Cipolline novelle con piselli (Spring Onions and Peas)

In contorno by Frank33 Comments

While many recipes for peas call for a bit of onion as a flavor base, you don’t really taste the onion itself—it’s there to bring out the peas’ natural sweetness. In this recipe for Spring Onions and Peas, you get a completely new dish from essentially the same ingredients in different ratios. The onion steps up as an equal player, and the two make a beautiful duet, both visually and gustatorially.

Spring Onion and Peas is a great way to enjoy those true spring onions from your local farmers market. And while using young, tender, just-picked farm-fresh peas would also be ideal, fine frozen peas actually work just fine. Recipes usually call for olive oil only, but I find a dab of butter lends an appealing extra sweetness to the dish. Pancetta adds savor if you want, but as pictured here, I prefer pure vegetable version. And if you leave out the butter and optional pancetta from your Spring Onion and Peas, the dish is vegan.

With young, tender vegetables, this dish will take you barely 15 minutes to make—don’t overcook it, either, or the dish will lose its sweetness.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6

  • 2 bunches of spring onions
  • 250g/8 oz of peas, frozen or fresh and shelled
  • Water or broth
  • Olive oil and butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50g (2 oz) pancetta, cut into small dice (optional)
  • A pinch of sugar (optional)

Directions

Spring onions look much like giant scallions, but with a rather more bulbous base. It’s that base that you want to use for this recipe.

Cipolline novelle con piselli

Wash and dry your spring onions well. Trim off the root ends, then cut off the green tops. Depending on their size, cut the bulbs lengthwise in halves or quarters. If they’re very small, you may want to leave them whole.

Heat melt a dab of butter in some olive oil in a sauté pan or braiser. When the butter is just melted, add the spring onions (and the pancetta, if using) and let them sauté very gently for a few minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go.

If using frozen peas:

Add a ladleful of broth or water and cover. Let the onions simmer until they are almost tender. If your onions are young and fresh, this should take no more than 5 minutes. Uncover the pan and add the peas, mixing gingerly. Continue simmering, uncovered, until the onions and peas are done and the liquid in the pan has almost, but not quite, evaporated. A minute or two should be enough.  Taste and adjust for seasoning before serving.

If using fresh, shelled peas:

Add the peas to the onions, give them a turn, then add a ladleful of water or broth. Cover and simmer gently until both peas and onions are tender, about 10 minutes or so if your peas are young. If there is excess liquid left in the pan, uncover, raise the heat and let the liquid reduce. Taste and adjust for seasoning before serving.

Spring Onions and Peas

Notes on Spring Onions and Peas

Farm-fresh spring onions are the best way, in my opinion, to enjoy this dish—and this is the right time of year, here in the Northern Hemisphere, to enjoy them. But if you can’t find true spring onions, you can substitute baby onions or large scallions. I bet that shallots, peeled but left whole, would also work nicely.

As mentioned in the introduction, frozen peas work just fine in Spring Onion and Peas. In fact, they work even better than most fresh peas you might find in a supermarket, which tend to be rather too large and mealy for this dish. But if you want to use fresh peas and find that may not be just off the vine, a pinch of sugar can help bring back their sweetness.

If you slightly undercook them initially, Spring Onions and Peas can be made ahead and reheated whenever you’re ready to eat.

Cipolline novelle con piselli (Spring Onions and Peas)

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 4-6

Cipolline novelle con piselli (Spring Onions and Peas)

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches of spring onions
  • 250g/8 oz of peas, frozen or fresh and shelled
  • Water or broth
  • Olive oil and butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50g (2 oz) pancetta, cut into small dice (optional)
  • A pinch of sugar (optional)

