What’s cooking today: Braised lettuce and peas

A fillet of Norwegian salmon sits atop braised lettuce and peas, the last being the subject of this recipe. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

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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