How to make a pea purée

“Casanova’s formidable record is unexceptional by comparison with that of Ninon de Lenclos, the 18th century beauty who is reputed to have had more than five thousand partners in an outstandingly active forty years…..She attributed her successful amatory career partly to the assistance provided by puréed peas, to which she would sometimes add a little sherry.”

Norman Lewis, Aphrodisiacs I Have Known

Don’t used fresh peas for this pea purée – it’s a complete waste! There’s only one way to eat truly fresh (straight from the kitchen garden) peas, and that is lightly boiled, with a touch of salt, mint, and butter, in all their splendid glory.

Frozen peas, however, are not at all bad if you can’t get spanking fresh ones, and they make a very good purée which goes well with plain, grilled white fish; or with Captain Haddock’s Beautiful Belgian Fishcakes; or with Golden, Breaded and Smoked Haddock.

You can experiment with different herbs. Instead of the mint, try basil, tarragon or coriander. And, as Ninon de Lenclos does, you can add a bit of hooch – dry sherry, vermouth or white wine.

For a different version of pea purée using cream, go to Harrison Barraclough’s Ham Hock Terrine with Pea Purée and Chocolate Mint.

Recipe for pea purée

Serves about 4


  • 300g/2 cups frozen peas
  • 20 or so mint leaves
  • 60 ml/¼cup thick yoghurt
  • Smoked salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Spanish sweet smoked paprika
  • … and you can, like Ninon de Lenclos, add a slosh of dry sherry or dry vermouth…


  1. Put the peas into a saucepan with a little olive oil to stop them sticking, and heat to defrost.
  2. Add the mint leaves and half the yoghurt (and hooch if you are using) and blitz with a stick blender.
  3. Season
  4. Serve, with the remainder of the yoghurt spooned over and a dusting of paprika.
Ninon de Lenclos: “A woman should not take a lover without the consent of her heart, nor a husband without the consent of her reason.”
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