Pea Tendril Blossoms
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The pea plant is a climbing vine that can reach heights of 2 meters. It has round hollow stems with thin coiled tendrils that allow it to climb in a trellising fashion. Leaves are a soft green with pale yellow veins and a subtly lobed round shape. They sprout along the vine in symmetrical pairs at the site of each blossom. The pea tendril flower is white, pink or purple and is surrounded by five pale green sepals fused at its base. The distinctive petal arrangement is likened to the "banner, wings, and keel" of a boat. Pea tendril blossoms have a mildly grassy aroma and the same sweet vegetal flavor of a pea.
Pea tendril blossoms are available in the cool seasons, late winter into early summer and again in the fall.
Botanically known as Pisum sativum, peas are an herbaceous annual in the Fabaceae family. The blossoms, tendrils, leaves and pods are all edible and especially tender when young. The common pea should not to be confused with the sweet pea of the Lathyrus genus which is mildly toxic. Sweet peas are grown for their decorative fragrant blossoms, and if consumed in large quantities may cause paralysis known as lathyrism. They do not share the same pea-like flavor as the common pea and their perfumed scent is not appropriate for culinary applications, but rather for bouquets and flower gardens.
Pea tendril blossoms may accompany any dish that feature peas. The petals are fragile and best eaten raw or lightly sautéed with the young stems, pods and leaves. Their fresh sweet flavor balances salty cheeses and accentuates the natural sweetness of shellfish. They also lift the earthy quality of hearty root vegetables. Pea tendril blossoms pair with carrots, potatoes, shallots, mushrooms (especially morels), bacon, lobster, cream, mascarpone, ricotta, butter, basil and mint.
The common pea blossom was pivotal in early geneticist Gregor Mendel’s experimentation. He selectively cross-bred the various colored blossoms and in observing the outcomes developed the principles of dominant and recessive genes we know today.
Peas are an ancient plant dating back to around 7000 BC. They are native to southwestern Asia near present day Afghanistan and Pakistan. Today they are a major crop in China, India, Canada, Russia, France and the United States. Peas are a cool weather plant that thrive in relatively humid climates and loamy soils. They mature quickly and may be sown in the cool seasons of both spring and fall for two harvests in one year.
Recipes that include Pea Tendril Blossoms. One is easiest, three is harder.
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