With spring bursting across the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s hard to not be inspired in the kitchen by the bright green grass and early buds suddenly covering the landscape outside. This open-faced sandwich can easily be prepared year-round, though the combination of flavors seems to suggest spring. No matter where you’re located, the ingredients are relatively easy to find, and as with any dish, using the finest will add zing to the plate and your palate. This creamy ricotta and garden pea combination works wonders with pasta, or is perfect spread across crostini. Bright, fresh it’s like biting into the season.
Spring Pea and Ricotta Crostini
Adapted from Sonali, the Foodie Physician | Food52
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 cups fresh or frozen spring peas
1/2 cup low sodium vegetable stock
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 1/4 cups fresh ricotta cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf of rustic bread or baguette
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese shavings for garnish*
In a saucepan on the stovetop, sauté the shallots and garlic in two tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Cook until translucent, then add the peas and broth. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover the pan; cook until the peas are tender. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and add the lemon zest, tarragon and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The original recipe* calls for 1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese added to the mix; I omitted this and changed the quantity on the ricotta to accommodate. Either way, it’s a matter of preference. Purée until smooth. Add the ricotta and pulse until combined. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste.
On the ricotta, I recommend Grande Ricotta Sopraffina if you’re able to locate it at your market. It’s beyond delicious and worthy of being eaten just with a spoon. A friend suggests Bellwether Farms ricotta (I trust their opinion, though I haven’t had this yet myself). In Israel, Romania, Bulgaria and other parts Urdă is almost identical to ricotta and can be found at many markets.
For serving, select a rustic hearty bread. I choose to use a loaf I picked up from the Manresa Bread Project available at a local farmers’ market. Slice your bread or baguette, place on a baking sheet and brush both sides with the remaining olive oil. Place the sheet in a hot oven and bake until lightly toasted on both sides. Spread some of the pea and ricotta mixture across each slice. Top each with a bit of Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings and tarragon, along with crushed pepper. A simple, creamy and delightful way to enjoy the season. Bon appétit!