Foraged Wild Peas
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Wild peas are a climbing vine with small ovate leaves and vibrant magenta, red or purple flowers. Their pale green stems have a flat shape with ribbon-like “wings” on each side and coiled tendrils at the ends. Wild pea plants are entirely edible. The flowers and young tendrils have a sweet grassy vegetal flavor. Wild pea pods are slightly more fibrous than commercial sugar snap or snow peas, but the interior fruits are very comparable when eaten fresh or dried.
Wild peas bloom in spring with pods ripening in summer.
Wild peas are a trailing herbaceous perennial botanically named Lathyrus vestitus. Most species in the Lathyrus genus are edible but excessive consumption of the chickling vetch, also known as or cicerchia bean or grass pea, can cause paralysis. When properly identified, foraged Wild peas are completely safe in a varied diet.
Wild peas are a good source of B-complex vitamins, beta carotene and protein.
Wild peas may be used in place of conventional peas for most recipes. The bright flowers make a vivid garnish to both sweet and savory dishes. Young shoots and leaves may be lightly sautéed or used raw in salads. The pods should be blanched if used whole, but the shelled peas may be freshly prepared or dried like a bean. The slightly sweet flavor of peas pairs well with mint, carrots, cream, salty cheeses, morel mushrooms, ham and shellfish.
The Miwok and Yokuts tribes of the Central Valley relied on Wild peas in their diets.
The pea family has 600 genera with 190 species in the Lathyrus genus alone. Origins of the Wild pea are traced to Eurasia and the United States. Today they grow worldwide in woodlands, chaparral and scrub habitats.
Recipes that include Foraged Wild Peas. One is easiest, three is harder.
|The Heart of New England||Sautéed Pea Tendrils with Garlic Scapes|
|Indian Kitchen: filled with spices and love||Peas, Carrot and Beans Poriyal|
|What's Gaby Cooking||Spring Pea Farro Salad|