Lettuce + peas + onions – in French … Petits Pois a la Francaise. Sometime a go I decided to up my French cooking techniques and my friend Pierre (kitchenbabble.com) from Bangkok suggested we start cooking our way through Le Cordon Bleu at Home recipe book. As it then turned out, Saturdays became a specific cooking lesson, with Pierre in Bangkok and myself here in Cape Town, we set out on what was such an intriguing and rewarding international, virtual cooking experience. From other ends of the atlas, we emailed and facebooked our comparative findings.
This dish of lettuce + peas + onions was a lesson in which they paired it with a roast chicken. My culinary dictionary expletives included…it is absolutely delicious!!! As it happened, we did not finish the chicken – as this dish just took centre stage on the table…. My friends tucked into this dish, with bread in hand it was like a peasant dish – or from the look of my friends, their last meal as they soaked up the juices, finishing every little last little pea! You can serve this as a side dish or as a main meal – just bring the bread, good wine..and good friends.
peas + lettuce + parsley + onions = petits pois a la francaise
- 1 Small head of lettuce chiffonade * see at bottom of recipe for the chiffonade technique
- 5 Tablespoons of real butter (margarine is not going to work this time!)
- 3 Cups of peas ( I used frozen peas, I simply poured hot water over and let it stand for 5 minutes and thereafter drain)
- 18 Pearl onions pealed
- 1 Small bunch of parsley ( tie into bouquet with kitchen twine)
- ⅓ Cup water
- 11/2 T Sugar
- 1t Salt
- Heat the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the lettuce + peas + onions. Stir gently until the lettuce wilts.
- Add the parsley + water + sugar + salt.
- Stand back, simmer for +/- 30 minutes, taste for seasoning, then be amazed!
- Remove parsley and serve.
- * Stack the lettuce leaves one on top of each other and roll them up tight into a cylinder – or something like a rolled lettuce tube. Then cut the cylinder crosswise into thin slices.
I made a tomato pasta sauce with well-renowned and fabulous Nina Timm at her home earlier today. What an honour and absolute delight to meet and spend a day with this amazing woman! Yip, she is the wonder behind the much followed www.my-easy-cooking.com blog. We laughed, we cooked and shared so many stories from our past and talked about the thrills of living in today…. I will be chatting to her tomorrow on her RSG radio broadcast between 9 and 10 am and share what we did today. I am so inspired and so alive … Nina I thank you for one of the best days of my life and to cooking up many more memories in the future!
Back to the sauce … I am a freakishly mad about tomatoes. So obviously my most favourite pasta sauce is a tomato-based sauce … made from fresh, ripe, juicy tomatoes that brim with flavour. I read about this method to make tomato sauce a few years ago in a magazine – unfortunately I cannot remember or find the magazine between the thousands of foodie magazines lying around in my house – please try this, it is definitely the most delicious tomato sauce you will ever taste!!
Variations you can add to the tomato sauce + remember always sprinkle generously with shaved parmesan!
- Cut chorizo sausages in slices and add – this makes it a rich and spicy dish.
- Bacon (+ chilies optional) – everyone loves bacon! Adding a somewhat smoky flavour to your pasta.
- Meatballs – you can make this on Sunday and just add in the week to your pasta dish.
- Lots of fresh chopped chilies – simple, yet always deliciously and one of my favourites.
- Capers + olives + anchovies + chilies – my absolute favourite!
- Any seafood – prawns, calamari, fish, mussels – add them to the tomato based sauce at the end of the cooking process – let it simmer through for 5 minutes – taste for seasoning again after you have added any seafood.
- Fresh herbs (basil, parsley) and lots of rocket – mix it with the sauce – yum.
- Roasted vegetables + olives + capers + crumbled feta – these produce lovely Mediterranean tastes.
- Artichokes, creamy feta cheese + sprinkle of dry oregano (use the oregano very sparingly).
- Fresh slices of buffalo mozzarella + sprinkled with smoked Maldon salt .
tomato pasta sauce + 10 variations to spice it up
- 900g Rosa tomatoes
- 200ml Olive oil – good quality (I know this sounds a lot but the tomatoes burst open to combine with the olive oil, garlic and basil - and creates the most amazing sauce )
- 8 Garlic cloves – peeled but kept in whole segments
- Handful fresh Basil
- Salt and black pepper
- 150 – 200g Fresh parmesan cheese – shaved with potato peeler
- 500g Penne pasta (or spaghetti)
- Add the olive oil to a large pan / pot and add the garlic and about one handful of torn basil leaves. Heat the oil very slowly on low-medium – we want to infuse the oil with the garlic and basil. Infuse for about 5 minutes – please don’t burn the garlic.
- Add all the tomatoes, turn up the heat to medium high and cook for +- 20 minutes without the saucepan lid.
- You will see the tomatoes will start to burst open and infuse with the olive oil.
- Season generously with salt and freshly grounded black pepper. Please be sure to taste when you season!
- Just before serving, add the rest of the basil and sprinkle generously with shaved parmesan
- You can use the sauce just as is or see the 10 variations above you can add at the end for an interesting twist.