Sauteéd Pea Tendrils. Hello Spring, you’re early.

by Matt on January 18, 2011

Sometimes I feel like I live in a parallel universe. This universe is called California. While social media allows me to check in with friends from all over the place, hearing tales of snowstorms and shoveling during January just makes me feel even stranger, especially when it’s 82 degrees and I’m in shorts at the beach. And no, I’m so not complaining!

No where is this sensation more amplified than when I hit the farmers’ market.  You’d think after 15 years of happy California Livin’ I’d be used to this by now. Nope, I am not. There are still many head-scratching moments as I walk down the aisle of my farmers’ market looking at stacks of winter produce, berries, greens, and those sneaky little things that find life when all signs should be pointing to dormancy. But if it grows I’ll eat it, and for this I’m happy for mild California weather.

Last week while photographing an assignment I came across pea tendrils, those little young curly shoots and leaves of the pea plant that normally pop up during Spring. Ok, so they decided to make an appearance a bit early, I’m cool with that. With 70 and 80 degree weather after plenty of rain I shouldn’t be surprised. But I felt as if I was shopping in a dream, a place where I could have almost anything I wanted, and this jolt of early spring seemed to come out of nowhere.

Is it too early to be hoping for summer now?

Sauteed Pea Tendrils
This is my favorite thing to do with these little babies. And by “do” I mean “not much”. You’ll only need a few ingredients and because it’s so simple I’ll leave the measurements up to you. I like to add a hint of garlic to the pea tendrils but because their flavor is so subtle I try not to overpower them.

Pea tendrils, a handful or so, rinsed and chopped into 2 inch pieces or so
Some olive oil
Garlic clove, cut in half
A sprinkle of sea salt
Chili flakes, if you like heat

Rinse and chop the pea tendrils. I like a rough chop as I like to see the little curlies in the final dish. In a skillet heat a little bit of olive oil and the garlic halves until the aroma and essence of the garlic is released; remove the garlic clove from the pan and save for later if you’d like. Add the chopped tendrils and sauté until they cook slightly, how long will be up to you. But for pete’s sake, don’t overdo it, you want them barely wilted and still flavorful and crunchy!  Serve with a tiny sprinkle of sea salt and maybe chili flakes if you want a little bit of heat. But like the garlic don’t overdo it!