Owing to the late/cold spring, there hasn’t had much of a salad crop yet. Last week was the first time when I could actually make a lunch based on salad leaves. The roll call was as follows: rocket, chive flowers, Welsh onion, flat leaved parsley, pea shoots and mizuna. I added some ham and Roquefort, plus a dash of mayonnaise – it made a nice and civilised lunch!
|I was reading a magazine the other day and its cookery section extolled the virtue of something called Steve’s Leaves, bags of ready-to-eat loose leaf salad which you can buy on Ocado apparently. I was curious to know exactly what was in the bags so I duly headed to Ocado and found that it consisted of 60 g of pea shoots, baby spinach and baby chard. For £1.35. Given that I’ve been picking the equivalent of this at least every other day for well over a month, I feel quite smug! Pictured right is Lottie and a bowl of baby chard, parsley, oak leaf lettuce, rocket, pea shoots, Welsh onion, baby spring onions, red mustard leaves and chive flowers. BTW, the red mustard is starting to bolt so in future I shall be sowing it half a packet at a time rather than using a whole packet all in one go.|
As you can see below, the giant red mustard that I planted in early April is now coming along nicely – it’s already featured in several of my stir fries and mixed salad lunches. As the plants grow bigger, I just keep on thinning them out and when they no longer need thinning, I’ll just treat them as you would any cut & come again salad crop. Next to the giant red mustard is a container full of pea shoots, grown from a handful of Morrison’s dried peas which cost all of about 40p! Tip: if using pea shoots in stir fries, don’t fry them (it makes them go all fibrous and lose their lovely delicate flavour) – just cut them up raw with some spring onions, and sprinkle on top.
Last year I tried to grow mange-tout peas in one of our raised beds and it was a complete washout. There really wasn’t enough room to grow the number of plants needed for a decent crop of peas, and the dreaded snails had their fill of the tender leaves before they really had a chance to get established. From half a dozen plants, I must have managed to harvest twelve or so mange-touts.
Then this year, I had a lightbulb moment – thanks to watching Alys Fowler in her BBC TV series The Edible Garden. She suggested growing pea plants for their shoots, rather than for peas. Plant peas close together in a container (six inches of compost is plenty), then put them in a reasonably snail-free environment. When the plants are a few inches high, just cut off the tops, from the tendrils down to below the first set of leaves below them. Eat cold in salads. Yum, yum.