Thursday, 18 February 2010

Discover: Asparagus Pea

One of our all time favourites. Small winged pods should be harvested when young, giving a superb flavour akin to Asparagus. The plant will crop all summer long if picked regularly. They have brilliant scarlet flowers and need no staking, but the pods are well camouflages and 'hunt the pod' is a fun game for the children.

It has to be admitted - it's not asparagus and it's not a pea, but it's rather tasty! This unusual vegetable has a unique flavour, a bit like a cross between tender asparagus and fresh young peas.

It is very easy to grow and does not require any support. Asparagus Pea is a very pretty plant which looks as good in the flower border as it does in the vegetable plot.

The young seedpods can be used in the kitchen either raw or cooked. They can be added to salads, lightly steamed as a vegetable and served with a little melted butter, or added to soups, stews etc. The taste is said to resemble asparagus. Only the very young pods, when less than 2cm (1in) long, should be used, since the older pods quickly turn fibrous. No flavouring should be used as this will destroy its own delicious taste.

The seedpods of this vegetable are considered by many to be a gourmet food, though it is not a very high yielding crop. 

In addition, the seed can be cooked and used like peas. The roasted seed is said to be used as a coffee substitute, but we have no experience of that use.

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