Crisp, delicate pea shoots (sometimes called pea tendrils or pea greens) lend brightness and crunch to pastas, pestos, salads, and more! We're sharing some of our favorite ways to use pea tendrils in this recipe collection.
Fresh pea shoots (also called pea tendrils) are one of our favorite things about springtime. Our farmers market typically sells these vegetable greens in giant bags for a few fleeting, glorious weeks in May and early June (although if you're lucky, you can sometimes find them well into July).
Pea shoots are a delicious addition to your favorite sandwich or a quick salad, and their brightness also brings a lovely balance to richer foods (like the creamy mozzarella and salty prosciutto on a pea shoot pizza!)
Below, we're sharing our best tips for finding, storing, and cooking with pea shoots - plus a few of our favorite recipes!
- What Are Pea Shoots?
- Where to Buy Them
- Our Favorite Recipe
- Six Ways to Use Pea Tendrils (Without a Recipe!)
- Recipes that Use Pea Shoots
- Prosciutto and Pea Shoot Pizza
- Simple Lemon Pasta with Parmesan and Pea Shoots
- 5 Minute Pea Pesto
- Prosciutto-Wrapped Melon with Pea Tendrils and Burrata
- Fancy Toast with Mashed Chickpeas and Pea Shoots
- Panzanella Spring Salad
- Chickpea and Pea Shoot Salad
- Mediterranean Inspired Veggie Sandwich
What Are Pea Shoots?
Pea shoots - also called pea tendrils - are the curly, tender leaves of a pea plant. They're harvested early in the season, while the plant is still young and growing. Like microgreens, pea tendrils have small, delicate leaves and soft stems.
Pea shoots can be harvested from a variety of pea plants (including English peas, snow peas, and sugar snap peas) and have a bright, slightly sweet taste with a very mild pea flavor and a crisp texture.
Note: In this article, we're focusing on pea shoots and pea tendrils: The small, tender leaves of a pea plant, harvested early in the season when the plant is still young. Pea tendrils are slightly different from snow pea tips or snow pea shoots, which are larger, heartier greens with broad leaves that are harvested later in the season. Snow pea tips are common in Chinese cooking (they're delicious in quick garlic and snow pea tip stir fry made with a skillet or wok!)
Where to Buy Them
Pea shoots are in season in spring and early summer. We typically find them at our local farmers market, but you can also buy them at select grocery stores (they're available intermittently at some Whole Foods and Wegmans locations, as well as smaller specialty stores like co-ops and natural grocers).
Our Favorite Recipe
Asking us to pick a favorite pea shoot recipe is...unfair. But if we had to choose JUST ONE DISH from this recipe collection, it would be this 5 minute pea pesto.
It's quick, easy, and freezes exceptionally well. Make a big batch or two and freeze it in small mason jars so you can defrost a little bit as needed for pastas, sandwiches, and salads. It's a perfect way to bottle up that bright, sunshine-y spring flavor so it lasts all winter long!
Six Ways to Use Pea Tendrils (Without a Recipe!)
We're sharing our tried-and-true pea shoot recipes below, but you can also throw them into some of your existing favorites! A few of our favorite places to add a handful of fresh pea tendrils:
- Spring and summer salads. Add a few handfuls to any salad you're making! We love adding pea tendrils to our cilantro chicken chopped salad, a quick lemon arugula salad, or a grilled chicken and walnut salad.
- On top of avocado toast. Use these greens as a topping for some simple avocado toast. Dress it up by adding sliced cherry tomatoes and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, or use our grilled corn avocado toast as a base.
- With eggs. Stir fresh shoots into scrambled eggs at the very end of cooking, fold them into an omelette, or add them to a quick frittata (we love them as a topping for our leek frittata!)
- Serve with risotto. Add pea shoots to a creamy risotto at the very end of cooking, or use them as a garnish on top of the finished risotto. (Try them with our summer risotto or red wine risotto!)
