English Peas and Lettuce

This is classic French country cooking, and it is delicious. Five pounds of green pea pods yield approximately 2 pounds of peas. One pound of pods yields about a cup.


  • 4 pounds fresh unshelled English peas
  • 10 ounces pearl onions
  • ¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs of your choice, especially thyme
  • 1 medium head leaf lettuce
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Shell the peas. You should have about 4 cups. Drop the whole onions into boiling water for 2 or 3 minutes, drain, and rinse in cold water. Drain again. Slice the base off each onion and pop it out of its skin.

Heat the butter in a heavy, straight-sided sauté pan. Add the herbs and about half the lettuce leaves, lining the bottom of the pan. Add the onions. Add the shelled peas, season with salt and pepper, and cover with the rest of the lettuce leaves. Cover the pot tightly and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Uncover the pot and taste the peas. Depending on their size, they may need a little more time.