Worried about the lack of availability of pea shoots? Don’t worry, there are plenty of vegetables that can act as a great substitute.
From broccoli rabe to snow peas, you will find the perfect replacement.
Read on to discover the top five substitutes for pea shoots.
What’s Pea Shoot?
Pea shoots, also known as pea tips or pea tendrils, are the tender new shoots of the pea plant.
They look like tendrils and have a delicate flavor reminiscent of peas, with a hint of sweetness.
Pea shoots are rich in antioxidants and vitamins A, C, K and B6.
They contain many essential minerals such as iron and magnesium.
Highly nutritious, they’re an excellent source of dietary fiber and protein.
Pea shoots are sold fresh or frozen in specialty stores such as Asian or Hispanic grocery stores or farmers markets year-round but are most available during the spring season when garden-grown peas come into season.
Fresh peas can be harvested throughout the growing season to make sure you always have plenty of flavorful pea shoots available.
Cooking with fresh pea shoots is easy; they can be stir-fried on their own with a little oil and garlic or added to soups and salads at the last minute to give them an extra burst of flavor.
They provide a great snacking option when cooked with other vegetables like mushrooms, red peppers or carrots for a quick side dish that’s both healthy and delicious.
Peas can also be steamed for about two minutes before being added to salads for a different texture as well as flavor boost.
5 Best Pea Shoots Substitutes to Consider
When substituting for pea shoots, it is important to choose fresh sprouts — these will have a similar texture to pea shoots without as much added starch or fiber.
Some of the best substitutes for pea shoots include broccoli sprouts, sunflower sprouts, watercress and arugula.
1 – Radish Greens
Radish greens are a popular and readily available substitute for pea shoots.
Similar in flavor to the pea shoots, radish greens offer a peppery sharpness that makes them an ideal topping for salads and spring rolls.
They also make a great addition to soups and stir fries.
When buying radish leaves from the store, look for leaves that are still quite green and have not wilted or discolored, as this will indicate that they are very fresh.
It’s best to use them as soon as possible after purchase for the best flavor.
The leaves can be washed, blanched, or cooked like other leafy greens.
They pair especially well with bolder flavors like garlic, ginger, and chili peppers.
2 – Sunflower Shoots
Sunflower shoots are a good substitute for pea shoots, as they have the same crunchy texture and slightly earthy flavor.
Sunflower shoots have high amounts of vitamin B6, vitamin E and iron which help to boost energy levels and protect the body from oxidative stress.
You can find them in health food stores, though you may need to make sure that they are organic and pesticide-free if that is important to you.
Sunflower shoots can be used as a garnish on salads or as a tasty addition to sandwiches.
3 – Spinach
Spinach has been winning fans for centuries, and its mild flavor and long shelf life make it an ideal substitute for pea shoots.
It is loaded with vitamin A, iron and calcium, but you may want to juice your spinach leaves to get the most nutrition out of them.
Try adding cooked spinach to a salad or sautéing it in olive oil with garlic and other vegetables or spices such as cayenne pepper or turmeric.
You can also add raw spinach to smoothies or the blender when making soups for a burst of added nutrition.
4 – Watercress
Watercress (or “peppergrass”), a leafy green herb, is the fourth-best substitute for pea shoots.
It has a mild flavor and a soft, tender texture that makes it a great addition to salads or as a replacement for lettuce in sandwiches.
Watercress can be found in many grocery stores and can also be grown at home with relative ease.
The nutrients in watercress include calcium, potassium and Vitamin C.
Additionally, it is known to contain compounds that may help fight cancer and heart disease–making it a worthwhile addition to any diet.
5 – Arugula
Arugula is a vibrant green, leafy vegetable with a peppery flavor and soft texture.
Often seen on salads and pizza, arugula may be the perfect answer to substitute for pea shoots.
As a traditional Mediterranean ingredient, it works well with your favorite grains, vegetables, and proteins as a side or base dish.
The flavor of arugula is similar to that of pea shoots but with an earthier finish.
Arugula can be found in major grocery stores and is easy to grow in the garden if you would like a home-grown source of this dynamic green.
Try using argulas as the main green for your next dish; you won’t regret it.
In conclusion, pea shoots are an ideal ingredient for any salad, stir-fry, soup or sandwich dish.
However, due to the seasonal availability of fresh pea shoots, it’s necessary to find reasonable alternatives in case one cannot find them.
Thankfully, there are several easy-to-find ingredients that can serve as suitable replacements for pea shoots.
Whether you choose snap peas, snow peas, celery root leaves, microgreens or radish sprouts — use your imagination and experiment with combinations that fit your tastes.
Carrie is a food writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience. She has worked for some of the biggest names in the food industry, including Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and Martha Stewart Living.
As the Editor in Chief of IntroChicago.com, Carrie oversees all of the content on the site. She also manages the team of contributing writers and editors, who help to create delicious recipes, helpful tips, and informative articles that you’ll find on the site.
A native of the Chicago area, Carrie is passionate about all things food. She loves trying new restaurants and experimenting with new recipes in her kitchen. She’s also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, so she knows a thing or two about food!