Peas were not a vegetable that I ate growing up – for some reason all I ever was exposed to were the lackluster canned peas that were served at my elementary school cafeteria, which left me disinterested to say the least. It was not until I got married that I finally had the opportunity to taste fresh peas. I did not know what to expect at my first Thanksgiving with my hubby’s family. I thought that I would surely encounter Greek food considering my in-laws are Greek, but I was surprised at just how American their Thanksgiving meal was. It probably is the most American meal they eat all year and I suppose that makes sense, considering that Thanksgiving is an American celebration after all. While their spread looked very similar to what I grew up with, the big bowl of peas stood out to me right away. The vibrant green buttered peas were so simple, yet so delicious and they had been a foundational part of every Thanksgiving meal throughout my hubby’s life. My eyes had been opened to this humble little vegetable and out of my new found love for them, came this recipe for buttered peas with leeks and mint.
While the simple peas my in-laws served at Thanksgiving were tasty, I had the desire to elevate them just a bit. Melt in your mouth tender sautéed leeks and a touch of fresh mint compliment the sweetness of the peas in the most perfect way and using high quality cultured butter lends a lovely flavor & richness to the dish. The first time I made peas this way for my hubby he was a tad bit skeptical, I mean, I was messing with tradition and in his eyes there was no need to change what he considered was already a good thing. But once he tried these buttered peas with leeks and mint he realized that the few new additions greatly enhanced the peas he loved so much.
Frozen peas are an ideal choice for this recipe because once cooked they retain their fresh flavor and gorgeous green hue. Fresh peas would be wonderful as well, but please, do not used canned peas, they just will not do this dish justice. While we could gladly eat these peas anytime of year, they have a permanent spot on our Thanksgiving menu and are a super simple side dish as well. This recipe comes together in about 30 minutes and most of the time is credited to the leeks slowly softening in the butter, so really, there is only about a total of 10 minutes of hands on time.
Amongst the richness of the Thanksgiving feast, these buttered peas with leeks and mint add a nice touch of green to your plate and a welcome brightness to your palate. The flavors are a wonderful accompaniment to all of the traditional dishes of Thanksgiving and these peas are so delicious, they should win over any pea skeptics that may be at your table.
- 16oz fresh or frozen peas (thawed at room temperature for 1 hour)
- 2 large leeks
- 4 tbsp high quality butter (we used Vermont Creamery lightly salted cultured butter ) or subsititute vegan butter to make it dairy free
- 1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped at time of serving
- salt to taste
- Slice the leeks lengthwise in half, remove a couple of layers of the outer leaves so that you are left with the tender center leaves
- Cut off the root ends & the dark green tops & thinly slice the leeks into 1/4" slices - so you are left with the white & light green portions of the leeks
- Place the sliced leeks in a bowl, fill with cold water & swish the leeks around to remove any dirt from between the leaves - pour the leeks into a strainer & drain well
- In a medium pot, melt 3 tbsp of butter over low heat & add the sliced leeks to the melted butter. Stir to coat the leeks in butter & simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring often until leeks are soft & tender without browning
- Once leeks are tender, add in the peas, turn heat up to medium low & gently stir to incorporate the peas into the buttery leeks
- Cook the peas with the leeks for about 7-10 minutes, stirring often until cooked through
- Test for seasoning at this stage & add salt as needed
- To serve, place buttered peas & leeks in a serving bowl & top with remaining 1 tbsp of butter & finely chopped fresh mint