Q: What are pea shoots, and how nutritious are they?
A: They are the young, tender upper leaves, soft stems, and curly tendrils of pea plants (usually snow or snap peas) and are commonly used in Chinese and various other Asian cuisines. Called dou miao in Mandarin, they are eaten like other leafy greens—quickly sautéed or stir-fried (usually with garlic), steamed, or served raw in salads. They taste like a cross between baby spinach and peas and can be substituted for other soft leafy greens in recipes. You can often find them in Asian markets and increasingly in farmers’ markets—generally from late spring to early fall.
Nearly all leafy green vegetables are very nutritious and low in calories, and pea shoots are no exception. They’re a good source of beta carotene, vitamin C, folate, and fiber.
Pea shoots are also easy to grow indoors or outdoors, using almost any kind of peas, even dried ones (after a 24-hour soak). You can see instructions here.
See our recipe: Sautéed Greens.