We are still weeks away from a torrent of peas, fava beans, beets and other vegetables coming off the area farms to your local farmers markets, but those plants are well on their way to maturity at this point. Most farmers patiently wait to harvest the fruit of these plants at their peak of perfection, although some like John Gorzynski bring into their stands the actual plants for consumption. These edible leaves and shoots are tender parts of the plant and make a delicious addition to salads as well as shine standing on their own after a light wilt in the sauté pan.

While not possessing the full favor punch of their final bloom, the delicacy of their essence is a welcome addition to the arsenal of a cook.

Gothamist picked up fava bean leaves and pea shoots this past Saturday with the intention of rounding out the baby lettuce mix in the first batch of our brown bag summer lunch salads at work this week.

For salads:
Use a less bitter selection of lettuce to round out the salad and then a basic vinaigrette so as not to overwhelm the whispered flavors. Wash the leaves and shoots, discarding all stems.

Basic Vinaigrette

- 2 tablespoons minced shallot – baby spring shallots are preferable in spring
- Scant ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- ½ tablespoon sea salt – fleur de sel or Maldon
- ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons light flavored oil – canola, light olive or grapeseed are good choices

Add all ingredients except oil to a medium bowl that you are comfortable whisking with. Mix thoroughly, then whisk the oils in slowly to emulsify.

For a cooked dish:
We like to serve leaves and shoots with simply cooked white-fleshed fish or shrimp. You might also use chicken or let them shine on their own.

- Wash all leaves and shoots, spin dry or use paper towels.
- Heat a neutral oil or butter over medium heat, then add leaves or shoots and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Wilt turning regularly and remove from the stove.