I have been missing tender and flavourful little salad greens. I eat pre-washed baby spinach and arugula, which can be acquired year round. I find pre-washed baby greens so damn convenient that I cannot resist using them, but the truth is that they don’t have as much flavour as nice local salad greens that were picked not too long ago. Sadly, it is February and I live in New York City, so I’ve got a while to go before I can nibble on a head of local lettuce like a bunny rabbit. Lucky for me, and my cravings, there are pea shoots and sunflower sprouts. I know, I know, I have made a big deal about the fact that I don’t eat sprouts. It is true that I feel those of us who were raised by vegetarians in the 70’s should never, ever have to eat sprouts again if we do not wish to. The truth is though, I like sunflower sprouts! Sunflower sprouts are nutty and sweet and substantial!
And who could argue with pea shoots? Peas are sweet and delicious, but unless you grow them yourself and pop them into your mouth straight from the pod, they are dry and tasteless if “fresh” or mushy from being frozen. Pea shoots travel much better to my salad plate. Side note- I have no problem with frozen peas in cooked food, but they obviously won’t do in a salad. Another side note- Did you know that pea shoots and the tendrils from flowering sweet pea look almost exactly the same? It’s only important because sweet pea tendrils are poisonous…but if you grow both of them in your garden it is a good thing to be aware of!
We have been eating this salad of pea shoots and sunflower sprouts in a lemony dressing and roasted squash and hazelnuts and it is really hitting the spot. I have been serving it with the various home-made soups that I have in my freezer and it seems to go well with everything. I have also been taking it to school as a packed lunch.
PEA SHOOT, SUNFLOWER SPROUT AND ROASTED SQUASH SALAD
- 1 small butternut squash
- some olive oil, salt and pepper to roasted the squash in
- A handful of rinsed pea shoots
- A handful of rinsed sunflower sprouts
- The juice of one lemon
- A splash of olive oil
- a smaller splash of maple syrup
- salt and pepper
- A handful of hazelnuts (if you wanted to get fancy you could roast and/or chop them. We’ve been using raw)
- A few shaves of pecorino or parmesan cheese (some other hard aged cheese would work just as well)
- Pre-heat the oven to 400
- Peel, seed and slice the butternut squash into 1/4 inch thick half moons and circles. Toss the slices in a bit of olive oil and lay them in a single layer over one or two baking sheets. Season with salt and pepper and roast for about half an hour turning the slices half way through. The slices should be tender and have some dark golden colour.
- Toss the shoots and sprouts with a salad dressing made from lemon juice, olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper.
- Lay the some of the hot, warm or room temperature squash slices on top of the salad and garnish with hazelnuts and a few shaves of cheese.
- You will probably have leftover roasted squash, which will keep well in the fridge for a few days and allow you to eat this salad a few more times without any prep time!