Pea Greens and Russian Blues (Green City Market, May 21)


Sabasalads didn’t emerge this morning until 11:00, thanks in part to a batch of Vermontucky Lemonade we had last night. So, by the time we rolled up to Green City Market, most of the produce had already disappeared. Luckily, Three Sisters Garden still had some pea greens left.

Pea greens are just the viny-parts of pea plants that have been chopped off. Their small, tender leaves have an almost savory flavor that make wonderful additions to salads, or can simply be stir-fried with lots of garlic in sesame oil. You’ll see the latter on the menu at many restaurants in Chicago’s Chinatown (skip the bok choy next time and ask for these), and you can buy the greens by the bundle in most Chinese supermarkets in Chicago.

To prepare them yourself, simply cut them up with kitchen scissors into manageable sizes and sauté them in either olive oil or sesame oil just until they wilt. Serve them immediately so that they don’t go cold and bitter.

Sabasalads incorporated these into an omelet with some fresh mozzarella cheese. Along with some Russian Blue potatoes from Nichols Farm that we’d picked up, this made an excellent and easy breakfast.

  1. I cannot impress on the reader the import of eating these greens quickly when sauteed in oil of sesame with garlic. A delicious way of consuming them to be sure, but fraught with peril – if the diner enjoys for a moment to long the fragrant steam wafting into her nostrils and allows the inner greens to overcook, beware. Instead of slightly crunchy garlic laced sweetness, the diner’s palate will be met with the tragedy of wilted, bitter death. This is why they are typically served with all at the table simultaneously intoning the traditional chant: “Don’t let them cook themselves!!!” which initiates a flurry of activity as they climbing frantically over one another to snag a untainted bite. The injury of a chopstick through the hand is unsightly but temporary, but the taste of the overcooked green lingers long after the red bean dessert soup and oranges, burned into one’s taste memory for years to come.

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