What to Do with Pea Greens

By Cook's Illustrated Published May 2017

The best way to prepare pea greens.

Pea greens, also known as pea shoots or pea tendrils, are the tender tips of pea plants. You’ll find them during spring and early summer at farmers’ markets and some supermarkets. Both the rounded, bright green leaves and the thin, hollow stems topped with tendrils are edible, although the stems from older plants can be tough. We recommend discarding stems that are wider than ¼ inch in diameter (you can still eat the leaves).

Our tasters described the plain leaves and stems as grassy and faintly bitter—“like peas but not sweet.” When using them in a salad, we found it best to pair them with delicate vinaigrettes instead of rich and creamy dressings, which muted their flavor and weighed them down. They can also be substituted for basil to make a more delicate pesto. To highlight their savory flavor, you can sauté pea greens with minced garlic; cook them quickly (for about 2 minutes) to retain their bright color, and avoid overcooking them, which will cause the leaves to disintegrate.

RAW: Both the leaves and the stems of pea greens are edible. We recommend pairing the uncooked greens with a light vinaigrette so their delicate grassy flavor comes through.

COOKED: Lightly sauté the greens to highlight their savory flavor. They will wilt to about one-third of their uncooked volume.