Petits Pois A La Francaise
(A French Classic)
We love peas. It’s that simple. They were Elizabeth’s Father’s favorite vegetable so they were on the table frequently while she was growing up. Unfortunately they were cooked by her Mother who believed that food should be thoroughly and completely cooked so Elizabeth was a teenager before she realized that vegetables weren’t meant to be uniformly gray (She’s a little slow on the uptake sometimes). Once discovered, however, a new world opened up for her, and she learned peas were pretty tasty and they remain a favorite. But who wants plain old boring peas day in and day out. Try something a little new and different, or actually quite old and different. The French have cooked peas with lettuce, pearl onions, and thyme for who knows how long. This method of cooking turns simple, plain old peas into a dish worthy of guests or even relatives for that matter. The really nice thing about the recipe is its ease of preparation. No rare ingredients, no rich sauces, no knife skills. If you can open a bag of frozen peas and a bag of frozen pearl onions, and shred some lettuce you have it made. Give the Petit Pois a try. You’ll like them.
2 Tablespoons butter
2 pounds petite frozen peas
1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
12 to 16 frozen pearl onions
2 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh parsley
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper (you can use black as well)
Water as needed (or if you have a little bit of leftover stock you can use that)
Gently heat the butter until melted in a large sauce pan then add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes until beginning to soften. Add the lettuce and when it is wilted add the sugar, peas, thyme, salt and pepper. Cover and allow to simmer for 5 to 8 minutes until peas are tender, be careful not to overcook; you want the peas and onions soft and tender but not mushy. The lettuce should give off enough liquid to cook the peas but check to make sure they aren’t drying out, and add a teaspoon water or stock occasionally if needed. Stir gently and serve. Some people like to add a strip of chopped bacon or pancetta to the butter and let it cook until the bacon is cooked through then add the onions and go on from there. I am personally of the opinion that bacon makes anything better so you might want to give it a try.
The peas are pretty on your plate or platter and are great with a roast chicken or beef or lamb. We like them with almost anything for that matter.