A lovely way to serve an omelet in springtime is with freshly shelled peas, with a scattering of mint and scallions for an extra burst of flavor. You can add cheese, ham or bacon, baby spinach or arugula — anything your palate desires. The omelet is light, fresh and ultraquick to prepare. Peas straight out of the pod need to be cooked for only a minute. Then whip the eggs, swirl them into the pan, and lunch can be on the table in just ten minutes.
Omelette aux petits pois / Spring omelet with fresh peas
As soon as peas come into season each year, I make a beeline for the market. Stands are piled high with peas in their pods and the other fabulous offerings of spring. Rhubarb, asparagus, strawberries, spring onions, baby carrots, baby turnips — it’s beautiful. I enjoy the rite of shelling the peas. Unless you plan to make a meal of them, this goes quickly and can be done while chatting with friends, listening to music or watching the news. It’s hard to resist tasting as you go. The peas can be sweet as sugar, and they’re virtually calorie free.
When I had my place in the Burgundy countryside, I enjoyed growing peas. My neighbor taught me to plant crisscross bamboo stakes over the tiny sprouts in early spring. Pale green tendrils soon wrapped themselves around the poles, blossoms appeared and the first baby pods took form. Waiting for the peas to mature was a challenge, but worth it — by late May or early June, we could gather them up and serve them in any number of ways.
The classic French way of preparing fresh peas is called, aptly, petits pois à la française and includes … cooked lettuce. That may sound odd, but when baby lettuce leaves are sautéd in butter with baby onions and then gently braised with peas and a little thyme, the result is surprisingly wonderful. Like other French chefs, I often include bacon.
My love of fresh peas translates into many other recipes: fresh pea soup with mint, risotto with asparagus and fresh peas, tagine of veal with fresh peas and lemon, pasta with peas and country ham, and perhaps my favorite, jardinière de légumes, a medley of tender spring veggies. I made that this week alongside grilled salmon, with rhubarb compote as a dessert. If any of these dishes tempt you, it’s time to head to the kitchen.