Sautéed Pea Tendrils with Garlic Scapes
By Charlie Burke

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With farmers’ markets and farm stands open throughout northern New England,
it is fun to see what new varieties of vegetables appear and to find ways of
preparing them. This week’s recipe, though, brings us familiar flavors from
unusual sources.

Pea tendrils, the tender tips of pea plants often including blossoms, taste
similar to peas, both raw and cooked. Commonly used in Asian cooking, they
have found their way into some restaurants but still cause comments when
presented. They make great additions to salads and can be quickly sautéed for a
fresh taste of spring to add to any meal where peas are appropriate. When
buying them, look for bright green color, avoiding those with browned leaves or
tips. Stems should be soft to the touch.

Garlic scapes are the seed pods of garlic plants (see photo, below)

In New England, most garlic grown is hard neck garlic from the cold climates of
northern Europe. The bulbs are harvested in August, but in July stems rise from
the center of the leaves, each bearing a pod of seeds, with the stem continuing
beyond the pod and tapering to a point. Some make a graceful loop and bob in
the wind like a graceful bird, while others make double coils, resulting in rows
of interesting geometric designs. When they first emerge, they are tender and
the entire stem can be eaten. As they mature, the lower ends become woody,
and only the tender ends are used. They taste of garlic, but are milder than the
cloves. Garlic scapes can be chopped and added to salads, added to soups and
used wherever garlic cloves are used. I like to sauté them to use as a side dish
or to mix with potatoes or other vegetables. As is often the case with vegetables
which appear at the same time, the mild garlic flavor of these scapes blends
perfectly with the sweet “green” taste of fresh pea tendrils.

The most difficult part of this recipe may very well be finding both of these
together, but either will be a fresh new taste alone. We’ve been enjoying the pea
tendrils alone for over a month, well before the scapes emerged.

Four servings:

8 cups of pea tendrils, washed and roughly chopped
1 ½ - 2 cups tender ends of garlic scapes, excluding the seed pod, cut into 1/8
inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil
Kosher or sea salt to taste and freshly ground pepper

Heat a heavy sauté pan over medium – high heat. Add oil or butter (or a
mixture of the two), add scapes and sprinkle lightly with salt. Cook, stirring,
until scapes are bright green and slightly softened. Add chopped tendrils and
cook until they are just wilted. Add further salt and ground pepper to taste.

This quick sauté will add to any meal, so check out your local farmers’ market
or farm stand and give these great crops a try.

About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice
president of the
New Hampshire Farmer'sMarket Association, president of the NH Farm
to Restaurant Connection and helps run the Sanbornton (NH) Farmers' Market.  Along
with his wife, Joanne, Charlie grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather
Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.  
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