Spring peas, with their vibrant green hue and sweet flavor, are perfect on their own and best when picked fresh off the vine. If you happen to come across fresh peas at your farmer’s market, look for peas that are plump, bright green with no visible germ. Peas have a high sugar content, which quickly turns to starch, so they are best when eaten shortly after being harvested. In this recipe, sweet peas are paired with fresh ricotta cheese and a little Parmesan. The delicate flavors are well matched for a light snack or as a starter for a spring brunch.
Farm to Fork by Emeril Lagasse; photography by Steven Freeman. Copyright 2010; HarperCollins Publishers
|1 1/2 cups spring peas||14 ounces fresh ricotta cheese, store-bought or homemade|
|1 baguette or other crusty bread||3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling|
|1/4 cup olive oil||1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint leaves|
|Salt and freshly ground black pepper||1 tablespoon minced shallot|
|2 teaspoons minced garlic||2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese|
Fill a medium bowl with ice and cold water, and set it aside.
Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the peas and cook until the water returns to a boil. Drain, and immediately submerge the peas in the ice water. When they have cooled, drain them again and set them aside.
Preheat an outdoor grill or a grill pan to medium-high.
Slice the baguette into 3-inch-long oval slices, 1/4 inch thick. Brush one side of each slice with the olive oil, and season them with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Grill on both sides until toasted. Set aside.
On a cutting board, sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt over 1 teaspoon of the minced garlic. Chop the garlic and mash it with the flat side of your knife until the mixture forms a paste. In a small bowl, combine the garlic paste, ricotta, 1 tablespoon of the extra-virgin olive oil, the 1 tablespoon mint, the shallot, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix well, and set aside.
In another small bowl, mash the spring peas with the back of a fork until there are no whole peas; you should have a mixture of pea halves and paste. Add 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, the 1 teaspoon mint, and the Parmesan and basil. Stir gently to combine.
Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the ricotta mixture onto each crostini, and spoon about 2 teaspoons of the pea mixture on top of the ricotta mixture. Repeat with the remaining crostini. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the top as desired, and serve.
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