At least the question isn't "should I eat it?".
December 15, 2009 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Name that veg: what is this green, vine-y vegetable/lettuce/herb thing that showed up in my CSA box this week?

I live in San Francisco and get deliveries from Farm Fresh to You, but this week there was a mix-up and I got our neighbor's box, not mine. Said neighbor has "exceptions" in her box (disliked fruit/veg that is replaced by other veg) so this unidentified item replaced bok choy. But the folks at Farm Fresh to You couldn't identify it. Please help?

I'm sure the pictures above are more useful, but here's some other info:
-It's possibly seasonal (December) to Northern CA, but the only CUESA-listed item that seemed close was "cress". The company occasionally includes produce from neighboring states.
-I tasted it, it tastes nondescript.
-My cat sniffed and nibbled on it a few times. She doesn't care about vegetables normally, just herbs (and grass.)
-The Farm Fresh employee on the phone thinks it is broccoli raab, but there's no florets, it doesn't taste bitter like normal broccoli raab, and the stems are hollow. And there are those weird vines that almost look like grape vines.
-Nothing on the Farm Fresh list of "exceptions" shipped this week matched this description.
-The vines are the predominant feature, and there's some tiny yellow flowers in there too.

Thank you!
posted by soleiluna to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Looks like snowpea leaves. Here's a recipe.
posted by jamaro at 12:57 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

They're also called pea tendrils, if that helps. I like them in stir-fries.
posted by acridrabbit at 12:58 PM on December 15, 2009

They look like pea shoots to me.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 12:58 PM on December 15, 2009

pea tendrils?
posted by peachfuzz at 12:58 PM on December 15, 2009

Response by poster: Wonderful! They do indeed appear to be pea tendrils. Thank you, all!
posted by soleiluna at 1:00 PM on December 15, 2009

Aha -- pea shoots!

(On preview: curses!)
posted by maudlin at 1:02 PM on December 15, 2009

The tendrils are weird but the leaves and (potentially yellow?) flowers look like baby choy sum. It doesn't have much flavour but is lovely quickly fried with some garlic and ginger and sesame oil.

If it's not this one another type pf chinese greens would make sense given it's replacing bok choy.
posted by shelleycat at 1:04 PM on December 15, 2009

Ah! Too Slow! Pea shoot explains the weird tendrils. And sound yummy!
posted by shelleycat at 1:05 PM on December 15, 2009

I dunno...they look too big to be pea shoots to me. I'd vote for chayote greens.
posted by neroli at 1:21 PM on December 15, 2009

More chayote green info.
posted by neroli at 1:26 PM on December 15, 2009

Wait wait wait... does choy sum turn really dark green if it's stir fried? I've been trying to narrow down this one veg we used to get in Boston's Chinatown all the time on the dim sum cart and that might just be it. METAFILTER IS AWESOME!
posted by at 1:32 PM on December 15, 2009

One of the most expensive dishes at the local South Asian restaurant is a simple pea-shoot stir-fry. No meat or noodles or other veg, just the pea shoots and seasoning. I haven't tried it, but it apparently it's the house specialty.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:33 PM on December 15, 2009

does choy sum turn really dark green if it's stir fried?

In my experience yes.
posted by shelleycat at 1:45 PM on December 15, 2009

I'm sticking to my guns: that is dragon whisker vegetable or chayote shoots.
posted by neroli at 1:54 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm just here to back up neroli. Way too big to be pea shoots. Also, the leaves are a subtly different shape. I also vote for chayote shoots.
posted by amelioration at 2:12 PM on December 15, 2009

Response by poster: Ooh, interesting. Chayote greens seem to be a possibility as well, at least after looking at some pictures. I'm inclined to think it's not baby choy sum, since the pictures I'm finding don't have the tangle of tendrils. Time for more Googling...
posted by soleiluna at 2:15 PM on December 15, 2009

Another vote for too-big for pea shoots. Also, you say they taste nondescript, and in my experience, pea shoots taste unmistakably like peas.
posted by Westringia F. at 2:47 PM on December 15, 2009

Response by poster: I've just rinsed them and started to prep them for sauteeing, and the leaf shape doesn't seem to match what I've googled for pea shoots or chayote greens. The bottom half has saw-toothed shape along the outer edge of the leaves, while the top half has a straight edge.
posted by soleiluna at 2:53 PM on December 15, 2009

Response by poster: Another question - if these are chayote shoots, do I eat the vinelike part? I'd started trimming it off, per the pea shoot recipes, but I just found a photo that looks like the chayote shoots had been sauteed with the vinelike bits.
posted by soleiluna at 2:57 PM on December 15, 2009

Pea shoots, without a doubt. The leaves, tendrils, and flowers all look like peas (and look different from chayote greens). I'm not sure why anyone would think these are too big to be pea shoots. I'd also agree that the taste of pea shoots is fairly nondescript.
posted by ssg at 3:15 PM on December 15, 2009

Just found a very cool resource that has photos of a lot of these plants, FYI:
posted by at 3:48 PM on December 15, 2009

Another vote for pea shoots. (It's the flowers that clinch it for me — to my eye those are clearly pea flowers.)

Oh, and here's a photo of identified pea shoots. They look identical.
posted by Lexica at 6:39 PM on December 15, 2009

Regarding whether it is Chayote greens or Pea greens

Here's what chayote blossoms look like. It's a Cucurbitaceae, same family as squash, melons and cukes. Note the typical squash blossom look of the flowers, with 5 equally sized/shaped petals distributed around the carpel and the tiny sepal (the sepal is the green leafy part between the flower's stem and the flower petals).

Here's what pea flowers look like. Note the irregularly shaped petals (peas also have 5 petals but they appear in 3 forms: 2 wings, 2 cojoined keels and 1 standard) and the very large sepal which folds over the petals.

The flower buds shown in the bottom in your pic are not squash blossoms.

So, was it tasty?
posted by jamaro at 9:08 AM on December 16, 2009

It's definitely not chayote. Chayote leaves have petioles attaching them to the main stems; they are not directly attached (sessile) like pea plant leaves are. Those are pea shoots.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:51 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

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