This simple, classic side dish can be eaten all year round, thanks to the convenience of frozen peas. (They don’t even have to be thawed before cooking.) Serve it with Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese.

Game plan: If your peas are frozen together in a block, rinse them under cold water until they separate, then drain. Keep in mind that they might require slightly less cooking time after that.

This recipe was featured as part of our story on The Last Kodachrome Christmas.

  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: About 35 mins
  • Active: 35 mins

Ingredients (9)

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1/2 cup small-dice yellow onion (about 1/4 medium) or shallots (3 to 4 medium)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 1 cup small-dice, fully cooked smoked ham (about 5 ounces)
  • 2 (1-pound) packages frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon packed, finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed


  1. Heat a large frying pan with a tightfitting lid over medium heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and swirl to melt and coat the pan. Add the onions or shallots, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the ham and cook, stirring occasionally, until some fat renders, about 3 minutes.
  2. Increase the heat to high, add the peas, water, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and stir to combine. Cook, covered, stirring every few minutes, until the peas are just cooked through, about 6 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, lemon zest, and lemon juice, and stir to combine. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper, or lemon juice as needed.