The Cooking Chronicles: Wilted Pea Tendril Salad

Unlike a conventional CSA with a produce farmer, where I think the sheer quantity and new-to-me vegetables would be overwhelming for a novice cook like me, I much prefer the route of trying and experimenting with different varieties at my own pace. If you can believe it, I tried parsnips and kale for the first time in the past year.

Having challenged myself to visit the City Market every week this year, I’m finding it even easier to do this, as I am now even more aware of the burgeoning seasonal inventory that changes every week. And though I may not pick up that produce item the first time around, being able to identify it, and realizing that we can grow it in Alberta is the first step for me.

Last Saturday, I couldn’t resist buying a beautiful bouquet of pea tendrils from Sundog Organics (their lovely displays of rustic baskets alone could get me to relinquish my wallet, I think). Though I had originally intended to throw them into an odds and ends stir-fry (made up of whatever was nearing the end of its life in the crisper), I thought better of it, and began searching for a recipe that would more appropriately showcase the tendrils.

A simple, warm pea tendril salad with mushrooms and shallots ended up fitting the bill, mostly because I had all of the ingredients required, and because I wouldn’t have the opportunity to accidentally overcook the delicate greens.

Eaten raw, the pea tendrils were crisp and sweet, and would make a lovely garnish or an addition to a mixed green salad. In this warm salad, they retained their fresh bite, contrasting nicely with the softened, buttery mushrooms. It would make a great starter dish for a dinner party, or a light accompaniment with fish.

Wilted pea tendril salad with mushrooms

Have you tried any new items from the City Market lately?

5 thoughts on “The Cooking Chronicles: Wilted Pea Tendril Salad

  1. Bravo! Standing ovation! I wondered if you had set a goal to get to the market each week… as that is exactly what you have been doing. I love the sense of neighbourhood that is developing down there in the mornings. I will probably see you tomorrow!
    The first time I had pea tendrils was last year at Todd English’s flagship restaurant: Olives, in Boston. (I met him there that night – swoon) And they were served tossed (just wilted) with a fresh pasta. I was hooked. I had never seen them for sale – then, last summer, Edgar Farms had them. Wonderlust! I made the same pasta dish and they were a hit. Not to Vanja, of course. Where’s the meat???? And then I used them until they produced no more… I LOVE them in salads and they are gorgeous as a garnish on an appetizer. This year, Sundogs has them… and, the Chinese Market always carries them, in a little larger form… but great addition to stir fry. They are a completely different seed than the pea we eat. This seed is for the tendrils only, and the pod is not so palatable. The meal you made looks incredible.
    (I cannot believe you tried parsnips for the first time this year! They can be so delicious…)

  2. Valerie – Mack’s the same way about meat, though he’s gotten more used to tofu as a meat substitute as of late. Yes, I’ll probably see you tomorrow!

    Cheryl – they didn’t taste like peas to me…more like a milder form of spinach, maybe.

  3. Did you taste them raw, Sharon? When raw, or briefly cooked, they do taste like peas to me… I haven’t used them like this, so don’t know how the heat changes their flavour… but raw, or very lightly sauteed – they are pea flavoured to me.

  4. Valerie – Maybe the fact that they were crunchy greens threw me off. I know my brain kept telling me to compare them to watercress because the leaves looked similar, even though the tendrils tasted nothing like watercress. Sometimes, I should just close my eyes and trust my taste buds! I’ll try them again and let you know :).

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