The first time I ever tried pea shoots (aka pea tendrils) was at a Chinese restaurant somewhere in NYC a few years ago when Girl Slice ordered them as the vegetable portion of our meal. They came to the table sautéed simply in oil with some garlic and ginger. I fell in love with them right then and there.
Known as dou miao in Mandarin, they've got a flavor somewhere between peas and spinach and have a crunchy chewiness that's a dead ringer for something Italians are pretty dang familiar with already.
"Hey, the texture of these pea shoots reminds me of sautéed broccoli rabe," I told Girl Slice. And then my grease-addled brain instantly made the leap to ... pizza topping!
I found my pea shoots in the Chinatown in Flushing, Queens, but the internets seem to indicate that they're available at some farmers' markets and such. They start appearing — at least in the NYC area — in early May or so and seem to be available until it gets too hot for pea plants to grow — pea plants like it cool, so they're right at home in early spring and in autumn (though, of course, in warmer climes you'll start to see them earlier in the year).
What You'll Need (for 4 smallish, 12-inch pizzas)
- 1 pound pea shoots, washed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger (optional but recommended)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Sautéed Pea Shoots Procedure
1. It couldn't be easier. In a large sauté or fry pan or pot or whatever you've got, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté until just golden. Add the ginger, if using, and sauté a bit.
2. Add the pea shoots and stir. Like all things green under heat, they will wilt rather quickly. Sauté for about a minute or two until they're cooked down. Remove from heat and add them to your pizz en place.