Peas in Butter Sauce

Well yes; just a little rich!

But peas are special, and when they come fresh from the garden they deserve a special treatment that doesn’t overwhelm them, and now that I’m cutting way back on the carbohydrates, I am eating more in the way of fat. Butter is good for you, they now say.

You could put this sauce on all kinds of vegetables besides peas; asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, green beans, even cabbage or carrots. Even if you stick to peas, snap and snow peas would work very well in this sauce too. Adjust the herb and stock according to which vegetable you are using, or replace the lemon juice with a good vinegar. Use more or less of the vegetables depending on what you have, how many people you are serving, and how prominent you would like the sauce to be. It’s not outstandingly assertive, in spite of all that butter. I suspect this would also work just fine in the winter, with frozen vegetables.

Classic butter sauce is made with no starch, but I’m a belt-and-suspenders kind of a cook, and took no chances of it failing to emulsify. This requires fairly precise timing but is otherwise very quick and easy to make. The butter should be cold, not at room temperature or it won’t emulsify properly.

2 to 6 servings
15 minutes prep time, not including shelling the peas

3 cups shelled peas (OR use 2 to 4 cups other vegetable)
1/2 teaspoon potato starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon rubbed dry mint (OR other herb)
1/4 cup vegetable OR chicken stock
2 tablespoons 10% cream

3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Have the peas shelled and ready to go. Cook the peas (or other vegetable) by steaming or boiling them in the usual way, expecting them to take 2 to 4 minutes. (Other vegerables may take up to 6 minutes.) Because vegetables cook very quickly, you should have all the sauce ingredients standing by ready before you start cooking them.

Put the starch, salt, pepper, herb, stock, and cream into a small bowl and mix. When the peas or other vegetables have about 2 minutes left to cook (which is to say you have just dropped the peas in boiling water, or put them in a steamer a minute or two ago) heat a broad, shallow pan – I used my stainless steel skillet – over medium-high heat. Add the ingredients you mixed in the little bowl and whisk steadily, until the sauce thickens – about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low and add the butter, whisking it in until melted and amalgamated. Add the lemon juice and whisk it in.

Immediately pour the sauce over the WELL DRAINED peas in their serving dish, or you can add the well drained, did I say? peas to the pan and toss them in the sauce there before transferring it all to a serving dish. Serve at once.

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