Monday, July 23, 2007

I Have a New Love

The rain was beating down last week when I finally made it to the farmers market. I made my choices quickly, moving from booth to booth and picking what looked best. I really had my hopes up for some zucchini flowers, but there were none in sight. One booth had bunches of pea tendrils, something I've heard a lot about, but never tried.

The first time I heard that people ate pea tendrils, I was amazed. I would never think to eat the part of the plant that helps the peas climb. I thought they would be too tough, despite the thin curls, because the plant would need strength to climb. I was all wrong. The leaves and the vines were very tender with just a little bit of bite.

I didn't get around to cooking these until tonight, and I was afraid they wouldn't be any good after 4 days in the fridge. There were a few bad pieces, but there was more than enough left after I culled them from the bunch. I heated some oil in a wok on high, then added the tendrils for about 10 seconds. They wilted immediately, and with that, they were ready to eat.

My first bite made me smile. The flavor was still bright and fresh, even after so many days. It tasted like a wonderful combination of fresh peas and asparagus - not quite as sweet as good peas, with a little of the woodsy quality of asparagus. Just cooking it in oil let the real flavors shine through, but now I'm looking forward to trying new flavors with it. My Chinese five-spice peeked its head out of the cabinet as I reached for the oil, so I may had to give it a try next time. I'm so pleased that I finally tried these, and I can't wait to pick some more up at the farmers market this week.

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