If you grow peas in your garden, or have ready access to them at the store or farmers’ market, I envy you. I love fresh peas, but can hardly ever find them. And they don’t do well in our garden.

So imagine how happy I was this week when Bill brought home a basket of gorgeous peas in the pod.

Fresh peas are wonderful just boiled in salted water, but I highly recommend this recipe for Petits Pois à la Française (French-style peas) from the 1984 Gourmet Cookbook, Volume I. The peas are boiled in water with butter, spring onions, shredded lettuce, sugar, salt and sprigs of parsley and chervil until almost done, and then you add a little butter and flour to make a lovely light sauce for them.

Ingredients for French-style peas

Peas and chervil were made for one another, and this is my favourite way to use this delicate herb with a mild licorice flavour.

Chervil has a mild licorice flavour

Once the peas have cooked, you stir in some flour creamed with butter and voilà – perfect peas.

French-style peas with sauteed corn and grilled chicken

French-style peas


3 tbsp butter, divided (2 tbsp + 1 tbsp)

6 tiny spring onions or scallions (white part only)

5 or 6 leaves lettuce, shredded

1 tbsp sugar

½ tsp salt

3 sprigs of parsley and 3 sprigs of chervil, tied together

2 generous cups freshly shelled peas (about 2 lbs. in the pod)

½ cup water

½ tsp all-purpose flour

Place 2 tbsp butter, onions, lettuce, sugar, salt, parsley, chervil, peas and water in a saucepan. Bring to boil, cover the pan and cook rapidly for about 5 minutes, until the peas are almost done. There should only be 2 or 3 tbsp of water left in the pan. Discard the herbs and remove the pan from the heat. Add 1 tbsp butter creamed with the flour to the pan and return it to the heat, shaking it until the butter and flour mixture has combined with the liquid. As soon as the liquid boils again, remove from heat and serve the peas. Serves 2.

From The Gourmet Cookbook, Volume I, 1984