The Frozen Vegetable Dish Beloved by Jacques Pépin

April  3, 2018

When a French master chef talks, you listen. Well, I'd listen to anything Jacques Pépin has to say, to be honest, but when his tip involves my favorite kitchen lifesaver—frozen vegetables!—I'd give him my undivided attention.

I'm already a huge advocate for keeping a smartly stocked freezer, especially with the demands of busy work weeks and family life. At any given moment, I'll have at least one or two bags of trusty frozen peas to liven up all manner of weeknight meals. Thrown into pasta, risotto, or rice? Absolutely. But featured in their own spotlight dish? I hadn't thought of it.

Hello, SPRING! Photo by Julia Gartland

“I love frozen baby peas, which are the smallest, sweetest peas," Pepin explains in his newest cookbook, Jacques Pépin Poulets & Légumes: My Favorite Chicken & Vegetable Recipes, out today. (Did you know this legendary chef is an artist, too? All of the illustrations you see are his own!) "Frozen artichokes are another favorite. I always keep both on hand, so I can put this dish together whenever I have to feed unexpected guests.”

Keep frozen artichoke hearts around to eliminate the need to trim fresh ones. Photo by Jacques Pépin

We have a feeling his unexpected guests get fed a lot more impressively than ours, but no matter: The point is, his recipe for the humbly named Artichoke Hearts and Peas is, unsurprisingly, très délicieux. It even managed to make a pea lover out of a former pea hater:

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"I have never been a fan of peas—you could call it a phobia," admits Food52's Associate Editor Nikkitha Bakshani. "When I was young, my mom tasked me with peeling them from the pods, and I saw way too many caterpillars crawl out of there. And the taste? Meh! These frozen peas were excellent, though. The sauce was so flavorful; it did sort of remind me of the taste of buttery, garlicky French escargot, minus the snails."

Springy peas can be enjoyed year-round. Photo by Jacques Pépin

No butter or snails to speak of here, but this dish is plenty savory, with a garlic- and herb-filled sauce you'll love sopping up with crusty hunks of bread. Enjoy it alongside spring roasts or simply on its own. Just don't overcook the peas, so you can preserve their irresistible pop.

What are your favorite frozen veggies? Share them with us below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jaye Bee
    Jaye Bee
  • 70&holding
  • Di conch
    Di conch
  • Joe Cabral
    Joe Cabral
  • Kristen Miglore
    Kristen Miglore
Hana is a food writer/editor based in New York.


Jaye B. April 11, 2018
Anything Jacques Pepin recommends I have to try. Swoon!
70&holding April 8, 2018
Never met a vegetable I did not like, 75% of my grocery shopping! Upon entering a grocery store I know has a scratch & dent produce bin, I head straight for it. If it is not seeping, or, over 30% bruised, they come home with me! Apples .99 cents to $1.89, per pound, not for my apple sauce!! .50 cents a pound or less, If they have thrown a pear in the bag, all the better! Peppers, any kind, chop and freeze! Farmers Markets, I arrive as most others are leaving, $1.00 bags!
As I am, usually cooking for one, I usually buy fresh. That said, I will buy frozen, out of season items I am craving! I like to make, big batches of, soups, sauces, etc...If you do too, just make sure to rotate!!
Oh, I also barter with neighbors who have, fruit and avocado trees. I will offer, soup/sauce or a piece of handmade jewelery!raf
Di C. April 8, 2018
Frozen corn, diced mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, scallions, basil, Meyer lemon oil and champagne vinegar.
CFrance April 9, 2018
Stealing that! Yum.
Joe C. April 8, 2018
Let’s remember that this Jacques Pépin, the Best Chef on the Planet, not one that is called that on some of those waste your time food channels that they have on today. You can’t possibly learn anything from these people. You need to just once watch a cooking show with Jacques himself, to not only see his knife skills but how quickly he can create meals in minutes. Him and Julia were without a doubt the Best, and he will continue to be an inspiration to me and many other cooks on the planet. My suggestion is to purchase anyone of his any books and you will see just what I mean, and don’t waste your time watching chefs that could learn from him ! I currently own 5 of his cookbooks and use them frequently to make some of the best recipes I have ever put on my table !
Kristen M. April 3, 2018
I've been looking at some Jacques Pépin recipes from his book More Fast Food, My Way, and I was surprised to see a dessert of dolled-up canned pears! They're warmed through in their own syrup, which gets reduced down with apricot jam and butter, then served with something creamy and tangy on top. I haven't tried it, but I'm intrigued—I bet those additions help balance out the sweet, one note-ness of the syrup.
Hana A. April 3, 2018
Kristen! I love seeing your name pop up here! Okay, I secretly love canned pears (and their syrup is amazing in cocktails!)?? I think I smell a Genius Dessert addendum with this dolled-up dish.... ;)
amysarah April 3, 2018
Speaking of TJ's frozen artichoke hearts and Jacques Pepin, this recipe is quite good and very easy (not actually one of his recipes, but pretty Pepin-ish, I think): I've made it with shrimp instead of chicken as well, also good.
Cecilia April 3, 2018
I love to use the frozen tri-color bell pepper strips (I get mine at trader joe's) for anything in which they'll be cooked for a long period of time (stews, chili, tacos, braises, etc). Bell peppers can be so pricey, and the frozen version (much cheaper) are perfect for using in long-cooked applications where structural integrity and crispness don't figure. The flavor of the frozen version is wonderful, and I'll save my money for fresh when I want them for salads and grilling! Frozen peas and artichokes have long been favorites, especially since I don't like the brininess of jarred artichoke hearts. The frozen ones actually taste like artichokes!
Hana A. April 3, 2018
Oooh, I love this tip Cecilia, thank you! We love bell peppers any which way, but I agree about their high cost fresh. I'd never even thought of enjoying them frozen, will report back!
FrugalCat April 3, 2018
Frozen artichoke hearts are also much cheaper than canned.
Hana A. April 3, 2018
Great point, FrugalCat!
amysarah April 3, 2018
A bag of frozen peas is money in the bank - so easy to throw a handful or two in pastas, soups, curries, stews... (When my kids were little, they also made good impromptu ice bags for random bee stings, sprained digits, etc.)

Trader Joe's carries very well priced bags of good quality frozen artichoke hearts. Also handy, though never applied them to sports injuries.
Hana A. April 3, 2018
AmySarah, your comment about impromptu ice bags made me laugh. :) And thanks for the TJ's tip (as if I needed another reason to love TJ's!).
Smaug April 3, 2018
TJ's frozen baby peas (which, tragically, my local store has been out of for several weeks) and organic frozen sweet corn are vital adjuncts to a gracious lifestyle- they're miles ahead of the competition.
Smaug April 3, 2018
Even the hardcore organic types acknowledge that frozen peas are the way to go; like so many foods, they really don't adapt well to the methods of industrial food. Frozen corn is also usually a better choice than fresh- even in high corn season in growing areas, you usually can't get anything but the insipid white variety. Frozen vegetables are also a good choice for people who cook in small amounts, for whom something like a whole cauliflower may be a year's supply; in most markets, bulk vegetables are a dying breed, being replaced with pre packaged vegetables in amounts that are nearly guaranteed not to be what you need. Some things, like carrots, will cook much faster after being frozen and thawed.
Hana A. April 3, 2018
I didn't know that about frozen corn, Smaug! Thanks for sharing. I love a good veg bulk bin, and find there's usually a fresher lot to choose from there.