Saturday, December 5, 2009

A celebration of peas: Smashed Pea Brushchetta

For all of you thinking pea bruschetta sounds completely crazy, take one bite and you will start thinking who knew peas were this delicious?

My favorite thing about this recipe is that it helps you discover how wonderful peas are. Let's be honest, peas don't usually get much attention. But, when I think peas, I think walking through my father's garden, snapping the pea pod right off the vine, popping open the pod, and popping those peas into my mouth. They taste so sweet and so perfect, why shouldn't we celebrate them?

(taken in my father's garden)

Thank goodness Jamie Oliver shares these sentiments and made peas the star in this bruschetta recipe. It is shockingly easy to make: 5 minutes tops. And at the end of it you have a visually stunning appetizer and a revelation about peas to boot.

This is how I made it. Since peas are no longer in season, I bought some frozen petite peas from Trader Joe's, defrosted them, and they worked perfectly.
To make the smashed-pea topping, you can either use a mortar and pestle or a food processor. And since my mortar and pestle is rather small, I opted for the processor. So, pour in your peas, some basil, some salt, and some pepper. Give that a good blend. Then add in some olive oil.
Once the peas have a 'spreadable' consistency, stir in some Parmesan cheese and squeeze in some lemon. Both of these ingredients make the peas shine.
And, your work is done! Seriously, how stunning is this green?
This is best served with some bread (homemade no-knead works fantastically), mozzarella, and some balsamic.
In fact, I wasn't going to add balsamic at first, but it started singing its siren song and how could I resist? So, after my first bite, I added a dribble of balsamic, and it was perfection.
Welcome to the celebration of peas!

Smashed Pea Bruschetta (adapted from Jamie at Home)
1 16oz bag petite frozen peas, defrosted*
a small bunch of fresh basil**
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces finely grated Pamesan cheese, plus extra for serving***
juice of 1 lemon
slices of bread****
2 large balls of fresh mozzarella cheese
Balsamic vinegar*****

Either in a pestle and mortar or a food processor, bash up most of the basil with the peas and a pinch of salt. Add in a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to make the paste really gorgeous and spreadable. Stir in the Parmesan. If the mixture is a bit stiff, add a little more oil to loosen it. Add about three-quarters of the lemon juice- this will bring the whole story together. Have a taste and see what you think. You want the richness of the Parmesan and the oil to balance nicely with the freshness of the peas and basil. Season with more salt and some pepper, if you need to.

Serve with bread, mozzarella, a drizzle of Balsamic and olive oil, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.

*Mr. Oliver calls for 1 pounds peas in their pods (about 5 ounces shelled weight) and 1 1/2 pounds fava beans in their pods (about 9 ounces shelled weight).
**Mr. Oliver calls for mint.
***Mr. Oliver calls for pecorino
****Mr. Oliver has you toast sourdough bread and rub a garlic clove on it. Which would be delicious, but I had fresh no-knead bread... how could I not use that?
*****Mr. Oliver does not call for the vinegar, but it is a marvelous addition.

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