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Delicate green peas were a favored spring vegetable, eagerly anticipated by Virginians after long winters during which fresh vegetables were at a premium. Washington noted in his diary on May 25, 1785, that the family “Had Peas for the [first] time in the season at Dinner.” Writing three years later, Virginia planter Robert Carter III of Nomini Hall likewise heralded their arrival, asserting that “Pease ought to be preferred [,] they being a more succulent Vegetable.”

Hannah Glasse’s delectable recipe makes a welcome addition to a spring menu. This recipe is a modern adaptation by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump from the book Dining with the Washingtons.


  • 6 cups small fresh or frozen green peas
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried savory
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley, stemmed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Directions

    1. Combine the peas, butter, salt, nutmeg, sugar, thyme, marjoram, savory, and parsley in a saucepan over medium heat.

    2. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and cook at a slow simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.

    3. Add the cream and heat through.

    4. Pour into a serving dish, and send to the table immediately.

    Serves 6 to 8

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