Spring peas are born in a stately row with their identical siblings; they grow crisp and sweet whilst nestled together in their protective pods.
Shelling English peas is a quaint, ruminative exercise. I slowly roll each smooth emerald pearl between my fingers, taking notice of their slight size and their uniform contours. One by one I toss the lime marbles into an ivory porcelain bowl; they ricochet off the sides, hug the curves and settle confidently at the bottom. I collect about a cup of peas, each one like a thought plucked from my mind, which is now meditatively clear.
I want to give the peas the platform they deserve, serving them simply paired with peppery-cool mint, a classic flavor combination. I make a chunky spread with the herbs and fresh, local goat cheese. Scoops of lemony, creamy smashed peas adorn whole grain garlic toasts, grilled with olive oil, salt and pepper until lightly crackly and subtly nutty.
Chilled, crisp, slightly bitter radishes top the stacks, their magenta and amethyst hues brilliantly complimenting the vibrant pea puree. Fresh torn mint and lemon zest add a tertiary level of freshness and a further pop of color.
Spring has already become summer. And spring’s late produce is dwindling, making way for summer’s verdurous lushness. Enjoy the fleeting flora before it wanes.
English Pea Crostini with Late Spring Radishes and Mint
Smashed Peas Spread:
1 cup cleaned fresh English peas (frozen are fine, too)
1/4 cup fresh goat cheese
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon chopped mint
1 teaspoon Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 1-inch thick slices baguette, cut on the bias
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 garlic clove
3-4 radishes, thinly sliced
10 mint leaves, roughly torn
1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil over medium-high heat. Add peas and blanch for two minutes. Rinse under cold water.
2. Combine peas, goat cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until chunky. Transfer to a bowl and season with mint, salt and pepper.
3. Heat a grill pan or a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Brush each side of the bread slices with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Using tongs transfer the toasts to a clean surface and cool to room temperature. Rub one side of each toast with the garlic clove.
4. Spread about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the pea spread on each slice. Garnish with radishes, torn mint and lemon zest.
Yield: Serves 2-4.