My version of French peas contains sweet shallots, cream, nuggets of salty lardons and melted cheese. Peas can’t get more comforting than that, now can they?
It’s a creamy and savory side dish that makes the sweet tender peas really stand out. This recipe for French peas is also very easy and quick to make! I am also pretty sure it can turn anyone who is pea adverse into a pea aficionado (or at least someone who can tolerate peas).
My in-laws just left after staying with us for a month. Amid all the Turkish food they always make for us when they visit, one particularly stood out to me because I had not eaten it for a while; bezelye yemeği. It’s a tomatoey peas stew with carrots, potatoes and ground beef, and it’s really nice next to rice pilaf, a big dollop of yogurt and a good grind of black pepper. Anyway, I’m coming to the French peas, I swear!
After we cleaned up our plates they asked me how French people eat their peas. Do we really just reheat the content of these cans of peas & baby carrots they spotted at the supermarket, and call it a day? Well I am not gonna lie, some people do and are content to serve these as if it’s a proper side dish. But French-style peas cooked from scratch with bacon and lettuce are also a thing in France.
BREAK WITH TRADITION
In my family cream and cheese are also added to the mix. It’s not the traditional way, but it’s the better-tasting way. I’ll be the first one to tell you, I am not crazy about peas. Maybe because I grew up eating unappetizing peas reheated from a can. The thing is, I have principles and I don’t like sweet things in my meals. In my mind, sweetness is for dessert only and peas are pretty sweet. But if I tone down the peas’ natural sweetness with cream, lardons and cheese, I sure can like French peas! I don’t make peas often but when I get a craving for them, I have to have it. And I have to have it fast because there is simply nothing else like it. So I do hope you’ll try them if you are not a big fan of peas. I am not one either but I find these tender French peas coated in cream absolutely irresistible.
FROZEN PEAS TO THE RESCUE
My recipe uses frozen peas and there is nothing wrong with this shortcut! Listen, I am not shelling 450g of peas. I simply don’t love peas enough to commit this much time to such a repetitive task. Even with my favorite video game podcasts on, it’s not worth it! I can come up without a thousand things I would rather do than shelling peas. The days are too short. Plus, peas are only in season for a couple of months. However, if you use frozen ones you can make French peas all year long! And I promise you they are good, real good! So don’t feel bad about using frozen peas, they are a real time-saver and you’re not compromising on deliciousness.
Cook the lardons until they have released their fat over medium heat. Add the chopped shallot and cook until softened. Stir in the shredded lettuce and cook until wilted. Add the frozen peas and cook for 3 min. Add the seasoning, bay leaves, cream and water. Bring to a simmer over high heat and then reduce to medium-low. Cook covered for 15 min. Stir in the cheese and cook for 5 min uncovered. Your French peas are ready! I told you it was easy-peasy (I had to).
THE CONVENTIONAL WAY
If you want to make the more traditional version of French peas then replace the cream with water and omit the cheese. But come on, what hasn’t been improved by the addition of cream and cheese? They are pretty much in every French recipe anyway. And I know I am not the only French person out there who adds them to her peas!
I suppose you could also make this French peas recipe using freshly shelled peas (I applaud you for your commitment), or peas drained from a can, as long as you have 450g of peas ready to be cooked (3 cups). I have not personally tried it though.
In the mood for another French side dish? Here are some of my favorite recipes:Print
If you’re looking for a creamy sweet and savory side dish, French peas have got you covered! They are delicious and very easy to make, especially if you use frozen peas like I do.
- 2 shallots
- 200g lardons* (7 oz)
- 115g lettuce (4 oz), I used a small romaine heart
- 400g frozen peas (3 cups or 14 oz)
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- ½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
- 2 bay leaves
- 160ml heavy cream (⅔ cup)
- 80ml water (⅓ cup)
- 30g Swiss cheese (1 oz), grated or cut into very small pieces
- Cook the lardons and the shallots. Peel the shallots, finely chop them and set them aside. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Once hot, tumble in the lardons. Cook, stirring from time to time, until the lardons have released their fat but be careful, they shouldn’t turn crispy or brown too much. It should take about 6 min. Add the chopped shallots, stir well and cook until the shallots have softened, about 3 min. While the shallots are cooking, slice the lettuce into thin ribbons and set them aside.
- Wilt the salad and “defrost” the peas. Once the shallots are soft and golden, tip in the sliced lettuce. Stir well and cook until wilted, about 3 min. Add the frozen peas and cook, stirring from time to time, until the frost begins to leave the peas, about 3 min.
- Cook the peas. Add the salt, black pepper, bay leaves and cream. Give it a good stir, bring to a simmer over high heat and then cover the pan with a lid. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the French peas cook for 15 min. Pluck the bay leaves and discard them. Stir in the cheese and cook for 5 min uncovered, stirring from time to time. Add a bit of water if it looks too dry (but I highly doubt it will be). The peas should not simply be coated in cream but be pretty “saucy”.
* if lardons are not available, you can instead slice thick-cut bacon crosswise into strips or use diced pancetta
The French peas with cream will keep for up to 3 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
Reheat gently in a pan, covered with a lid, set over medium-low heat. Add a couple tablespoons of water if it looks too dry and stir occasionally. It should take about 5 min to warm up.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 413
Keywords: cooking frozen peas, sauteed lettuce and peas, quick sides