I can hardly believe I’m actually attempting this recipe. Typically made with butter and chicken broth, petits pois a la francaise was never been on my list of things to veganize…until today. It’s odd how many other vegan bloggers have attempted a re-do of this recipe and yet failed to eliminate the asinine amount of calories from fat. To replace butter with earth balance doesn’t make the dish nutritious. Switching from butter to earth balance or vegetable oil might, granted, add 10 or so extra years to the average human lifespan—the result of having cut out cholesterol, and nothing more significant or interesting than that.
This 5-ingredient recipe takes only 5 minutes to prepare, and had revelatory effect on how I think about Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Who knows, maybe more of Julia Child’s recipes can be transformed into nutritious, vegan, paleo, fat-free or low-fat recipes.
In Mastering the Art of French Cooking the recipe calls for “Boston lettuce”, which is a subtype of butter lettuce. For this adaptation I used romaine, which has a slightly sweet flavor and thus works perfectly to eliminate the need for the 1 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar called for in the original. Also, I didn’t have green onions or parsley. Instead, I used granulated garlic and lemon juice. While it isn’t a reproduction of petits pois a la francaise in the strictest sense, it embodies key aspects of the original.
2 cups fresh or frozen peas
1 cup baby kale leaves
1 head romaine lettuce
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp granulated garlic
Bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add peas directly into the pot or in a steamer basket. Boil/steam, covered, for 2 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit, covered for another minute or two while you chop the lettuce. Lettuce should yield about 2 cups. If you boiled the peas (without a steamer) drain the water into a jar or mug. Do not discard, like I regretfully did today by accident. A lot of the nutrients wind up in the water when you cook vegetables, and peas are no exception. In fact, the water/broth from boiled peas is one of the more flavorful of all vegetable waters. I would know; I’m a seasoned pro in the art/sport/craft/science of boiling/steaming/extracting nutrients from vegetables. *Important: do not rinse the peas as you strain them, as they need to retain enough heat to wilt the lettuce and kale. The wilted quality of the lettuce is what defines the recipe, so be sure not to overlook this step.
Once you have strained out the veg water, return the peas to the pot and stir in the chopped lettuce and baby kale leaves. Sprinkle in the granulated garlic, and cover again. The peas and the pot should still be hot, enough to wilt the lettuce and kale.
After 1 minute in the pot w/ lid, the lettuce and kale should appear wilted and the dish overall @ the appropriate temperature to serve (with a slice of lemon to garnish/complement the flavor profile).