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Fresh Peas with Mint

Fresh Peas with Mint
To shell peas, hold a pod over a large bowl, squeeze the pod slightly to split it open, and then run your thumbnail down along the seam to pop out the peas, capturing them in the bowl. Shell peas just before cooking to prevent them from drying out. If fresh peas are not in the market, frozen petite peas are a good substitute and will cook in the same amount of time as young peas.

Ingredients:

  • 16 pearl onions
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 lb. English peas, shelled (about 2 cups)
  • 1 small head butter lettuce, leaves separated
     and coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh mint or pinch of dried mint,
     crumbled (see Note)

Directions:

Bring a saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pearl onions and blanch for 1 minute. Drain and immerse in cold water for 5 minutes to stop the cooking. Drain again and slip off the skins; they should come off easily. Using a paring knife, trim away the root and stem ends.

In a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat melt 2 Tbs. of the butter. Add the pearl onions and sauté until they are pale gold in spots and have softened slightly, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with about half of the sugar and mix well.

Add the peas, lettuce, parsley, mint and the remaining sugar. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Pour water into the pan to just cover the peas. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to very low, cover and simmer gently until the peas are tender, 5 to 8 minutes.

Drain and place in a warmed serving bowl. Add the remaining 2 Tbs. butter, toss to melt and coat evenly, and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Note: For this dish, use spearmint rather than peppermint, as the latter is too strongly flavored. Instead of the mint, you can use 1 to 2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil or additional flat-leaf parsley, or 1 tsp. each chopped fresh thyme and marjoram or summer savory.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Vegetable, by Marlena Spieler (Simon & Schuster, 2002).