What’s cooking today: Braised lettuce and peas
Does lettuce even need to be raw? In France it is the hero, along with peas, of a true classic.
Simple as it is, braised lettuce and young peas, or petit pois à la Française, is a class act and admired by chefs and gourmands everywhere.
Braised lettuce and peas
(Petit pois à la Française)
I used iceberg lettuce although many recipes call for baby gems. Ignore the outer leaves; it’s the inner, crisper hearts of an iceberg that you need.
This recipe accompanies this column.
1 heart of iceberg lettuce
1 medium onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Tbsp butter
200 ml vegetable stock
Zest of 1 lemon
3 generous sprigs of mint
60 ml cream
500 g frozen peas
Salt and white pepper to taste
By heart of iceberg lettuce I mean the core, central part, with the choke cut out and discarded. Then slice them into quarters or sixths. Keep 1 mint sprig aside for garnish.
Put the peas in a saucepan with 2 mint sprigs, cover with cold water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 3 minutes. Pour into a colander and refresh under cold running water, and keep aside, discarding the sprigs.
Remove the large outer leaves of the lettuce and keep them in the crisper for a salad.
Sauté the sliced onion with the chopped garlic in butter until translucent.
Place the lettuce heart sections on top of the braised onions.
Cook on the first side for barely a minute, then turn and cook for half a minute.
Pour the stock over, season with salt and white pepper, cover, and cook gently for 10 minutes.
Remove the lettuce to a colander and leave to drain.
Cook the juices in the pan on a brisk heat until reduced by half. Add the cream and lemon zest and cook on a gentle heat until the sauce thickens. Stir in the peas.
You now have a creamy pea sauce and all that remains is to plate the lettuce and pour the peas and sauce over. If cooking a Norwegian salmon fillet, as I did, fry it in butter and a little olive oil before you complete the peas and sauce and serve the fish on top of the braised lettuce and peas. Garnish with mint.
For a variation, you could add cubes of cooked bacon or pancetta or chorizo. DM/TGIFood
Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion of the Year 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is now available in the DM Shop. Buy it here.
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