Peas, Pea Shoots, and Leeks (Vegan, Gluten Free)

You know what I think is cool? Eating different parts of the same organism in one dish, or the body of the organism alongside its progeny or other bodily secretions. Like a curry spiced with coriander and topped with cilantro; beet roots served with beet greens; fried rice with chicken and eggs, or; a nice, steamy, all-American cheeseburger.

This quick side dish is a nice dose of edible greenery that spans generations. Pea shoots (or what some inaccurately call pea tendrils, a botanist’s term that describes only the curly, thread-like portion of the pea shoot) are tasty, leafy greens that shrink like spinach when cooked but retain more of a bite. Peas, as you may know, are the fleshy seeds of the pea plant. The aroma of both ingredients is paired nicely with the pleasant skunkiness of shallots and leeks, and further enhanced by a wee bit of fat and salt.

Serve this as a side with… anything! Tofu and rice. Meat and potatoes. Pasta and family. Love and justice!  Just be warned that pea shoots are one of the most expensive items in the produce section of the grocery mart.

Peas, Pea Shoots, and Leeks (Vegan, Gluten Free)

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Serves: 4, as a side
Time: 20 minutes (There’s a bit of prep time.)

  • 1 tsp olive or grapeseed oil
  • 1 shallot, sliced thinly
  • 1 leek, white parts only, layers washed well & sliced thinly
  • 500-600 g (1 large bag) pea shoots
  • 1 cup peas (fresh or thawed from frozen)
  • 1 tsp vegan margarine (optional)
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Pea shoot: leaves and tendrils
Behold: the mighty pea shoot!

  1. Make sure to go through the pea shoots to remove any bad bits or other plants that can find their way into the bag (I often find baby dandelions). Wash the pea shoots and drain them.
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, sautée the shallot and leek in oil for 2-3 minutes.

Sauteed shallots and leeks
Be mindful that they don’t burn.

  1. Turn the heat up to medium high and add the peas and pea shoots. Just as if you were sautéing spinach, there will initially be too much veggie volume. However, it will shrink as the pea shoots cook down.

Pea shoots before shrinking
I added the shoots in increments, which must be a huge no-no at real chef school.

  1. Continuously fold the pea shoots around the pot, making sure all the pieces have an opportunity for direct contact with the hot pot bottom while allowing the moisture to evaporate out.
  1. Turn off the heat and take the pot off of the element when the pea shoots are soft and a somewhat deep green colour.  Cooking the pea shoots will only take about 5 minutes. Fold in margarine (optional), salt to taste, and pepper to taste.

Pea shoots, shrunk down after 5 minutes
At this point you might be thinking: I paid $7 for this?!?

  1. Serve warm with the rest of your tasty meal.

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