Have you had enough of the snow, cold and crappy gray weather? Listening to my parents talk about the weather in the Midwest, it sounds like they’ve been buried in an igloo for the past 3 months, haven’t seen the light of day and can’t tell which end is up due to the lack of sunlight. That would be one of the reasons why I left that part of the country. Well, I’ve got something for you Coldville folks to look forward to and and an ingredient for those of us in the warmer climes to be adding to your cooking repertoire this month. Pea shoots.
You may have heard of pea shoots before, or maybe you’ve heard them called pea sprouts or pea tendrils. Technically, what this recipe calls for is pea shoots. Pea sprouts, which are probably what you’ve seen year round at your market, are the tiny greens with a long stem and diminutive leaves at the very top. After you’ve made this crepe recipe, and fallen in love with it, you could use the pea sprouts when pea shoots are out of season (which only lasts for about a month).
Pea shoots may be this years ramps. Remember all the hullabaloo over ramps (wild spring onions) last spring? Peas are one of the first veggies of Spring and pea shoots are the first 4 to 5 inches of those pod sprouting plants. Of course, the harvesting of the shoots means that those plants won’t be producing peas (you’ve just cut down the whole plant) but I think you’ll agree that it’s a worthy sacrifice.
The tender stems, leaves and tendrils are all edible (as are the occasional dainty white flower) and taste like fresh spring peas (natch). These little guys are so tender, they don’t even need cooking. But a light pea shoot sauté is also sublime. So you can sprinkle them in your salads for a tasty and beautiful addition to the usual greens. Those thread thin tangled pea tendrils add a touch of excitement to a boring salad.
You need to move on these pea shoots when you see them, since you’ll only find them in the markets for about a month. (Although you may also find them year round at Asian markets sold as dau mui.) After bringing them home, you’ve only got a couple of days to use them – they are delicate little things. You can put them in a glass of water and then into the refrigerator or wrap them in a lightly dampened paper towel then place them into partially opened zip top plastic bag, then into the refrigerator. If there are any woody stems or tough tendrils, just snip them off. If the stems are too tough, simply strip leaves, tendrils and flowers and just use them in the dish.
The power of one. Yes, “they” say there is strength in numbers…and there definitely is: Egypt, for example. But there truly is power in one and no, I am not referring to Charlie Sheen and his one man media army.
Remember those angst riddled teenage years you survived (or maybe you’re trying to survive your own teenagers angst filled lives at the moment so this is really fresh)? All those hours you spent in your room, listening to moody music, writing poetry (or I suppose in the case of the boys) or jerking off to either forget the rejection of your peers or to summon the courage to do something new. New research shows that alone time is imperative for us to have fully developed personalities. (If my parents had known this when I was growing up, they probably wouldn’t have let me spend so much time alone. No one has ever accused me of lacking in personality.) Plus, a very strong link exists between solitude and spiritual and creative people. Jesus, Thoreau and Beethoven all had significant revelations during periods in which they were in solitude. So any of you creative types need some of this down time to do what you do best.
Quality time with yourself (quality = no modern technology is present with you) has been shown to increase memory, focus, mood (see teenage experience), creativity and improved social skills. Yes, spending time with yourself has been shown to benefit people’s social interactions by making them more empathetic towards others and opening their perspective and understanding people that are not as similar to them.
Being around people all the time greatly influences our thinking and behavior, especially when it’s those people we are attracted to. We not only mimic their behavior, we actually take on their opinions as well. It’s not necessarily that we let others cloud our judgement, but it makes it more difficult for us to form our own opinions.
Being alone does not equal being lonely. We all need some time alone (not just those with small children, although they may need it more for other reasons). This is solitary time – no TV, no cell phones, no internet and not even a significant other. If a little bit of alone time betters yourself, it stands to reason that a better you makes for a better “us.” Also, as I said before…alone time makes us better at socially interacting with real live people.
Recipe: Pea Shoot Buckwheat Crepes
Buckwheat Crepes Recipe
- 1/2 Cup Buckwheat Flour
- 1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
- 1 Cup Milk
- 3/4 Cup Water
- 3 Large Eggs
- 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- Pinch of Kosher Salt
- Unsalted Butter
- Handful of Pea Sprouts (rinsed and dried)
- 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1/4 Cup Grated Asiago Cheese
- 1 3 Ounce Package Prosciutto (cut into strips)
- Combine all ingredients (except for the butter) in a blender of food processor and purée until smooth.
- Pour ingredients into a spouted pitcher. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 1 hour (or refrigerate for up to a day).
- Lightly butter a non-stick pan and place it over medium high heat.
- Stir the batter.
- Pour 2 tablespoons of batter into the pan. Tilt and swirl the pan so that the batter forms a thin circular layer. Cook until the top bubbles and the underside is golden brown. Flip crepe over with a spatula or your fingers (or a combination of both – which is what I did).
- Remove the crepe from the pan and lay on a piece of wax paper. Continue doing this until all of the batter is gone.
- Take 1 crepe and sprinkle it with the grated cheeses.
- Lay 1 or 2 pea sprouts on top of the cheese.
- Drape strips of prosciutto diagonally across the sprouts.
- Fold filled crepe in half lengthwise then in half width wise forming a triangle. Lean the triangles against one another (this will help keep them closed) and serve.
Buckwheat Crepe Recipe from Joy of Cooking
I stopped buttering the pan after the 3rd crepe. I found that it was easier to flip them without the butter. Either way, they still taste really good.
I cut this recipe in half and only used 1 egg, with great results. You could easily substitute soy/almond/rice milk for the milk in this recipe and the crepes would work beautifully.
Cooking time (duration): 15 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 4
Meal type: lunch
Culinary tradition: French