I just can’t wait for my CSA shares to start coming in, so yesterday I went to a farmers market in downtown Boston. My hopes were high, and I spent the entire train ride imagining all the fun greens and maybe even baby spring vegetables I’d bring home. When I arrived, the first tent was full of flowers. The next, herbs. Then there was a bread and pastry tent, some more herbs and flowers, and… that was it.
Where are my vegetables!
I milled around the short string of tents, walking up and down the line, desperately trying to find something other than impatiens and coffee cake. Then I started asking myself, “well, do I need a $25 two year old rosemary plant?” I wanted the answer to be yes, but I kept moving. Finally, tucked between chocolate mint and calla lilies was a huge basket of… leaves? Vines? I wasn’t sure what it was, but it looked like I could eat it. The sign said, “Organic Sweet Pea Tendrils – $3/box.”
I marched up and said, “I’ll take a box, please” as the man behind the table was trying to offer me a sample. “oh,” he said, “you’ll just buy some then?” He probably had spent most of the morning explaining what pea tendrils are and handing out samples to convince people that they really are tasty and you really should eat them. But not me! I’m used to buying mysterious vegetables.
I have a bit of an addiction to trying new and interesting greens. I had no idea, of course, that you could eat pea tendrils. I had no clue as to what they tasted like, but I didn’t care! I wanted a box of that leafy mass he was standing behind; I’d figure out the details later. Of course, as soon as I got home I spent an hour googling them, all the while wishing I had asked a few questions when I bought them.
So here’s what I found out: they are usually lightly stir fried in Chinese cooking, but I think that pertains to pea tendrils that are a bit older and sturdier than the ones I bought. The tendrils I came home with were very delicate, almost the same texture as the clover you have growing in your lawn but with crisper stems. I had no desire to cook them at all, so I whipped up this salad. I did keep the asian flavors, though, by using daikon radish and a sesame soy dressing.
I hope I find them again before spring is over. They are deliciously crisp and sweet, and they taste like peas! Their texture is nice balance between the soft leaves and the thin crispy stems. They don’t keep well, so if you find them at a farmers market or elsewhere, be prepared to eat them that day. I hear you can even grow them yourself quite easily, even indoors.
In short, I’m in love with pea tendrils. You should be, too.