June 5, 2015 by dgarnett2013
Braised Peas and little gem lettuce: April Bloomfield’s A Girl and Her Greens
Serves 6 as a side
- 3 heads Little Gem lettuce (about 450g), stems trimmed of black but kept intact
- 55ml plus 2 tabs virgin olive oil, plus a glut for finishing
- 6 medium spring garlic cloves or 3 medium garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthwise
- About 1 tab Maldon or another flaky sea salt.
- 1 tab unsalted butter
- 450g young onions or Spanish onions, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 0.5cm slices
- 110ml dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
- 300g shelled fresh peas (from about 900g of pods)
- 350ml simple chicken stock
- A five finger pinch of mint leaves, roughly chopped at the last minute
Remove and reserve the floppy outer leaves from the lettuce, discarding any blemished ones. Halve the heads lengthwise. Rinse, drain, and thinly slice the reserved outer leaves.
Heat 55ml of the olive oil in a wide heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the garlic and cook, occasionally flipping and stirring the cloves, until they’re golden brown – 1 to 2 mins. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the garlic to a small bowl.
Add the lettuce heads cut side down to the pot (they may spit and pop a bit) and cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 mins. Turn them over, add ½ tsp of salt and cook just until they’ve gone translucent at the stem and wilted at the tips, a bout 3 mins more. It’s OK if a few leaves fall off.
Transfer the halved heads to a plate. Add the sliced lettuce, along with another ½ tsp or so of salt to the pot and cook until just wilted and just about all the liquid in the pot has evaporated, about 2 mins. Transfer to a medium bowl.
Give the pot a wipe, reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the remaining 2 tabs of oil and butter. When the butter froths, add the onions and the cooked garlic along with 1 tsp of salt, stir, and cover the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally to make sure everything’s happy, until the onions are soft and creamy but not coloured, about 20 mins. Increase the heat to high, pour in the wine, and boil until its nearly all evaporated, about 5 mins.
Add the peas and return the cooked sliced lettuce to the pot, stir well, then reduce the lettuce head halves, cut side up, to the pot along with the stock and 1 tsp of salt.
Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer, prodding the lettuce heads and peas a bit so they’re nearly submerged. Cook just until the peas are soft but still pop in your mouth and the flavours marry, about 15 mins, depending on the size of the peas.
Add the mint and a healthy glug of olive oil and have a stir. Add salt to taste.
Peas podded on a sunny day with Felix.