Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Second Harvest of the Season: Pea Shoots...and planting blueberries

Linguine is one of my favourite pasta shapes as I regard it as spaghetti trying to become a noodle, that is, a Goldilocks shape, not too narrow, nor too flat. Since there are pea shoots coming up nicely in the potager, I added their pretty tendrils, succulent leaves, and juicy stems to my basic linguine sauce of capers, parsley, garlic, and Parmesan.

Pea shoots have long been enjoyed in Asiatic cuisine and are becoming popular outside that region.  They turn a dark green when cooked, adding a fresh, light pea taste along with a vibrancy only greens can give. Pea shoots are delicious raw too, making great salads.

When bush pea plants are about a foot high and before they flower, pinch off about four to five inches of top growth including the tendrils, some partially opened leaf growth, a tender full leaf and the stem below it.  I take just one pinching from each plant.  Peas shoots are so good that late summer I will sow some peas in a large pot just for shoots so I can keep pinching them off since they will not be grown for peas also. Additionally, peas can be sowed thickly so when thinning, you will be harvesting pea shoots at the same time.

Gather the ingredients: for one serving, about an inch-in-diameter of linguine, about five or six pea shoots, a tablespoon of capers, a tablespoon of fresh, flat-leaf parsley, a tablespoon or two of extra-virgin olive oil, table salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, a sprinkle or two of fleur de sel, and several tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan.

Cook the linguine in boiling water for about eight minutes and drain, reserving several tablespoons of the pasta water. Using the same pot, warm the olive oil on low heat and add the minced garlic and the washed pea shoots.  Stir and cook gently for about seven minutes or until the shoots are wilted, dark green, and tender.

Add the reserved pasta water, a tablespoon of capers, and a tablespoon of minced parsley. Toss the linguine in this sauce and simmer for about a minute or until most of the pasta water is gone. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Top with freshly grated Parmesan and fleur de selThough pricey, fleur de sel lasts a long time and is an indispensable addition after cooking or on raw foods when using fresh, simple ingredients. It taste-enhancing edge is lost when heated.

Though not quite a noodle, linguine encourages slurping, and this version particularly triggered noisy enjoyment.

Peas being a cool-weather crop are always a challenge for me to grow as early spring sometimes can be non-existent in the southwest of France with late winter becoming summer without a significant transition.

Happily the first pea flower opened, signifying pea pods will develop before June.

About a month after sowing bush peas, I fertilized the young plants with an organic, NPK balanced product.

Sprinkle fertilizer per packet's instructions, scratch in, and water well

When the plants started to sprawl, I strategically placed twigs to help support their growth.  Though the variety is bushy and not a vine, I have found out if the weather turns inclement with strong winds and rain, the small bushes get entangled, making harvesting difficult.

Weeded, fertilized, watered, twigged, and mulched bush pea bed!

Each spring I try to add some new plants to the potager.  This time, they are asparagus, early season/new potatoes, and blueberry bushes.  As blueberries require a very acid soil of about 4.5 pH and my soil is neutral with a pH of 7, I filled up a large planter with a potting mix for acid-loving plants.

At least two plants are needed to encourage fruiting

If the plant is root bound with roots coming out the bottom holes, then submerge the pot in a pail of water until it gets saturated. After tapping around the pot and on its bottom, I place the plant's main stem between two spread-out fingers while easing the blueberries out of their containers.

I always looks for slug eggs which resemble tiny beige pearls and squash them between my fingers.

There were quite a lot of slug eggs in one plant

I gently roughed the root ball all around with my fingers, so the roots would be encouraged to explore their new home.

To serve both as a mulch and as deterrent from cats digging pit stops in my lovely planter, I placed cardboard on the surface after watering the plants well.

Cardboard mulch weighted down with fragments of ever useful terracotta roofing tiles.

On the left, the strawberry beds are in full flower meaning strawberry harvesting is getting closer.

Various seedlings started indoors about six weeks ago are getting to close to being transplanted into their beds.

For a brief period, of about a week, lilies of the valley reign in the flower garden.

Dayo unfortunately has been unable to keep me company in the garden as he injured his back, right paw.  He needs to stay in for a few more days and on his regimen of medicines.

The fence separating our garden from Monsieur and Madame Ms is most likely the culprit.  Dayo scampers over it many times daily.      

À la prochaine!


Basic linguine sauce with roasted garlic paste
Sowing peas
Sowing indoors
Gruyere & pea shoots omellete


More information on growing and harvesting pea shoots by Willi Galloway at digginfood