Cucumber, Pea Shoots, Grapefruit Salad

Pea Shoots, Cucumbers & Grapefruit

Is there anything better than a big bunch of pea shoots in the spring? This one bunch has been enough for seven meals. Four salads, two meals of soup and I have some left for salad tomorrow. Yum!

For today, I chopped up the tops of the pea shoots (I used all the bottoms in the soup yesterday) and scattered them on a plate. I put some almonds in a dry pan on high heat and let them toast while I prepared the rest of the salad. Then I peeled half a cucumber and after it was peeled, continued with the peeler to slice off thin slice after slice and scattered them on the pea shoots. Then I supremed one grapefruit and spread it around the outside. I chopped the toasted almonds and tossed them on top. Adding some salt and pepper, I sprinkled some balsamic vinegar on top as well as a bit of walnut oil and served.

I love the mix of hearty toasted almonds, the light cucumber, the tangy sweet grapefruit and the hearty pea shoots all harmonized by the balsamic vinegar and oil. It was a delicious and light supper for a hot day.

 

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Pea Shoots & Bacon Soup

Pea Shoots & Bacon Soup

Pea shoots are the essence of spring time and I have been enjoying several salads with pea shoots, but I wanted to figure out a way to use the bottom half of the shoots, those tougher, larger, fibrous stalks. I decided to make a pea shoos pureed soup.

In my 2 quart pan, I melted 1 TBSP of butter on medium low. I chopped up half of a medium yellow onion and sautéed them in the butter. I crushed and chopped up two cloves of garlic and added them and let them cook. Then I chopped up 3 slices of bacon into small pieces and let them cook with the onions and garlic.

While they sautéed, I chopped up 4 red potatoes into 2 inch cubes. Once the bacon was done,, I added 1 quart of chicken broth (from the roast chicken I made last week) and the chunks of red potatoes. I put a lid on the pan and let them cook until fork tender. You can use a potato masher to mash them up a bit.

While the potatoes cooked, I rinsed the pea shoots in cold water and chopped up all but the tender top shoots into 2 inch long pieces or so. Add to the soup and let cook.

Remove from heat and let cool. Then puree until smooth. Because the pea shoots can be fibrous, after the soup was pureed, I poured it through a strainer so the resultant soup was smooth with no bits of pea shoot fibers or stalks remaining. I cut a lemon in half, and juiced it into the soup. Adding a bit of salt and pepper to taste and it was done, just needing a bit of reheating before serving – garnished with some tendrils of pea shoots.

This makes 8 servings. The soup is bright and delicious. The lemon juice is absolutely what makes the soup so delicious – hot or cold.

Pea Shoots with Red Onions and Radishes

Pea Shoots, Radishes and Red Onions

 

I took a handful of pea shoots and chopped off the tops, for the bottom half, I tore the leaves off, leaving out the stems. I laid them on a plate. With a mandoline, I sliced about 2 TBSP of red onion – very thin. I also sliced two gorgeous radishes thinly. I sprinkled the onions and radish slices on the pea shoots. I grated about 2 tsp of parmesan on top.

In a small bowl, I mixed 2 tsp of olive oil, juice from 1/2 a fresh lemon, 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp of dijon mustard. I added some cracked pepper, stirred and poured on the salad, tossing the dressing to mix it in.

This made a delicious, light salad with lots of bite. The sweet tang of onions, the fresh heat of radishes and the bright tanginess of the lemony, mustard  vinaigrette made for an explosion of flavor balanced by the delicious earthiness of the pea shoots.

 

Savory Grapefruit Supreme Salad

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First I cut a few thin slices of yellow onion and put them in a bowl of 2 tbsp regular vinegar and 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar. I sliced as much onion as would be fully covered, knowing that even though I will only use a few pieces for this salad, the rest will be great for other salads or on an omelette or potatoes.

I laid down a bed of greens, using the pea shoots. It took 4 shoots, removing the leaves except for at the very top because the tendrils look so pretty. I then peeled and supremed a grapefruit. See below on how to supreme a grapefruit. I spread a few of the slices of onion on top. I cut up 4 Castelvetrano olives and spread them on top as well. I used Castelvetrano because they have such a rich, buttery flavor that will work well with the citrus acidity of the grapefruit. I sprinkled a little bit of feta on top, drizzled a bit of olive oil, some salt and fresh ground black pepper. At the end, I took one small dried red chili pepper and crushed it and sprinkled the flakes on top.

The flavor is delicious with a super fresh spring flavor coming from the pea shoots which taste like peas right out of the garden. The blend of buttery olives, feta, lightly pickled onions and grapefruit is marvelous and the bit of heat from the red pepper flakes is a perfect note to end it on.

How to Supreme a Grapefruit:
Peel the grapefruit. It may seem redundant since you will be cutting off the pith anyway, but it makes it easier to see what you are doing. Cut off one end of the grapefruit so it gives you a flat edge. Using a fine knife (I use a boning knife) cut just inside the pith, removing all of it. You should not throw the pith away, though, but go ahead and eat it. It is not that bitter and strengthens your nails like nobody’s business. Now cut inside the lines of the wedge, removing the segments with no skin for a lovely grapefruit supreme.

Here’s a video: She does not peel first and that may be easier, but I like to eat the pith.

Springtime Strawberry Asparagus Salad with Pea Shoots

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This is insanely delicious. When I finished lunch I was tempted to make another right away. It’s super easy taking less than 10 minutes from start to finish.

I already had some toasted almonds from a salad I made yesterday, but if you don’t have any, just chop about 5 or 6 almonds and toast in a dry skillet for a few minutes until they brown. You can toast the almonds while preparing the rest of the salad.

Using a vegetable peeler, I cut thin strips from 3 asparagus spears and layered half in the bottom of my salad bowl. I then cut two strawberries in thin slices and layered half of them. I took 4 pea shoots and pulled the leaves from the stems except for the tendrils at the top which I left whole. I chopped the leaves and layered on top of the strawberries. Then I put the rest of the asparagus and strawberries on top in layers. I cut thin slices from the top of a green onion, about 2 tbsps or so. I added about 1/2 ounce or so of chevre (goat cheese), crumbling it over the top. I sprinkled the almonds on top, squeezed a quarter lemon over the top and added some salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

The strawberries and the toasted almonds complement each other as does the chevre. Meanwhile the pea shoots and asparagus love the bit of lemon and oil and the sweetness of the chevre brings them together beautifully. It’s a fabulous mix of flavors and tastes like springtime in a bowl.

Pea Shoots Salad

Pea Shoots Salad

Nothing says spring like some fresh pea shoots. They can be harvest after just a couple of weeks, far sooner than peas, so they are always an early harbinger of all the good fresh veggies that are soon to come. They are no more expensive than good lettuce and can be served fresh or cooked. For this simple salad, I chopped a handful of almonds and lightly toasted in a dry pan.

While the almonds toasted, I cleaned and lightly chopped about 12 pea shoots, pulling the big leaves off the stems and only using the stems from the tender tendrils at the top. I then sliced about 4 slices off a chunk of parmesan cheese using a vegetable peeler. I added a few slices off the top of a green onion. I cut a lemon in half and squeezed some juice from half the lemon, added a few teaspoons of olive oil, some fresh ground pepper and salt.

The flavors are fresh and the mix of bright lemon tartness with the sweetness of pea shoots and the heartiness of toasted almonds and the bit of bite from the onions is irresistible.