Sweet green pea crostini

All I can say is that I can’t believe that these green pea and pecorino crostini are as good as they are. Smashed sweet peas with some olive oil on toasted walnut bread rubbed with a garlic clove and some pecorino on top? Sure, it sounds tasty, but it doesn’t sound nearly as tasty as these actually are. The key is, I’m sure, that the fresh green peas we’ve been getting are simply beyond fabulous. Plump, truly sweet, tender, and full of green springtime.

Sweet green pea crostini

I use a walnut levain bread from Acme bakery in San Francisco to make these. Other breads would be good, I’m sure, but there is something about the earthy walnut flavor and bit of crunch they add to the proceedings that is pretty close to perfect.

2 pounds sweet green pea pods/English peas/garden peas (this will give you enough so you can snack on them as you shell them)

1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

3 Tablespoons super delicious extra virgin olive oil

6 thick slices homemade or artisan baked walnut bread or similar

1 large clove garlic

Fresh pecorino for shredding

Freshly ground black pepper

Mint, chervil, or chives, chopped, for garnish (optional)

Shell the peas.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt to the water, add the peas and cook about a minute. Drain and rinse with cold running water to cool them off quickly. Shake as much excess water off as you can.

Now you can work in a bowl by hand or with a blender or food processor. Put the peas and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in the vessel of your choice. Mash the peas with a fork or pulse to half-mash the peas.

Toast the bread. Cut the garlic clove in half and rub the toasts with the garlic. Discard the used garlic clove or use in another dish. Spread each toast with its fair share of the pea mash and drizzle them with the remaining bit of olive oil. Sprinkle toasts with grated pecorino and black pepper, as well as more salt to taste (a bit of fleur de sel is nice here) and any herbs you choose to use.

For the record, if you make too many of these delights for your guests to ingest – perhaps because you cooked a four-course dinner for eight when there were only four of you present and you made an extra-large salad in a last-minute moment of panic that by some insane logic there wasn’t enough food – any leftover crostini make a tasty breakfast.