Shelling peas is one of the great summer kitchen tasks. Why is it so satisfying to strip those fat little green pearls out of their pods? Especially when the peas are so plump that they're fairly bursting from their jackets, like the ones we bought Saturday morning at the Downtown Farmers Market?
So if you have any peas leftover–they're so sweet when they're raw and just naked–one of the classic ways to cook them is like the French do, in lettuce. I've eaten peas prepared this way many times, but never done it myself until this Sunday when my chef sister and I spent the day cooking a family feast from our Farmers Market purchases.
In case you haven't tried it, here's how:
Line a shallow pan with washed, but not dried, lettuce, making sure you put double layers in the middle.
Put the peas in the "cups" formed by the curved lettuce leaves:
Tear up some mint leaves and sprinkle over the peas. Then dot with butter.
Cover the peas with another layer of lettuce:
Cover the pan and cook the peas for about 15 minutes. Essentially, the moisture in and on the lettuce steams the peas.
Remove top lettuce leaves and that's that.