We talked about pea shoots in this week's edition of Last Chance Foods, and I have to admit, I've never eaten them. And I'm not noticing them at my farmers' market in Fort Greene Park. Nor have I ever seen them in the supermarket.
Shauna Reid's suggestion? Grow your own.
I found Reid's post about growing pea shoots in her Diet Girl blog. She makes it look super simple.
Toss a handful of dried peas in an old yogurt container filled with potting soil. (Punch some drainage holes in the bottom first.) Cover with about an inch or two of additional soil. Keep it moist, and cool. (Reid's in Scotland, so that part is easy.) And in two to three weeks, presto! The container bristles with tender pea leaves and tendrils — a "pea afro," as Reid called it, ready for nibbling.
"I'm not a big pea person, but this is like lettuce with a spring-like taste," Reid told me by phone, from Edinborough. "The shoots taste like peas, but in a lighter, fresher way — very delicate."
She initially was interested in growing snap and snow peas for their peas, not for their leafy parts. But she was put off by the need to stake or trellis the plants.
Then she noticed pea shoots ... and their price tag.
"I've seen pea shoots in the supermarket," she said — lucky her! — "and they cost about two pounds for this little tiny bag. I couldn't bring myself to buy it."
But, emboldened by a BBC television program called "The Edible Garden," Reid started growing peas instead. She uses ordinary, dried peas from the supermarket.
Brooklyn gardener Cathy Erway gave a little gasp when I asked her about grocery store peas. Erway, who's growing snap and snow peas on the roof of Sixpoint Brewery, in Red Hook, said she preferred ordering seeds from places like Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and Seed Savers Exchange.
Or, to continue the D.I.Y. theme, she suggested foraging for the seeds yourself.
"At this time of year, you can grab some snap peas and take out the peas and plant them," said Erway. "I did that with okra last year."
I like Shauna Reid's chutzpah, though, and her resourcefulness: ordinary supermarket peas, in old yogurt containers, grown on your windowsill. It's a great way to demystify something that can be hard to find, or quite costly.
Are you growing pea shoots? Have you found a great place to buy them? Let me know, and fast! The season for pea shoots is growing shorter as the days grow longer.