Bright green pea shoots with their curly tendrils, baby leaves, and white blossoms – the epitome of seasonal produce here in Gallatin Valley, and you can eat them! Mound them raw on a plate, spritz with fresh lemon and call it salad. Our favorite summer meals are often a mix of what I find fresh at the market, supplemented with other “finds”, like Linda’s steamed pork buns, Claudia’s tamales, Stella’s sourdough, or chèvre from Amaltheia.
The pea shoots in the photo were grown by Matt and Karin of Three Fiddles Farm. Stuck by the beauty of the tendrils, leaves, and white flowers when I saw them for the first time, I lingered at Matt’s stand, thinking. He handed me a sprig with a smile in his eye, and I popped it in my mouth, flowers and all. In a few seconds, my eyes smiled back, and I decided that these would be the greens I’d use in my CSC cooking class the next day, a beautiful change from the usual kale or spinach. In class we talked about the fun of exploring the farmer’s market and having the confidence to veer from our “shopping list”.
You can’t buy Matt’s pea shoots at the market any longer, they have matured into field peas that nourish the soil at Three Fiddles Farm. But don’t be sad – there is always something new to discover as the weeks roll by. Days of light and dark, sun and rain, fruits and veggies growing in the soil, picked by farmers’ hands the same day they get laid out on stands at the market. We’ll have to wait until next year for pea shoots, but I’m sure there will be other surprises as the summer season progresses. At Matt & Karin’s this week: crisp and sweet sugar snap peas, a crop he grows for the crisp and sweet pod, not shoots. Funny how that works. Field peas produce yummy shoots, and peas farmers dry for soups and animal feed, whereas snap peas have bitter shoots that mature to crisp, sweet pods.