Monday, January 12, 2015

French Peas

On a cold Sunday in Boston we wandered down  alleys, into our favorite used book stores, hot beverages in hand. I spied "The Constance Spry Cookery Book" sitting on a shelf.  This pink, circa 1956 British cookbook came home with me.

Constance starts her cookbook with a chapter called "The Cocktail Party." She writes that it may be "frivolous" to open with party fair, but she wanted a "light-hearted" beginning. The cookbook is over a thousand pages, with chapters on scones, souffles, chutneys, wine and even kitchen equipment. She really knows her stuff. I enjoyed reading it under cozy quilts.  Do you read cookbooks like novels too? 


The English are fond of peas. Constance has several recipes for peas in her book. There's one called "Petit Peas A La Chantilly," which calls for mint and heavy cream. Constance got me thinking about my favorite quick pea dish. 

I make my French peas all year long with humble frozen peas. I even make this dish on Thanksgiving. The peas are great with roast chicken and fish, especially salmon. A pretty pop of green welcome during fall and winter. This is an easy recipe, hitting all the right flavors: creamy, sweet, a tad spicy, fresh and lively. It's ready in under 15 minutes too.      

French Peas Recipe 

Serves 6-8

Some Notes:

Creme fraiche gives this recipe a French twist. But you can easily swap it with sour cream. I find creme fraiche everywhere these days, even at Trader Joe's.

Sometimes I make this dish vegan with coconut cream. Thai basil is partially good for a Southeast Asian inspired dish.

Frozen petit peas are a nice choice for this dish.

If you don't have a fresh chili pepper, some dried red chili flakes will also work.

You can even make this ahead of time and reheat in the microwave. Just be sure not to add the lime juice and zest until you're ready to serve it or it will affect bright green color of the peas.


  • 2 16-ounce bags of frozen peas
  • 1 lime, zested 
  • 3 scallions, finely diced
  • All or part of a jalapeno or Thai chili pepper, finely diced  (optional)  
  • A generous handful of fresh mint, basil or dill torn or chopped 
  • 5 tablespoons of creme fraiche or sour cream (for a vegan option use coconut cream) 
  • Salt to taste


Cook the peas until tender and bright green. This usually takes 3 minutes tops. Drain peas and place them in a large bowl. Stir in the scallions, mint, creme fraiche, lime zest and chili pepper (if using). Salt to taste. Finish with a few squirts of lime juice and serve!

Bon Appetit!

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