Pea shoots may sound like nouveax fare but they are merely the prunings of early pea vines. Tender and delicately delicious, they give us a surge of nutrition and feed our springtime craving for something green and good.
You can pluck them from your own garden or buy them by the bunch at many farmers’ markets. Look especially to stands operated by Hmong American growers, whose culinary tradition features pea tendrils, squash vine shoots and other vegetable trimmings in simple stir-fries and soups.
Here, pea shoots get a kind of Mediterranean treatment; they’re sautéed briefly with small, early-season onions, cooked into a frittata and sprinkled with feta cheese. It’s a simple dish, but when you choose all-organic ingredients, it will shine with flavor and satisfy all cravings.
1. Beat the eggs in a bowl with the cilantro or mint, salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter in 9- or 10-inch nonstick skillet (one with sloping sides) over medium-high flame. When butter begins to foam, add the spring onions and cook, stirring often, for a minute or two. Add the pea shoots; cook, stirring often, until the greens wilt and soften (but are not mushy), 2-4 minutes. (If there’s any liquid in the pan at this point, raise the heat to high and cook, stirring, until it has evaporated.)
3. Add another tablespoon of the butter to the pan and stir to distribute the butter evenly. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in the beaten eggs, cover the pan and cook until the eggs are mostly set, 8-10 minutes. (The top will still look a little wet at this point.)
4. Use a spatula to shape and smooth the outer edges of the frittata and round them attractively. Lay a towel on a counter. Slide the spatula underneath the frittata to loosen it from the pan. Carefully glide the frittata onto a platter, guiding it with the spatula. Place platter on the towel.
5. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter to the pan and tilt pan to distribute the butter. Wearing oven mitts, invert the hot pan over the top of the frittata (don’t worry, if the butter drips at all it will go onto the frittata). Grasp the pan-platter construction with both hands to hold it together and then flip it upside down, setting it back onto the towel. The frittata will now be back in the pan (and on its second side). Sprinkle the top with feta and return it to the heat to finish cooking a moment or two.
6. To serve, loosen the frittata from the pan and slide it back onto the platter. Sprinkle with chopped olives, if desired. You can serve this hot, warm or at room temperature.
To give the frittata a kicky undertone, add 1 minced serrano pepper to the skillet along with the spring onions. You can also completely alter it in any season by substituting other organic veggies, herbs and cheeses than the ones called for above:
Copyright by Terese Allen