Pea shoots are a delicious highlight of early summer eating. Brooke Dojny offers two salad recipes that make the most of tender tendrils’ sweet pea flavor.

Pea shoot

The summer solstice is upon us, and the long, long hours of daylight are beginning to produce welcome results in the garden and at the farmers’ market. Pea shoots — the tender leaves and tendrils, and sometimes even flowers — of pea plants, are showing up more and more, and have become one of those “new” ingredients that chefs love to play with.

The shoots are typically harvested from snow pea vines, although they can be from any type of garden pea. They are plucked from the growing point of the plant, and should be young and tender. Choose shoots that look fresh, bright green, and crisp, and store them, wrapped in paper towels, in an open plastic bag in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator. They can be eaten raw, as in the Sesame Pea Shoot Salad and Lobster and Pea Shoot Salad recipes here, or lightly wilted in a stir-fry.

It’s a bit early for garden peas, but sugar snap peas are here now and are an immensely satisfying garden plant. The vines seem to shoot up overnight, producing plump, crisp pods in abundant profusion. The only trick is remembering to pick every day to catch them while still young and tender and before their sugars turn to starch.

Sesame Pea Shoot Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

Salad
  • 1½ cups sugar snap peas
  • 6 cups pea shoots
  • 1½ tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coarse-grain Dijon mustard
Toasted Sesame Vinaigrette
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • ⅓ cup light olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Trim stems from snap peas and leave whole if small or cut in half on diagonal. Blanch in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 1 minute. Drain, run under cold water to stop cooking, and drain again. Pat dry with paper towels. Toss in a bowl with pea shoots.
  2. Toast sesame seeds in small dry skillet until one shade darker and fragrant. Cool.
  3. In a small bowl, combine vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Whisk in olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Drizzle dressing over salad, toss lightly, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve.

Lobster and Pea Shoot Salad with Creamy Mustard Dressing

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

Dressing
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • ⅓ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon coarse-grain Dijon mustard
Salad
  • 4 strips bacon
  • 1 cup small peas, fresh or thawed frozen
  • 2 cups chopped cooked lobster meat (10 ounces) (see Notes)
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • About 1½ cups tender pea shoots (see Notes)
  • About 8 Romaine lettuce leaves

Directions

  1. To make the dressing, whisk the mayonnaise with the sour cream, lemon juice, and mustard in a small bowl. (Can be made up to one day ahead and refrigerated.)
  2. Cook the bacon in a skillet over low heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, 10 to 15 minutes, (or cook it in a microwave). Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  3. If using fresh peas, blanch them in a saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, refresh in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking, and drain again. If using frozen peas, simply run them under warm water to thaw and drain on paper towels.
  4. Toss the lobster meat with the peas, tomatoes, and onion. Drizzle on enough dressing to bind the salad and season with salt and pepper to taste, keeping in mind that the bacon will add a bit more saltiness. (Can be made up to 4 hours ahead and refrigerated.)
  5. Line a serving platter with pea shoots. Fill lettuce leaves with the lobster salad and arrange over the pea shoots. Finely chop the bacon and sprinkle over the salad. Garnish with more pea shoots and serve.
Notes

1. Cook two 1¼-pound hard-shell lobsters or three 1-pound soft-shells and remove the meat or purchase picked-out meat.

2. Pea shoots are becoming more available at farmers’ markets and specialty markets, but if you can’t get them, baby spinach is a good substitute.

Lobster and Pea Shoot Salad Recipe excerpted from Lobster! © 2012 by Brooke Dojny. Photo © Sabra Krock. All rights reserved.

Brooke Dojny

Brooke Dojny is an award-winning food journalist and cookbook author who specializes in writing about New England food. She is the author of ChowderlandLobster!The New… See Bio

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Lobster!

by Brooke Dojny

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