Pea tendrils and other mystery greens

Last summer I discovered pea tendrils, the young shoots and leaves of edible pea plants (snap peas, snow peas, garden peas).  Raw or sauteed they are more sweet and tender than the pods and peas.

This discovery has opened my eyes and my mind to all of the “mystery greens” I’ve seen, but largely ignored at the farmers’ markets.  I tend to lump them all into the category of “greens,” and think of them only as lettuce or spinach substitutes, but I’ve come to see them as unique and wonderous vegetables, worthy of more respect.

(Un)fortunately, I am not alone in this discovery.   Last year, the pea tendrils were dirt cheap.  Largely ignored by most market-goers, I was able to buy large bundles for $1.00.  This year, the price is higher, the bundles smaller, and the vendors are sold-out earlier.  As with most culinary “secrets,” a good one can’t be kept for very long.

Luckily, there are always new adventures and new discoveries to be found.  Writing this, I find myself with an intense craving for greens, a craving for the taste and texture of the greens undisguised or overpowered with heavy fat and seasoning such as the bacon and onions my grandmother added to any greens (whether served as a “salad” or as a vegetable).

I’ve always loved food, not only highly caloric foods, but real, healthy good food too.  Still, it seems odd to praise pea leaves in the same way I once did cheesecake.  Not that I’ve come to disdain cheesecake, but there are so many amazing low-calorie food adventures that await, that I don’t have to seek out the high-calorie ones.  It’s something to remember when I encounter cheesecake.


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