Peas are springtime in a small package. “If you don’t like peas,” wrote Lemony Snicket, “it is probably because you have not had them fresh. It is the difference between reading a great book and reading the summary on the back.” Ah yes…well said.
Sourced at the height of their season, peas need very little embellishment to accent their mild, fresh flavor. They are divine when raw and even better when lightly blanched—a quick process that both augments their flavor and keeps their color bright.
Simple puff pastry toasts are about the best-ever canvas for a springtime pea masterpiece because they partner the supple spring legumes with a crisp and buttery pastry that doesn’t overwhelm their fresh flavor and tender bite. Make the puff pastry toasts in advance, if you like, then top them just before serving. For a glossy sheen on the toast rims, brush them with an egg wash of beaten egg lightened with a dash of milk. For a final flourish, add a sprinkle of fresh chive or rosemary blossoms for an extra hit of spring.
Puff Pastry Toast with Peas, Ricotta and Mint
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (about 14 oz./440 g), thawed
- 1 1/3 cups (6 1/2 oz/200 g) fresh English peas and small lima beans
- 1 cup (8 oz/250 g) fresh whole-milk ricotta, drained
- 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh mint, plus small fresh mint leaves for garnish
- 1 tsp. minced lemon zest
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil (lemon- or garlic-infused, if you like), for drizzling
Preheat an oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry into an 11-inch square. Trim the edges (a pizza wheel and a ruler work well to cut puff pastry). Cut the pastry into 4 equal squares or 6 rectangles. Using a small, sharp knife, cut a line around each piece of pastry about 1/2 inch from the edge. Do not cut all the way through; you just want to create a ridge when the pastry is baked. Using a fork, prick the pastry inside the line all over. Arrange the pastry pieces on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the pastry is crisped, puffed and golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a baking rack and let cool.
Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat. Have ready a bowl of ice water. Add the peas and lima beans to the boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain in a sieve set in the sink, transfer to the ice water, then drain again. Reserve 1/3 cup (1 1/2 oz/45 g) of the pea mixture and set aside.
In a food processor, combine the remaining peas, 1/2 cup (4 oz/125 g) of the ricotta and the chopped mint; process to a chunky purée. Transfer the purée to a small bowl. Add the lemon zest, season with salt and pepper, and stir until blended.
Spread the pea-ricotta mixture evenly over the prepared pastry toasts, dividing it evenly. Top with equal amounts of the ricotta, reserved pea mixture and mint leaves. Drizzle each toast with a little olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Serves four or six.