The Secret Ingredient (Turmeric): Maman's Yellow Peas and Onions Recipe

The Secret Ingredient

Every month we highlight a different ingredient and share weekly recipes that showcase its uses.

The Secret Ingredient (Turmeric): Maman's Yellow Peas and Onions Recipe

[Photographs: Kerry Saretsky]

My mother has been making these peas my entire life. They are one of the dishes I call home ahead about. "Mom, I'm coming home next week. Will you make your peas and onions?" I'm not sure why she makes them. They're not particularly French. Or complicated. But they are special—soft, sweet, savory.

Turmeric doesn't often stand alone. It's the cheap color substitute for saffron, or one in many ingredients in a curry. It's rarely special and remarkable. But in these peas, it's the main flavor, the headliner. That smell like toasting earth, intense as its color. Toasted in olive oil, mixed together with peas and sweet, soft onions. That's the dish. Serve with baguette, and you'll be a turmeric convert.

  • Yield:serves 4
  • Active time: 5 minutes
  • Total time:55 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 pounds frozen peas
  • Salt


  1. 1.

    Heat the oil in a wide, high-sided sauté pan over high heat. Add the onions, and sauté until soft, stirring often for up to 10 minutes. Add the turmeric, and stir into the onions. Add the peas, and season with salt. Cover with a lid and cook, stirring occasionally, on medium-high to high heat, for 40 minutes. Serve with warm, crusty baguette.