Petits Pois

It’s time to eat your peas, Thomas Jefferson’s favorite vegetable. Jefferson wasn’t just a founding father of our nation, he was our founding foodie, according to Thomas Craughwell, who is giving a lecture on the topic at the Falmouth Museums on the Green this Wednesday, June 26 at 7 PM. (Call 508-548-4857 for more information.)

Indeed, Jefferson took James Hemmings, brother of Sally Hemmings, to Paris in the late 18thcentury to master the art of French cooking and bring its wonders home to Monticello in Virginia. Jefferson was an avid vegetable gardener. He especially loved his peas, and crispy lettuces. Did he enjoy petits pois in Paris, peas cooked the French way with spring onions and lettuce?  Well, you certainly can.

Petits Pois

  • 2 – 2 1/2  cups shelled peas
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 4 scallions or small spring onions
  • 2 small lettuce hearts
  • 6 Tbs. or so pea-pod broth (or vegetable/chicken stock)
  • A pinch of salt & sugar, to taste

This is a faster take on the classic dish (except for the shelling part) so the peas remain  a nice bright green.

Shell peas, putting peas in one bowl, shells in another. If you have time, make a quick pea-pod broth. Rinse shells and dump in a pot with enough boiling salted water to float them. Cover and simmer while you prep the rest of the vegetables.

Wash scallions or spring onions. Trim, keeping some of their green, and slit each scallion in half lengthways. Wash small lettuce hearts and carefully quarter them. Melt butter in a pan and cook scallions till starting to soften. Add lettuce quarters and stir them around in the butter for a few minutes until lettuce softens.

Stir in peas and pea-pod broth (just the liquid; discard pods) and bring to boil. Cook briskly, stirring, for 2 -3 minutes or until peas are just tender and glazed with a little buttery juice. Add more broth if the pan gets dry. Season with salt, and a pinch of sugar if you feel the peas need it.  Stir and serve right away.  Serves 4.

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