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Edna Lewis’s skillet scallions

Edna Lewis’s skillet scallions might also have emerged between the wars from the kitchen of Herbert Croft. His son, the prolific and unjustly neglected author Rupert Croft-Cooke describes the memory of something similar in The Gardens of Camelot, one of many volumes in the unconventional and brilliant memoir he called The Sensual World. Four servings of scallions.



  • 4 bunches of scallions, stemmed and trimmed to fit a large skillet in a single layer
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • a trace of good coarse salt, like Maldon




  1. Wash the scallions in cold water; they are like leeks, but not as chronic, their proclivity for harboring grit. Do not dry them.
  2. At this point there would be no point in attempting to improve on the prose of Miss Lewis other than to note that the heat beneath your skillet at the outset should probably be medium hot veering hard toward hot:

“Heat the skillet and add the butter. When the foaming stage is reached, put in the scallions. The few drops of water left on the scallions from washing are enough for steaming. Cover the skillet and cook over a moderate fire. Turn them over after about 3 minutes. Total cooking time is about 4 to 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook; the white part should be a bit crisp, the tops tender, shiny, and green.”

  1. Miss Lewis adds that “[n]o salt or pepper will be needed.” By inference, however, it appears that she was cooking with salted butter so we like to add a sprinkle of good coarse sea salt like Maldon.



-Scallions of course are best pulled straight from the ground in springtime (the British term is not ‘spring onions’ for nothing), but these days their quality usually is good enough yearround to support this simple but sublime preparation…

-…and you can serve them with just about anything.

-The quotation is from The Taste of Country Cooking.