Bruschetta with “Mashed” Pea Spread and Chèvre


Having returned from my local farmer’s market with a bag each of sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes, I decided to whip up a plate of bruschetta, riffing on a recipe from bon appétit magazine. The original recipe calls for 2 cups/pounds of peas. I started shelling the fresh sugar snaps and realized very quickly that I’d never end up with 2 cups.

Instead, I used a 10 ounce bag of Sno Pac frozen peas I had stashed in the freezer. I also blanched a handful of the fresh sugar snaps thinking I needed to make up some of the 2 pounds called for in the original recipe. In the end they weren’t needed, but were totally delicious. Even so, I basically cut the original recipe in half. I’m glad I did or I’d still be eating the “mashed” pea spread.

Mashed Pea Spread
1 garlic clove
2 sprigs fresh flat or curly parsley
1 sprig fresh basil
10 ounces fresh or frozen green peas
Kosher salt
1 cup fresh spring pea pods*
2 – 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
Rind of 1/4 preserved lemon, diced, you can add more or less as you like
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
¼ teaspoon piment d’Espelette, or to taste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Marinated Tomatoes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in quarters
2 teaspoons basil, chopped (chiffonade)
2 teaspoons parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste
Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Grilled Bruschetta
1 or 2 baguettes, as you wish
½-1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Other Toppings
4 ounces fresh goat (chèvre) or sheeps milk cheese
Fresh thyme leaves, chopped for garnish
Fresh parsley leaves, chopped for garnish
Aged Italian Balsamic to taste

In a medium saucepan add garlic, parsley and basil stems, peas, pinch of salt and ½ cup of water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until peas are tender, about 5 minutes for fresh peas and 2 -3 minutes for frozen. Drain, reserving cooking liquid.

*If adding whole fresh sugar snap peas, return the reserved water to the saucepan and cook them for about 5 minutes or until tender, adding an additional 1/4 cup or so of water if needed. Drain the pea pods and reserve cooking liquid.

If using the whole pea pods, transfer them first to the bowl of a food processor. Using the metal “S” blade, pulse until finely chopped. (Note; you will need to scrape down the bowl more than once.) Add the remaining peas, garlic, parsley and basil stems and pulse until a coarse paste forms.

Transfer to a medium bowl, mixing in chives, chopped preserved lemon rind, lemon juice, piment d’Espelette and olive oil to taste. Stir in reserved cooking liquid a bit at a time until mixture is spreadable but still thick. Season the pea spread with salt and black pepper to taste. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, add the quartered cherry tomatoes, basil, parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and set aside.

Fire up the grill. While the grill is heating, slice the baguette(s) on the bias in ½ inch slices. Drizzle both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill the bread slices on both sides until lightly browned.  Remove from the grill.

When ready to serve, spread the goat cheese on the toasts. Top with the pea spread, cherry tomatoes, and fresh thyme leaves. Drizzle with balsamic and serve with a chilled rosé.

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