Creamed Peas are a classic side dish that showcases the sweet peas of summer. The basil amplifies the sweet taste of the fresh peas while the cream sauce ties it all together into one comforting dish
Food Based Emotion
If you love food, I mean REALLY love food, then chances are you have had a dining experience that has brought you to tears. I’m talking tears of amazement and gratitude, not of sadness. The emotions that food can inspire can really sneak up on you when you least expect it. It’s difficult to explain, but I think the love and care that the chef puts into the dish has no choice but to come out through the diner.
Shelling Peas in the Shade
At the same time, food can also evoke emotion based on memory. The food doesn’t have to be fancy, it could be a brie mousse from your first Michelin star experience or it could be a bologna and cheese sandwich. One taste can bring you back to your childhood, or to a special time and place. These Creamed Peas are that kind of dish. One mouthful and I’m back at my Grandparents house, shelling peas in the shade.
Fresh Peas from the Garden
In the country, there’s plenty of space in the garden to grow rows and rows of peas. Even field peas, grown for animal feed, can be picked and eaten while they’re still young and sweet. This is the perfect time of year to make this dish. You can buy decent frozen baby peas and they’ll be fine, but there’s nothing as sweet as these freshly shelled delights. Sadly, I don’t have enough room in my garden to grow enough, even for one meal. So, last weekend we took a trip out to Edgar Farms to snag a bag for ourselves.
Creamed Peas Inspiration
I knew as soon as I finished shelling the entire bag that I wanted to make an extra special side dish for dinner. So, I dug out our family cookbook and looked up Grandma’s recipe. To my surprise, her recipe was basically fresh peas in a creamy Bechamel sauce. I’m sure she didn’t know the sauce by it’s proper culinary term but that’s not really important. She is an amazing cook and has inspired me in so many ways.
A Culinary Twist
Grandma was the first to encourage me to use my palate. She would set me simple kitchen tasks when I was young and have me taste the final product.
If I said it needed more seasoning, she would season it. I cannot express how important her trust was in giving me the confidence to experiment while cooking.
I’d love for her to taste the change I made to her dish; the basil really compliments the peas and makes it even more special.
- 6 cups freshly shelled peas
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- handful fresh basil leaves cut in a chiffonade (roll the leaves together into one large one then cut into tiny slices.
- salt and pepper
1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour to melted butter and stir well.
2. Add cream and whisk vigorously to incorporate.
3. Add milk and whisk vigorously to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper. Mixture should be smooth and not ready to boil just yet.
4. Add the peas and stir continuously until the cream sauce begins to thicken. If sauce appears too thick, stir in more milk until it becomes your desired consistency.
5. Remove from heat and stir in basil.
Cooking the peas in the cream sauce results in peas that are still bright green and fresh. I like them when they still pop in your mouth. If you like them a bit more cooked, feel free to blanch them, then add to the sauce after it has thickened.