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Pea shoots and leaves

message posted 23-Jun-08 09:44:48
Pea shoots have an intense flavour without the sweetness of peas and are currently the latest must-have leaf, often teamed with wild garlic, on fashionable menus. They are grown in Wiltshire and are on sale at Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer in 50g bags.

That doesn't sound much but they are very light and a little goes a surprisingly long way.

Pea shoots look very pretty in salads but need other assertive leaves such as watercress or rocket to stand up to their overpowering flavour. Watercress, māche and a few pea shoots make an excellent salad with beetroot and a soft-boiled egg, all dressed with garlicky vinaigrette.

Like peas, pea shoots go very well with asparagus and mint, and the combination makes an interesting good risotto. Although it is delicious alone with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan, this risotto is extremely good with quickly fried gammon steaks.

I'm no slouch when it comes to making pastry but ready-made pastry cases are a very useful thing to have on standby ready to service a couple of eggs and a few odds and ends.

The other night, when my stores were particularly low, I knocked up an interesting quiche-style tart, the eggs stirred with garlicky pea shoots and feta, the top gilded with Parmesan. Once again this would be good with gammon steaks but a simple salad of crisp Little Gem lettuce leaves makes a lovely light supper.

I'm a sucker for Jersey Royal potatoes and find them very hard to resist despite their exorbitant price tag and increasingly disappointing flavour. Leftovers, if there ever are any, are delicious cold with a twist of sea salt and make the best ever fry-ups, but they are great too in soups.

I added spinach and pea shoots to the equation and ended up with a superb green soup so good that instead of preceding supper, it became it.

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