Tender spring peas and asparagus combine in a garden herb cream sauce in this new-fashioned take on delightfully old-fashioned Creamed Peas. Served over toast, this is one simple, economical dish wows!
My grandma was a gardener on an heroic scale. But she didn’t just know how to grow things well, she knew how to cook them beautifully, too.
Creamed Peas and creamed asparagus were pretty regular features at her table when her garden was in full production mode. Grandma served creamed peas over toast with chopped hard boiled eggs as a standalone meal.
Not only did it use up her bountiful produce while it was at its best, but it also was a lightning fast recipe to get on the table. She turned to creamed peas to get a meal on the table fast.
Of course, you can treat creamed peas as a side dish for any number of delicious entrées, too, from grilled chicken to pork roast to ham or beef. I’m inclined, though, to enjoy it by itself over toast in all its garden-fresh, herb-laden, green goddess-y glory.
“So, wait one second. Is it creamed peas or is it creamed asparagus?” you may be asking yourself. I answer “Both!”
I love having both the stalwarts of the spring garden present in abundance. If you’re anti-asparagus, you can certainly substitute the asparagus called for in the recipe with an equal amount of peas. I think the asparagus and peas play beautifully together in our creamed peas recipe, though.
Creamed Peas Recipe
It’s true that old school creamed peas recipes do not generally have fresh herbs in them. It’s also true that the presence of fresh herbs and green onions a.k.a scallions improves this dish immeasurably.
Nothing screams “SUPER FRESH!” like a hearty handful of fragrant aromatics. For our dish, you can use whichever herbs ding your chimes, but I like to add a mixture of parsley, fresh dill, fresh basil, green onions, and a little mint.
I do specify “a little mint” because mint can take over this dish pretty easily. Hold yourself to a leaf or two among your herb blend.
The combination of those herbs and cream sauce really sings and perks up an otherwise common dish. Don’t get me wrong, that common dish was delicious, but this? This is magical.
When it comes to milk for our creamed peas, I prefer whole milk. I like the richness and body the whole milk gives the dish.
I’ve also made it with 2% and it was quite good. I have not, however, tried making this with any non-dairy milk, so I’m unable to advise you as to whether or not they would work in this recipe.
Likewise, I’m a total sucker for using freshly shelled peas in our creamed peas recipe, but that is not strictly necessary. You can make this any old time of year using frozen peas.
If you’re using frozen peas and frozen asparagus pieces, you’ll simply cook them according to package instructions. Frozen peas are one of the items I keep stocked in my freezer at all times both because of their convenience and their quality.
I can’t recommend using canned peas and canned asparagus in our creamed peas except for in cases of dire creamed pea need. I mean, it could happen. I’ve heard of weirder things.
The problem with canned peas and canned asparagus is that the texture suffers greatly in the canning process. On the other hand, the texture of frozen peas and -yes- frozen asparagus is quite good.
You can toss the frozen vegetables into the cream sauce and simply heat them through if you choose to go this route.
How to Blanch Vegetables
If you use fresh peas and fresh asparagus in our creamed peas recipe, you’ll simply need to blanch them until before using them in the recipe.
This is not nearly as intimidating a process as it sounds. All you need to do is have a pot of boiling, salted water, a colander or strainer, and a bowl of ice water on hand.
Working with the chopped asparagus or the peas one type of vegetable at a time, lower it into the boiling water just until bright green in colour and starting to become tender. Peas require only 1 1/2 minutes while asparagus pieces will take 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalks.
As soon as they’re bright green, strain them and plunge them into the ice water to stop the cooking. This will help control the level of tenderness you achieve at the end.
The vegetables will only be heating up in the cream sauce, so if you like your vegetables a little more tender, you can extend the cooking time to about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes for peas and 2 to 5 minutes for asparagus. Again, this depends on how thick your asparagus stalks are.
You can test doneness in asparagus by inserting a sharp knife into a piece. If it penetrates the stalk easily, it’s tender!
Be sure not to overcook your peas and asparagus for this dish. The peas should be al dente and the asparagus should just be tender.
Place a saucepan or stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter in the pan then whisk in the flour, salt, pepper, and onion powder until smooth. Continue cooking the butter and flour mixture, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, then slowly whisk in the milk.
Cook and stir or whisk constantly until the mixture comes to a boil, then allow it to boil for 1 to 2 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in the peas, asparagus, green onions, and herbs and lower the heat as low as it can go. Stir and cook just until the peas and asparagus are heated through.
Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed and serve immediately.
Serve as a stand alone side dish or over toast with or without a chopped hard boiled egg as a meal.
Creamed Peas with Asparagus
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups cooked peas see notes
- 2 cups cooked asparagus pieces see notes
- 4 green onions roots trimmed then thinly sliced
- ¼ cup fresh herbs any combination of fresh parsley, dill, basil, and a leaf or two of mint
- Toast for serving
- Place a saucepan or stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter in the pan then whisk in the flour, salt, pepper, and onion powder until smooth. Continue cooking the butter and flour mixture, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, then slowly whisk in the milk.
- Cook and stir or whisk constantly until the mixture comes to a boil, then allow it to boil for 1 to 2 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in the peas, asparagus, green onions, and herbs and lower the heat as low as it can go. Stir and cook just until the peas and asparagus are heated through.
- Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed, and serve immediately.
- This can be served as a stand alone side dish or served over toast with or without a chopped hard boiled egg as a meal.