I’ve grown to believe that crostini and bruschetta, really any topping on bread, is quintessential party food. I did recently read that food on bread is a new trend. While that made me laugh, “new” doesn’t quite seem the right adjective, it hit upon the concept of bread as a vessel. Sure, you can do chips with dip and there is a time and place for meat and veggie platter. But when you want to get just a bit more fancy, the right bread is a great foil for almost any flavor. In addition to being a delicious crowd-pleaser, it has added bonus of being quick and easy.
The first time I had pea crostini, I fell in love with the vibrant hue and cool, subtle flavors. Aside from spring peas, eaten fresh, I think that this is the best preparation for peas. You can use fresh peas, but honestly, I use frozen peas for this.
These are a vibrant green, but the addition of cheese cuts the pea flavor. I solicited comments and was told by one person that they don’t particularly like peas but that this was actually pretty good. Two people who like peas gobbled these up. And one person commented that if I hadn’t told them it was pea purée, they probably wouldn’t know which green veggie was in the purée. So, it’s a crowd pleaser.
The best part, aside from the fact that it’s a pretty quick and easy recipe, is that you can make it ahead. Leave the puree in a bowl and just spoon it onto toasted baguette rounds to get the party started. Sure, this is a great spring food but it would also be a great accompaniment to a rich bisque or thinned with olive oil and used as a warm pesto-style topping for pasta.
Pinot Pea Purée
2# frozen peas
1 shallot, diced
2 tsp dried tarragon, crushed in hands
¼ c. Pinot Gris
2 T. butter
2 T. Parmesan, grated
¼ tsp salt
1 T. goat cheese
Crostini (30-40 depending on how much topping you use for each)*
1 T. Parmesan, grated
Flake salt and pepper to taste
Optional: ricotta and basil, chiffonade to garnish
*Don’t be afraid to use bread with a little something extra. I was able to find lemon-basil crostini and loved it. You could use garlic or herbed crostini as well.
Directions: In unsalted boiling water, cook shallot and peas for 9 minutes (possibly 10, you want them almost too tender, without being mushy). Drain and place in food processor with tarragon, wine, and butter. Pulse until peas become broken down but not completely smooth, this will depend on how hardcore your food processor is but mine took about 5 pulses of 5-10 seconds each. Add Parmesan, salt, and goat cheese. Blend until puree is the desired texture – I prefer a more “rustic” texture, but if you want it super creamy just blend a bit longer. Top crostini with a spoon of pea puree. Add a dollop of ricotta if desired. Sprinkle Parmesan, flake salt, pepper and basil over top before serving.