Directions

  1. Spring onions look much like giant scallions, but with a rather more bulbous base. It's that base that you want to use for this recipe.
  2. Wash and dry your spring onions well. Trim off the root ends, then cut off the green tops. Depending on their size, cut the bulbs lengthwise in halves or quarters. If they're very small, you may want to leave them whole.
  3. Heat melt a dab of butter in some olive oil in a sauté pan or braiser. When the butter is just melted, add the spring onions (and the pancetta, if using) and let them sauté very gently for a few minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go.
  4. If using frozen peas:
  5. Add a ladleful of broth or water and cover. Let the onions simmer until they are almost tender. If your onions are young and fresh, this should take no more than 5 minutes. Uncover the pan and add the peas, mixing gingerly. Continue simmering, uncovered, until the onions and peas are done and the liquid in the pan has almost, but not quite, evaporated. A minute or two should be enough. Taste and adjust for seasoning before serving.
  6. If using fresh, shelled peas:
  7. Add the peas to the onions, give them a turn, then add a ladleful of water or broth. Cover and simmer gently until both peas and onions are tender, about 10 minutes or so if your peas are young. If there is excess liquid left in the pan, uncover, raise the heat and let the liquid reduce. Taste and adjust for seasoning before serving.
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Comments

  1. Ciao Frank!
    I love this…When I was still at my parents’, I always asked mamma to use it as dressing for pasta, especially ditalini rigati or mezze penne. They are so good together.
    Buon weekend!

  2. Excellent, detox food. We usually cook this with garlic, dill and potato cubes, but your version is simpler and it’d be perfect for a light meal, with a few drops of fresh lemon juice.
    Thank you Frank!

  3. Frank I have tried all the recipes received since I signed up for them. Not once have I been disappointed. I am not the greatest meat eater, chicken and pork belly is as far as I go. So anything veggie or pasta like goes down well.
    Desserts are my weakness so I hope to find some more coming along.

    1. Author

      Thanks so much Heather, for your kind comment! So glad to hear you’re enjoying the recipes on the site. I think you’ll like this one, too.

  4. Yes to the pancetta. I was actually looking at a quite similar recipe earlier this week (time for fresh peas!). This is such a classic — SO good, and your version is perfect. Thanks.

  5. Spring onions are abundant (and beautiful) in the market these days – what a wonderful contorno for an upcoming Italian meal I am planning!

    1. Author

      That’s fantastic, David. Do hope your guests enjoy it. Actually, I’m pretty sure they will…

  6. Great idea and lovely photos!
    As a child I disliked all legumes. I was the one tasked with shelling peas, which did not endear them to me. One summer at a camp I ate them and realized that I liked them. It’s a good thing we change our taste as we grow up.

  7. Although I don’t like peas (I know, strange for someone who grew up in the UK!) I still make them for my family. This is a great side dish and as always, so simple to make! Love the color of having peas on a plate, and do wish I liked to eat them cooked (I like them raw!) 🙂

  8. The onions and peas are now at the Farmer’s Market. I have never done this combination – but it is perfect for May and I love those sweet onions and our tiny sweet peas.

  9. I will definitely be making this Frank! Love peas & onions too! Next Saturday will be my first trip to our farmers market this season…been “out of commission” with my bad knee! Kitchen time has been really limited. My “sous” can only be expected to take on so much!

  10. non ho mai pensato di abbinare il cipollotto fresco con i piselli, una bella idea Frank !

  11. Thanks, Frank! Spring onions are rampant in our farmers market right now, both in white and red! This is a beautiful side dish.

    1. Author

      Thanks, David. How I wish we had red spring onions around here. They’re so beautiful.

      1. Author

        Scratch that—I actually found red spring onions at our farmer’s market last week.. 🙂

  12. Your dish looks delicious!! I agree that the onion doesn’t always get a starring role and onions are delicious. I remember mamma would fry up onions until they just started to get a little brown not so much so they’d burn and they she would add them to her mashed potatoes. They added so much flavor. Your colors are gorgeous, Frank. Have a great weekend.

    1. Author

      So true, it’s the spring onions from the farmers market that really make this dish special!

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