A few of you asked me about the little green seedlings growing, packed together, in a photo a few posts ago—they’re pea shoots. I’ve been growing them on my windowsill through the later part of this winter. I thought I’d share the process with you a bit. They are silly-easy to grow, whether you’re a city slicker or country kid, and quite pretty. It’s satisfying to have some sweet, tender greens right at your kitchen window to clip and toss into a salad or sandwich for some texture.
The basics: Get some peas (there are certain varieties sold specifically for sprouting, but any variety sold for growing will do, really. I use an organic, dwarf grey sugar pea, which is known to be a nice salad green). Put them in some sort of container: a wide-mouth jar or glass bowl. Add water and let them soak for a few minutes. Then, rubberband some cheesecloth over the opening of the jar and drain out the water (it doesn’t need to be completely dry inside; a little damp is good). Set the jar on your windowsill. Do this every day for a few days—add water, drain through the cheesecloth, and allow to sit on the windowsill. After several days, the peas should start to sprout. Once they begin sprouting, all you need to do is spread them in a layer on a few inches of soil and keep them moist—they’ll do the rest. Normally you wouldn’t want seedlings to be so close together, but since you’ll be eating the seedlings, it’s okay. You can clip the peas when they’re more like sprouts, or wait longer (which I prefer) until they’re 4 or 5 inches tall, leafy and tendril-y. Sometimes they will continue to grow after you clip them, and you can get one or two rounds of shoots out of the original peas.
My favorite way to enjoy them lately is quickly sautéed in a very hot skillet of garlicky oil, slightly seared, just barely wilting. After that, possibilities abound: on a piece of toast (with or without a smear of ricotta), stirred into warm lentils, or just on the side to add variety to a plate. It wasn’t until I tossed a tangle of them into the last seconds of cooking scrambled eggs, though, that things got spectacular.The violets are completely optional, but we have a million dotting the backyard right now, and I can’t resist snipping them to finish off most dishes—too pretty.
Garlicky pea shoots
You will need
- 1 clove of garlic, pounded to a paste in a mortar and pestle, or crushed and minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups pea shoots, loosely packed
- Heat the oil and garlic in a skillet until very hot, but do not allow the garlic to brown. When the oil shimmers, add the pea shoots, and stir to coat with oil. Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes, until the shoots have wilted a bit and their leaves look a bit frizzled. Salt and pepper to taste.
To add into scrambled eggs, remove the pea shoots from the skillet and set aside in a bowl. In the same skillet, make scrambled eggs your favorite way (I’m a low-and-slow kind of girl). Just before the eggs are cooked as much as you’d like them to be, stir in the pea shoots. Serve with crusty toast.
I always reserve a few uncooked pea shoots to toss on at the end.