrils this weekend!

  2. Moira says:

    kindred spirits!

  3. Susan says:

    Just bought my first Pea tendrils ever at farmers market. Thanks for the recipe for cooking but they are also great in shakes. Blend up really well and compliment berries very nicely.

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