Peas Braised with Lettuce and Onions

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This dish is considered the glory of pea cookery; it should really be served as a separate course and eaten with a spoon. If you wish to have a wine with the peas, serve a chilled white that is not too dry, such as Traminer or Graves, or a chilled rosé.

Serves4 to 6 people

Cooking MethodBraising



Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party

Recipe CourseSide Dish, Vegetable

Dietary ConsiderationEgg-free, Gluten-free, Halal, Kosher, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegetarian



Taste and TextureHerby, Savory, Sweet

Type of DishVegetable


  • 1½ firm, fresh heads of Boston lettuce 7 to 8 inches in diameter
  • 6 Tb butter
  • ½ cup water
  • 1½ Tb granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 3 lbs, medium sized, tender, fresh green peas (3 cups, shelled)
  • 8 parsley stems tied together with white string
  • 12 green onion bulbs about 1 inch in diameter OR small white onions boiled for 5 minutes in salted water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Tb softened butter
  • White string
  • A heavy-bottomed, 4-quart, enameled saucepan
  • A domed lid or a soup plate
  • A hot vegetable dish


  1. Remove wilted leaves, trim the stems, and wash the lettuce heads carefully so they will not break apart. Cut into quarters. Wind several loops of string about each quarter to keep it in shape as much as possible during the cooking.

  2. Bring the butter, water, and seasonings to the boil in the saucepan. Then add the peas and toss to cover them with the liquid. Bury the parsley in their midst. Arrange the lettuce quarters over them and baste with the liquid. Pierce a cross in the root ends of the onions (for even cooking) and disperse them among the lettuce quarters.

  3. So that the cooking steam will condense and fall back onto the peas, invert a lid over the saucepan and fill it with cold water or ice cubes; or use a soup plate. Bring the peas to the boil and boil slowly for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender. Several times during this period, remove the cover and toss the peas and vegetables to insure even cooking. As the water warms up and evaporates in the cover or soup plate, refill with ice cubes or cold water.

  4. When the peas are tender their cooking liquid should have almost entirely evaporated. Correct seasoning.

  5. Discard the parsley and the lettuce strings. Just before serving, toss the peas and onions with the butter. Turn them into the vegetable dish, place the lettuce around the edge of the dish, and serve at once.


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