- Add them to a sandwich. Add a layer of fresh pea tendrils to your favorite sandwich just like you'd use fresh lettuce greens! We recommend sandwiching these small greens between two larger items - like a piece of deli meat and a slice of cheese - to keep them in place so the sandwich is easier to eat.
- Anywhere you need a garnish! Because pea shoots are typically quite small and have a very mild flavor, they're a perfect garnish to just about anything. Use them anywhere you would use fresh herbs or microgreens to add a little color and crunch to your recipe!
Recipes that Use Pea Shoots
And now, the main event: Here are eight of our FAVORITE pea shoot recipes! This collection includes a mix of recipes from our archives, as well as a few selections from other chefs and recipe developers.
Prosciutto and Pea Shoot Pizza
This easy homemade pizza uses fresh pea pesto and shoots for a burst of spring and summer flavor!
Simple Lemon Pasta with Parmesan and Pea Shoots
A simple weeknight lemon pasta recipe with a light, bright lemon sauce.
5 Minute Pea Pesto
This homemade pesto recipe tastes like spring. An easy, creamy sauce that's perfect for pasta, chicken, salmon, and more.
Prosciutto-Wrapped Melon with Pea Tendrils and Burrata
This summertime appetizer is ready in just 10 minutes! Wrap some thin prosciutto around a few slices of crenshaw melon or cantaloupe, then garnish with fresh pea tendrils and chopped pistachios for the perfect bright, refreshing bite.
Photo Credit: Make with Mara
Fancy Toast with Mashed Chickpeas and Pea Shoots
This easy toast idea uses fresh pea greens as a bright, crisp garnish! You just need a few ingredients for this quick lunch.
Photo Credit: A Couple Cooks
Panzanella Spring Salad
This bright, crisp salad features fresh pea tendrils, spring asparagus, and fresh mint leaves with crispy bread croutons and crumbled feta cheese.
Photo Credit: Delish Knowledge
Chickpea and Pea Shoot Salad
This quick vegan salad is perfect for spring and summer! With a simple basil vinaigrette dressing, garbanzo beans, carrots, and red onion.
Photo Credit: Babaganosh
Pea tendrils contain many useful nutrients: They're especially good sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. Pea shoots also have a bit of protein and fiber. Learn more: Health Benefits of Pea Shoots.
Their flavor is very mild: It's bright and just slightly earthy (they don't have a strong pea taste at all!) Fresh pea shoots are quite crisp, but they'll wilt pretty quickly, so be sure to eat them within a few days of buying for the best texture and flavor!
Yes! Fresh, crisp pea shoots are delicious when eaten raw. Throw them into salads or use them anywhere you would use other microgreens (on top of crostini, in salads, etc).
Most microgreens are a tasty substitute for pea shoots! If you're cooking the pea shoots in some way (baking them in a frittata, wilting them in some hot pasta, etc) you can also typically swap them for chopped spinach, arugula, or even kale.
Treat pea shoots just like any other salad green! Rinse them well, then let the water drain off (we like to spread them out on a clean tea towel to let them dry for an hour or two) and store in the fridge. Pro tip: To keep pea shoots fresh longer, wrap washed and dried pea shoots in a clean napkin or paper towel (this will absorb any excess moisture), then place the wrapped tendrils in a plastic bag or Stasher Bag in the fridge's crisper drawer. Pea shoots can stay fresh up to 2 weeks with this method!
Pea shoots (also called pea tendrils or pea greens) are the tender leaves and stems of a young pea plant. They're cut from the main pea plant, leaving the plant itself intact so it can keep growing and eventually produce pea pods. Pea sprouts, by contrast, are pea seeds that have just begun to sprout and grow: When you eat pea sprouts, the entire small plant (including the seed) is consumed. Learn more: Guide to Pea Sprouts and Shoots
Because pea shoots are fairly delicate, they don't freeze well. If you'd like to preserve your fresh pea shoots for later, we recommend making a batch of our pea shoot pesto and storing that in the freezer for use throughout the winter months!
We hope you love these recipes! If you have any questions, drop a comment below. For more bright and colorful meal ideas, check out our full spring recipe collection!
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