“Retro” Peas Francais

February 5th, 2012

Back in the early years of our marriage, we often had dinner parties.  It was the late 70’s and everyone was doing it.  At the time there were so many “exotic” foods to try;  Coq au vin, paella with that strange and expensive spice saffron, and Beef Wellington.

We had fun in the kitchen.  One of my favorite cookbooks of that time was The Pleasure of your Company by  Diana and Paul von Welanetz.  They were world travelers and cooking instructors from California.  Diana had studied at the Cordon Bleu and the couple loved food of all ethnic origins.  The Pleasure of your Company had recipes for, among many,  A Spanish Paella Party, An Italian Dinner for a Couple or a Crowd, A German Party for Eight or More and An Elegant Dinner Party in the New Orleans Manner.

The menu for the Elegant Dinner Party in the New Orleans Manner was very French.  It included Oysters Rockefeller, Coq au Vin, French-Style Baked Peas, Croissants, French Quarter Ice Cream Torte with Fudge Sauce and Cafe Brulot.  I made it often.

The other night I pulled a package of frozen peas out of the freezer, they being the only vegetable I had for dinner and a light bulb went on in my head.  “What about those French peas I used to make?”  “Where is that cookbook?”  Luckily it was on my cookbook shelf here in Florida and I turned to the much used and stained page.

I am calling this vegetable dish “Retro” because it was something I used to do and because of the casserole I cooked it in.

This Pyrex casserole is 46 years old.  It was a wedding present.  It has a lid and I still love using it.  It is perfect for the Peas Francais.  One of the reasons I love this recipe is that you put frozen peas directly in the oven with pats of butter, chopped shallots and lettuce.  Easy peasy, literally.

The finished dish tastes great.  The bit of sugar, butter, shallots and lettuce make a big difference.  David tasted the peas and said “Ah . . . now I remember this”.  A trip down memory lane indeed.


3 ten-ounce packages frozen peas
1 shallot, or the white part of 2 scallions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or margarine in a chunk ( I cubed it )
1 leaf iceberg lettuce, cut into 1/4 inch strips ( I used romaine )

Place the frozen peas in a 2 to 3 quart casserole with a tight-fitting lid.  Top with all the other ingredients.  Bake covered at 350 degrees F. for 1 hour.  (I cooked it for 45 minutes).  Stir and serve right in the casserole.

To Make Ahead:  Assemble all the ingredients except the lettuce.  Store in the freezer until ready to bake.  Top with lettuce 1 hour before serving and bake as directed.

As an added note:  Diana von Welanetz Wentworth is also the author of  The Chicken Soup for the Soul Cookbook and Send Me Someone, the story of the tragic loss of her husband Paul to cancer and the beginning of her new life with Ted Wentworth.

Printable recipe

11 responses to ““Retro” Peas Francais”

  1. Rita says:

    Well Penny that was a indeed a trip down memory lane for me. We were 6 couples and once a month one couple received the other with one of those fancy meals. I was so much fun. I have never heard of your book, but sounds like a great one. It was the best of times.

  2. Pondside says:

    At this time of year we eat a lot of frozen vegetables, and I always have peas. I’ll have to give this a try – I’m so glad you include the printable link for your recipes.

  3. Susan says:

    I love the legend behind the peas and your casserole. Looks familiar……Thanks. Susan

  4. The cookbook looks fabulous…I like that it helps you plan for various sized groups, and with a theme!

    I have to try this…of all frozen veggies, I love peas and their brilliant color!


  5. Pam says:

    This sounds really good and I just printed it. I love frozen peas and am hoping this recipe will win Bill over instead of canned peas. Love your food memories—we had the dinner parties back then too in Louisville. Good times!!!

  6. I’m so glad you’ve revived this dish Penny. It was one of our standbys for years and years. What goes around comes around. We all need to revisit memory lane from time to time.

  7. Lorrie says:

    I remember this recipe, or something like it. But I don’t think I ever made it. Frozen peas are a staple in my freezer – thanks for this idea.

  8. Penny, what cute stories to go with the dish!

    Just checked Amazon and you have a collector’s item there. Copies are selling for $200. But, even though I would like the much loved, much deservedly stained book, I am guessing the condition might drop the value!


  9. Barbara says:

    What fun, Penny. I love recipes like this. The old ones are the best, aren’t they? Wonderful photo of the stained page. 🙂
    I was watching an episode of The Two Fat Ladies and she did a similar dish (with fresh peas….I remember shucking them for my grandmother out on the porch) with peas, green onions, butter lettuce wedges, butter and cream. Oh my. It looked delicious.

  10. What a great post. I loved hearing about your dinner parties and your much loved and well used book, and how your husband remembered the dish. I’ve never heard of it, but I would like to try it!
    P.S. Love that you still use that wedding dish after 46 years. I just said to someone else today: They don’t make things today like they used to…

  11. podso says:

    Love your picture of the well worn cookbook and the retro pyrex bowl –I still have mine and use them. I find peas rather plain so it is nice to see a recipe for them.

    Thanks for your kind comments on my blog…

    I remember visiting your blog before … we had a house on LL in the 80s-90s … still miss it!

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