A dish of Peas and lettuce is not exactly what today’s typical American family would want to serve up with their meat loaf & roasted potatoes but back in the White House, around 1808, a lucky dinner guest would probably find it on the extensive menu. This recipe must have come with Jefferson from Paris and wound around through his menus at Monticello and through several generations to arrive on the family farm table in southern Missouri where curiously enough several more generations later it landed on our own table here at the Old Adobe in Montecito, California.
The peas are kept fresh and snappy lounging in a luxurious savory satin sauce. The taste of the lettuce is varied from a crispy crunch at the stem up to almost custard-like texture from the bright pale green lacy leaves. Top notes would be the sweetness of the sugar, the distant heat of the white pepper and the chiffonade of mint. It may want to be paired with a less robust entrée the next time...something like roasted foul or a more delicate fish course?
2 cups of peas. (frozen or for
fresh peas simmer in boiling salted
water for 5 minutes or until
2-3 small heads of Romaine lettuce
1/4 small red onion chopped fine
Slurry - 1 /2 C chicken broth &
1 T. flour shaken in a jar.
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
3 or 4 mint leaves
2 T. butter or swap one for EVOO
Wash the lettuce removing the large outside leaves and place them on paper towels to dry. Cut off the end of the stem being careful to leave enough to hold the leaves firmly attached. Now cut the hearts of lettuce into halves lengthwise, or even quarters if they are large, keeping enough of the core to hold the them together. and drain on paper towel.
Add butter to a large skillet with a cover and sauté the onion until translucent and saute the lettuce hearts with salt & pepper until just beginning to brown. Next remove the hearts and set aside. Add the slurry and cook until slightly thickened. Now add the peas and cook for 5 minutes.
Move the peas aside and line the bottom and sides of the skillet with the large leaves and arrange the hearts on top together with the peas. Sprinkle with sugar, salt and pepper. Roll the mint leaves together, slice thinly and distribute evenly. Now cover the top with the remaining lettuce leaves and a lid.
Allow to sit covered until just time for service. Turn on the heat and cook until hot to serve.