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broiling Italian
Spring Pea, Ricotta, And Basil Crostini

Photo by: Joseph De Leo
Comments: 0


The bright green color of this spring-themed spread provides the visual cue for its fresh, clean taste. The lively flavors of fresh peas and basil are bridged by the sweet, creamy ricotta. When smoothed all together onto a slice of hearty bread, this spread enters the realm of ethereal. Although this recipe makes about sixteen crostini, the mixture can easily be doubled or even quadrupled if you’re planning to have a big party. Even simpler, the spread can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Bring it to room temperature before spreading on the bread and serving.

Yield: Makes 16 crostini; serves 4


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups shelling peas, preferably English (about 1¼ pounds, or use large-size frozen peas)
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh basil (about 30 leaves)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus extra for brushing
  • 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 sourdough baguette


Preheat the broiler.

In a small pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the peas and cook for 4 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Pat dry.

In a food processor, combine the peas, the ¼ cup basil, oil, cheese, and salt and pepper. Process until creamy. Taste and add more salt or pepper as needed.

Cut the baguette into sixteen ¼-inch-wide slices. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and spray or brush them on both sides with olive oil. Broil until the bread is a light golden-brown color, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn slices and repeat. (Watch carefully, as bread can burn easily.) Remove from broiler and let cool.

To assemble, spread about 1 tablespoon of the pea mixture on each slice of bread. Sprinkle with remaining chopped basil. Serve immediately.



Since there’s nothing acidic in this dish, and spring peas at the height of the season are creamy and sweet, you might try a Viognier or a buttery (but not too oaky) Chardonnay. If the peas are not super-sweet, choose a white wine that has some fruit with a touch of acidity, such as a Chenin Blanc or a Sauvignon Blanc, which will marry with the herbaceousness in the spread.

© 2003 Laura Werlin

Nutritional Information

Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

Nutritional information is based on 1/3 teaspoon added olive oil per serving.

872kcal (44%)
151mg (15%)
23mg (38%)
40mcg RAE (1%)
4mg (1%)
2329mg (97%)
3g (16%)
14g (22%)
10mg (57%)

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