We’ve been sent a mixed blessing from the weather gods here in Oklahoma. On the one hand, we’ve received a wonderful Spring rainfall and our state is green. The vegetables in my garden are green. The trees, the wheat and the landscape…all green. It’s beautiful here.
But on top of all that green, at least in some locations across the state (notably Norman and Woodward…ESPECIALLY Woodward) is now a blanketing of debris strewn about by tornadoes. And in a few cases, there are also grieving people who lost family members, including children. The losses also go past the people, however. And even if we know and understand that people are what matters, businesses, homes and a large variety of property now has to be cleaned up, rebuilt and managed.
I felt strange today. And lucky. Although I slept through the night both Friday and Saturday, and felt assured that we had warning systems in place as well as a storm shelter buried into our garage floor, many Oklahomans didn’t. People are tired, they’re sad, and they’re trying to help manage their lives as well as figure out how to help those in need.
I was thinking through these various thoughts as I went to one of two patches of peas I’m growing. One I’ve grown simply to use the shoots and that’s what I’m going to share with you today. The other, I’ll let grow to fruition and enjoy peas in a few weeks.
Pea shoots, cut early and properly, are an incredible addition to a healthy and balanced meal plan. There are literally endless ways to eat this beautiful plant that tastes just like the mild side of English peas. A Chinese graduate student was visiting our home Wednesday night and he said the people in his village ate them all the time, stir fried along with other vegetables. But you can also use them fresh in salads, on sandwiches as a lettuce substitute, cream them into a beautiful coulis, or in so many other ways.
I urge you to check out this website for all you ever wanted to know about pea shoots, recipes, and beautiful photos of the possibilities. And, if you’d like, you can grow them inside your home by a window like people grow bean sprouts or wheat grass.
Tonight I used them for a “local Okie” ingredient meal and I must say, this is one of my favorite Little Victory Garden creations to date:
“Green Un-wich Peashoot Sliders”
½ pound ground beef or sirloin – I use local and grass fed
½ large yellow onion, 1 quart sized bag of freshly cleaned pea shoots
Brown spicy mustard, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper
One or two medium sized green tomatoes
This is a very simple “build it” recipe.
Meat: Prepare your 2oz (approx) slider patties by shaping into a flattened ball then brushing with a 60/40 mixture of spicy mustard and Worcestershire sauce, blended into a nice basting paste. Grill over med-high flame until desired level of done-ness is reached.
Green tomatoes: Brush with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt. Grill over same flame as meat, flipping occasionally, until tender, slightly browned and shriveled, with grill marks visible.
Onions: Slice very thinly and caramelize in a few tablespoons of olive oil. The trick to caramelizing is to sauté on medium heat, taking care to toss or stir frequently for even browning.
Pea Shoots: After you wash your pea shoots, pat dry so the dressing will stick nicely. You might eat a couple of the shoots to make sure you are not including any shoots too thick to be tough to the bite. They should be fine, but testing the thickest shoot yourself will ensure an excellent dish.
Dressing: Whisk together 1 part red wine vinegar, 2 parts olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss the pea shoots to coat in dressing.
As soon as you pull your tomatoes and meat off the grill, build your dish and serve. You can see how to build the dish from the photo I believe, but just in case: place a grilled slice of tomato on your plate, center the meat on top of that, arrange a nice pile of caramelized onions over the meat, then top with a nice portion of dressed pea shoots.
Beautiful, delicious, and you’ll probably want to eat more than one.
I sat out on the porch and ate mine, looked at our very full rain gauge, thought about our tornado victims…and thanked God for our family’s safety and for my garden.
Take care, friends…