I don't just think it's Spring, I KNOW it's Spring because peas showed up at the farmer's market at Larchmont on Sunday, along with Reza from Bravo's "Shahs of Sunset", but that's another emergency breakthrough altogether.
Simple. Sweet. Beautiful. Delicious. And I'm not just talking about Reza's mustache.
It's a shame that many of us grew up at a time when the only peas we ever saw on our plates were from a can, because I wouldn't even look at a pea until I was well into adulthood. Now I can't get enough of them; the bright color, the sweetness and the heralding of good weather are only a few reasons why they make a really attractive appetizer.
pea crostini with torn mint, reggiano-parmesan, pea shoots and balsamic vinegar
inspired by Bon Appetit recipe June 2011
1 french baguette
2 cloves peeled garlic
2 cups spring peas, shelled (about 2 lbs peas in their pods)
3-4 TBSP olive oil
2 tsp sea salt (plus some for garnish, if desired)
¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
around 12 leaves (more or less, to taste) of fresh mint
shaved pieces of reggiano-parmesan
handful of pea shoots
condimento level (very viscous, high quality) balsamic vinegar; or lower quality balsamic vinegar, reduced to a thick syrup
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Slice baguette into 1" thick pieces. Brush both sides with olive oil, place on a cookie sheet and sprinkle a pinch (or two) of sea salt on top. Bake for 10-12 minutes, turning once, until golden brown.
Remove from the oven, and as soon as you can handle the toasts, rub both sides of each with a peeled garlic clove (or two). Set aside.
Fill a large bowl with an ice water bath and set aside.
Blanch the peas: over high heat, bring 6-8 cups of water in a large pot to a rolling boil. Add 1 TBSP kosher salt. When the water returns to a boil, add the shelled peas and cook for 1 minute (if you choose you can use thawed frozen peas cooked for 2 minutes). Remove from the stove and drain, then immediately shock the peas by adding them to the ice water bath. Once they've cooled, drain the peas and place in a large bowl and add olive oil, salt and pepper. Mash using the back of a fork (or a masher, if you prefer), then whip with the fork to emulsify the mixture.
Place a spoonful of the pea mixture on each toast, then top with the torn mint, a shaved piece (or two) of the reggiano-parmesan and a couple of pea shoots. Place a few drops of balsamic vinegar on top and sprinkle with a pinch or two (to taste, if desired) of sea salt.
And now back to our regularly scheduled programming...