Years ago, I came across a passage in one of MFK Fisher's books where she lovingly writes about swirling butter and fresh lettuce in a pot, pouring in just-shucked baby peas, slamming on the lid, and then scooping out the results. Her love for the dish intrigued me, and I've never seen it served anywhere.
I had picked peas to start off our Sunday Slow Sides group, as peas are traditional in New England for the Fourth of July to go alongside salmon. So, it seemed fitting to finally try Petits Pois a la Francaise.
I still had a good bit of our CSA bounty in the fridge, including beautiful lettuce, spinach, and peas in the pod. I looked at some online recipes, cut out most of the butter, decided to supplement the lettuce with spinach, and came up with this. It was delicious, light and rich at the same time. Nice springtime side dish. I think it would also be a lovely topping for pasta with some fresh chevre; or stirred into brown rice with some sauteed mushrooms and a bit of yogurt or sour cream.
Petits Pois a la Francaise
Measurements are estimates, use what you have--all lettuce, all spinach, or a combination. This made four servings.
If you're not watching your weight, feel free to add more butter!
2 shallots, sliced
2 tsp. unsalted butter
1 head lettuce, carefully washed and roughly chopped
6 cups spinach, washed and roughly chopped
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 cups fresh shelled peas; or frozen peas, slightly defrosted
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. chopped mint
1. In a large skillet, melt the butter and saute the shallots until soft.
2. Add the lettuce and spinach. Saute until almost wilted.
You may need to do this in batches--just add it all together when the batches are cooked down.
4. Add the broth and peas, and slam on the cover. Cook until the peas are just tender--2 minutes or so. (less if using frozen peas)
5. Add salt and pepper to taste, and the chopped mint. Stir well and serve.