On an unusually sunny and hot day in Chicago, I met a girlfriend for lunch at the beloved Cafe Spiaggia. Appropriately I ordered the perfect springtime lunch: pea tendrils, English peas, pea shoots, and watercress in a lemon mint vinaigrette and asparagus soup with crescenza cheese and shaved parmigiano reggiano. So fresh and delicious!
It was my first time having fresh pea tendrils as I previously only had them sautéed in butter and garlic as a side dish. I loved the tenderness of the tendrils and the distinctively sweet pea flavor.
During a recent visit to Green City Farmer's Market, I was extremely excited to come across pea tendrils and pea shoots. I knew at once I had to recreate the pea salad from Cafe Spiaggia (and the asparagus soup too, but I will save that for a later post).
Naturally I bought way too much at the farmer's market and just had to throw an impromptu dinner party. The next several posts will be based on the dinner menu:
pea tendrils, English peas, pea shoots, and watercress in a meyer lemon mint vinaigrette
breakfast radishes with bagna cauda and crusty bread
orecchiette with Swiss chard, arugula, and mascarpone in a green garlic white wine sauce
rhubarb crisp with orange zest
Pea Tendrils, English Peas, Watercress Salad1 bunch pea tendrils
8 oz English peas
1 bunch watercress
1 Meyer lemon, juiced
1 tsp zest of Meyer lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp mint leaves, chiffonade
freshly ground black pepper
Use pea tendrils and pea shoots within a few days of purchasing as they lose their sweetness and toughen quickly. Refrigerate the tendrils and shoots in a plastic bag and be sure not to crush the bag. Discard the thick, larger stems of the pea tendrils and use only tender parts.
In a small bowl, add juice of one Meyer lemon and its zest. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
Shell the peas. Bring water to a bowl in a small saucepan. Add peas, cook for 2 minutes. Remove peas with a slotted spoon and plunge into an ice bath until cooled. Drain and set aside.
Remove thick stalks of watercress, reserving the leaves and flowers.
In a large bowl, combine pea tendrils, pea shoots, watercress, and English peas. Toss gently with lemon vinaigrette and mint just before serving. Use a vegetable peeler, shave pecorino romano on top. Serve immediately.