Harvest of the Month: Pea shoots

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Courtesy of Island Grown Schools

Growing pea shoots on a sunny windowsill in February is the greatest antidote to chilly, snowy days. In defiance of the bitter cold, round little pea seeds send their white roots down into the soil, then shoot up into the air with a green stem and lush leaves. In less than two weeks you are rewarded with a sweet and tender pea shoot, to be eaten in salads, stuffed into sandwiches, or puréed into pesto.

Luckily for us, Martha’s Vineyard Organics, based in Oak Bluffs, grows pea shoots year-round in its greenhouses, and sells them at Cronig’s Market and Stop and Shop. They’re full of vitamins and antioxidants that support the immune system; try picking some up the next time you are at the grocery store.

We call pea shoots the “gateway vegetable,” because when we grow them in the classroom, children just eat them by the fistful until green juice is running down their faces. Try making this pea-shoot version of pesto, which is another kid-approved way to enjoy this delicious green!

Pea Shoot Pesto

Ingredients:

4 cups pea shoots
1 clove garlic, minced
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup olive oil

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor.

Serve with pasta, as a sandwich spread, or on crackers with cheese.

Emily Armstrong is the preschool coordinator for Island Grown Schools, the Vineyard’s farm-to-school nonprofit. For more information, visit islandgrownschools.org.