Saturday, June 23, 2007

Pea Shoots Improved and Updated


Any recent post you may have read here at Unique Culinary Adventures regarding pea shoots no longer exists. The post assumed that fresh pea tendrils might no longer be available this season, and that further elaboration would have to wait until next year. This morning my assumption proved incorrect when once again Gardener's Gourmet was selling them at Baltimore's Saturday Waverly Farmers Market at 33rd and Barclay.

The earlier post had noted that even when cooked, pea tendrils could be a bit stringy. I had suggested that one remedy might be to remove most of the stems and tendril strings. The post had featured our image of Pea Tendrils with Coconut prepared exactly according to the recipe. Today, I was able to follow through with that suggestion. After getting rid of most of the stems and tendril strings, the diminished volume of leaves that remained was easily enough accommodated by reducing commensurately the amount of all the other called for ingredients. What resulted was significantly more tender and pleasant.

The previous and now deleted post had also provided a link to a recipe for Pea Shoot, Quail's Egg and Bacon Salad, kindly contributed to BBC by Sybil Kapoor. Having since sourced additional pea shoots, I prepared this recipe, albeit with some minor changes, translations, and observations that could prove helpful to anyone interested in making it. What resulted was a great salad. With all due credit to Sybil Kapoor and BBC, here's how I did it.


serves 4


1 clove garlic, finely diced

1 teaspoon good Dijon Mustard

2 tablespoons good white wine or champagne vinegar

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


6 little gem lettuces ( I used Boston lettuce, and buttercrunch would work well)

2-3 generous handfuls of pea shoots, washed

12 quail's eggs, boiled and shelled, or canned

2 tablespoons olive oil

225 grams back bacon (actually 8 ounces Canadian bacon), finely diced

Begin by whisking together the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Season to taste. Trim the lettuces, discard the tough outer leaves, and wash the sweet inner leaves. (using Boston lettuce, I removed but two layers of outer leaves, and thereafter separated and discarded the thicker stem section from all the leaves). Dry in a salad spinner or gently pat dry in a clean tea towel and place in a salad bowl. Wash and gently dry the pea shoots and add to the bowl. (Here, I removed all the stringy tendril tips and discarded most of the pea shoot stem.) If using fresh quail eggs, cook them according to the directions on the package. If canned, of course, they're fine straight from the can. Heat the two tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and briskly cook the diced Canadian bacon until crisp. After a couple of minutes, Canadian bacon cooked in this way may begin to "pop" like popcorn. This means it's crisp. It helps here to use a scatter guard.) Remove with a plastic spoon and drain on some paper toweling before tipping into the salad. meanwhile, halve your quail eggs lengthwise. Toss the salad leaves in the vinaigrette before gently mixing in the shelled, halved quail eggs. Serve immediately.