We have a lettuce glut. Again... we have somehow managed yet again to grow more lettuce than we and our resident slugs and snails can eat.
It happens every year. I panic, plant too many, then they all become huge at once & threaten to bolt as soon as we get a bit of warm weather.
On the plus side, the lettuce goes crazy at the point when our peas get their groove on, meaning I can make one of my all time favourite summer dishes. Petit Pois a la Francais.
I first came across this recipe in a Nigella Lawson book, many many years ago. Her books were some of the first serious cook books that I owned, and I have to credit her with really catching my imagination when it comes to cooking. Her descriptions of food, and the way she relates it to her every day life, and somehow simplifies & demystifies tricky sounding recipes really helped my first baby steps towards becoming confident in the kitchen. Thank you Nigella!
Anyway, this recipe is a traditional French side dish. And happens to be a brilliant way to cook a whole lettuce, which, when you have a glut, is pretty important. Don't be scared by the thought of cooked lettuce, it sort of wilts down into the olive oily (or buttery) juices, a bit like spinach does, and is utterly delicious combined with fresh peas. If you haven't been lucky enough to grow your own peas, use frozen, I will have to this year, aftermaking just one or two glorious dishes, as for some reason our peas haven't been nearly as prolific as they were last year.
This dish is equally delicious room temperature the next day, so don't worry about making too much! Which something you can't say about a dressed salad. Its makes a fabulous addition to a light summer lunch, pairing well with savoury tarts, or maybe a stuffed pepper or courgette. And it's super simple to make too!
If anyone has a genious lettuce recipe they would like to share.. please let me know in the comments!
Braised Lettuce & Peas, French Style
For accuracy, I measure all ingredients in metric as standard, then convert and test the recipe for American cup measurements etc.
(Heads up Aussie and UK readers- your measurements in cups are sometimes different, so please use metric or check you have the correct cup and spoon type!!)
- 1 large or 2 small shallots (, finely diced)
- Head of one lettuce (, Iceburg, Butter or 2 Little Gems work well, cut into strips)
- 1 cup fresh peas ((frozen are fine!))
- splash white wine
- teaspoon of marigold stock powder
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 teaspoon butter ((leave out to make this vegan))
- Salt & Pepper
- In a large saucepan, sautee the onion in the olive oil until translucent
- Add in the lettuce and splash of wine.
- Let this all cook down with the lid on for around 6-7 minutes, the lettuce will give off quite a lot of water.
- Add in the peas and the stock powder, plus butter if using.
- Cook for a further 5 -7 minutes, leaving the lid off to reduce the liquid so you have a nice silky 'sauce'
- Season to taste with salt & pepper.