Fresh Spring Peas with Butter-Lettuce and Dill
Peas are considered “common” because they are so easily available frozen but really, fresh peas in the spring is a special treat that shouldn’t be overlooked. If you go to the market, pick up fresh peas in their pods and shell them yourself. You will be rewarded with a special spring culinary experience. I anticipate their arrival at the market and shell them happily all through spring and summer until the last of the peas leave our markets and we say the king is dead, long live the king, and anticipate the arrival of early fall produce to enjoy. Peas are versatile and can be made into hot and chilled soups, dips, added to grains and served on their own in several different ways. This recipe is for simply cooked peas to which I add ribbons of butter lettuce, butter and dill. I serve it on its own with good crusty bread, over grilled bread, or alongside other foods. I have seen variations of this recipe and it is a dish that is quite common in French country cooking. If you would like to see some variations look here:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallots, peeled and cut into rings
2 cups freshly shelled peas
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 small head butter lettuce, leaves cut into chunky ribbons, not too small.
A handful fresh dill, chopped
Salt and pepper
A handful of micro-greens for garnish
Melt the butter in a medium sized skillet. Add the shallot rings and cook a couple of minutes until softened but not browned.
Add the peas and cook until they glisten with the butter.
Add the stock and cook another minute or so, until the peas are almost done to your liking. This should not take too long if the peas are nice and fresh.
Now add the lettuce and cook, stirring, until the lettuce wilts and the liquids evaporated. There should just be a nice buttery glaze over everything. You can cover the skillet for a short while to speed up the cooking but be careful not to keep it covered for too long because the greens may turn yellow (there is some acid build-up when it is covered). If everything seems cooked before the stock has evaporated you can remove the peas and lettuce out of the skillet and continue to cook the butter and stock to a glaze, then pour it over the peas.
Add salt and pepper to taste and add the dill. Stir gently to mix. Serve immediately, sprinkled with a handful of micro greens.